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How do you know how to get there if you don’t know where you’re going?

I like the analogy of business as a tornado. A tornado is an incredible force of energy. If you ever saw the wake of destruction a tornado leaves behind, you'll note that it had a particular direction. Although it looks like chaotic energy, the tornado has a particular path and nothing except Mother Nature herself can hold it back. A business is an incredible force of energy as well. This energy is made up of customers, suppliers, macroeconomics, equipments assets, processes, procedures, human resources, etc. All these forces within a business can make for chaotic energy. The management team within any business is responsible, with their employees, to harness this energy and make it productive. In order to do so, you need to define the path. In other words..... planning.

Plant maintenance is no different. Unfortunately, we allow ourselves to think of it differently too often. We have become too reactionary and even plan how to react. Now you cannot plan for all failures in advance, but you can plan to avoid most in advance. Does your organization have a maintenance plan? More specifically, a maintenance and reliability related vision and mission? Vision defines where you are going into the future, your direction. Mission defines why you exist, your purpose. Without these two key management elements, the chaos that is business takes over and the direction becomes haphazard.

In speaking with many plant maintenance people over the past several years, I have often heard how they have a difficult time breaking the maintenance cycle. Budgets are tight and they can't seem to get resources allocated to reliability related activities. Therefore, they spend most of their time, money, and energy on "fixing" things. The place to start with breaking this cycle is in a defined maintenance/reliability centered vision and mission statement. Define your vision and mission working to get your team's buy-in. Even draw up a scenario for the future that demonstrates the fulfillment of the vision and mission years down the road to help your people understand. The only way to break today's cycle is to put a plan together as to where you'd like to be instead. Otherwise, the chaotic energy of business will roll you up as if a tornado and your only thought is survival - putting out fires.

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