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Integrity in Uptime Elements Reliability Framework

By Terrence O’Hanlon

I do not want you to read this article. Let me restate that…as the author of this article,
I do not want you to simply read it. I want you to actually DO something as a result.

As you read this article, please identify one area where you would like to realize a significant breakthrough in the performance of your team or your organization. I hope you will find something useful for that purpose in the information presented.

According to research conducted by and Uptime magazine, and now confirmed by numerous other sources, more than 70 percent of change efforts and new reliability strategies fail to create a sustained result.

There are a number of factors that contribute to the low success rate, including:

  1. A lack of understanding the elements of reliability as a holistic system and the ways these elements interact and interrelate.
  2. A lack of appreciation for the roles that culture and leadership play in the delivery of performance.
  3. A lack of awareness of the nature of the journey from one operating domain or maturity level to another (e.g., the transition from the reactive domain to the planned domain).

Uptime Elements were created to provide a simple way to understand a holistic, system-based approach to embedding reliability into an organization’s practices and culture.

Like safety, reliability is as much a way of thinking as it is a set of actions and it must involve all stakeholders at all levels, from top management to plant floor.

Uptime Elements detail a reliability leadership system for asset performance that includes:

  • Reliability Engineering for Maintenance,
  • Asset Condition Management,
  • Work Execution Management,
  • Leadership for Reliability, and,
  • Asset Management.

Uptime Elements as a system resulted from, and has been validated, by observations and assessments conducted at over 400 organizations and completed as part of the Uptime Awards, an annual event since 2006 that acknowledges and celebrates the “BEST” programs for maintenance reliability and asset management.

Uptime Elements Reliability Framework and Asset Management SystemUptime Elements Reliability Framework and Asset Management System Terrence O'Hanlon,

Figure 1: Uptime Elements – A reliability leadership system for asset performance management

Aligning people in aim and understanding creates a new paradigm of engagement and provides a foundation for a high-performance culture. At their highest purpose, Uptime Elements are designed to generate alignment and create enlightened awareness and understanding for:

  • Top management who drive/demand asset performance;
  • People who directly lead reliability improvements;
  • People who manage aspects of reliability improvement projects (Figure 2);
  • Individual contributors to reliability improvement.


Figure 2: The leaders required for a high-performance reliability system

Although these people typically have different job titles, roles and responsibilities, each one should be educated and encouraged as a reliability leader.

World-class organizations understand that performance is generated through leadership. They also understand that results require an informed, engaged and empowered team. Leadership is not one person’s job; it is everyone’s job.

The Uptime Elements reliability leadership system is designed to align three value drivers, each creating results that eventually intersect and replace the default future of inaction or ineffectiveness (Figure 3).


Figure 3: Intersecting value drivers

The system is also designed to develop an understanding of the current operating domain characteristics so they may reach a point of stabilization that supports transition to a more effective operating domain (Figure 4).


Figure 4: The operating domains

There is one theme that threads though all the Uptime Elements and that is integrity.

  • Integrity enables reliability;
  • Without integrity, reliability does not work.

As we move from the integrity of the inputs to criticality analysis in the reliability engineering for maintenance domain, through the integrity of the sampling of oil in the oil analysis of the asset condition management domain to the integrity of the data in the computer maintenance management system of the work execution management domain, we see that having integrity is fundamental to success. This is seen, no more so, than in the fourth Uptime Elements domain, leadership for reliability, as, simply put, without integrity there is no leadership.

South African reliability expert Grahame Fogel of Gaussian Engineering adds the following perspective:

All of asset management revolves around integrity. For an asset to perform within its design capacity over its entire life, it should:

  • Be planned, designed, built and commissioned with integrity.
  • Ensure that the structure and accuracy asset data has integrity.
  • Ensure that equipment is operated with integrity.

An object has integrity when it is whole and complete.

Think of a gear with a crack or a bicycle wheel that is missing spokes. They are not whole or complete. Over time, performance will be reduced and failure is more likely. When an object is out of integrity, it becomes less workable. Conversely, a system has integrity when it is whole and complete. As integrity declines, workability declines, and as workability declines, value (or more generally, the opportunity for performance) declines.

Whatever performance measure you choose requires integrity. Violating the Uptime Elements Law of Integrity generates undesirable consequences, just as certain as violating the law of gravity.

Operate as if the Uptime Elements Law of Integrity is true and the results that you and your organization can produce increase dramatically. The potential impact on performance is huge: 100 percent to 1000 percent! No software or hardware required.


Figure 5: Lack of integrity = lack of reliability = lack of potential performance

Even if you do not know a clear definition of integrity, you know when someone or something does not have it. If you do not know a clear definition of reliability, you know when someone or something does not have it. Like reliability, integrity must be earned and it cannot be purchased. There is no “easy button” to achieve it and no check in an amount large enough to procure it.

Integrity and reliability are closely linked, not only in definition, but also in action. Table 1 draws your attention to the close relationship between integrity and reliability.

Table 1: Relationship between integrity and reliability

Table 1: Relationship between integrity and reliability

The integrity of the system

The integrity of the structure

The integrity of the brand

The integrity of the data

The integrity of the company

The integrity of the person…

The reliability of the system

The reliability of the structure

The reliability of the brand

The reliability of the data

The reliability of the company

The reliability of the person…

How will reliability work if the bicycle wheel is missing a spoke or the gear has a crack?

How will reliability work if you, your manager and/or the corporate leaders do not have integrity?


Of course we want mechanical integrity, but that is NOT the focus of this article. Robert DiStefano, co-author of “Asset Data Integrity is Serious Business” puts it in context by quoting his grandfather instructing him as a young man: “Integrity is always doing the right thing – especially when it is hard to do; especially when no one is looking.”

In a performance context, integrity is keeping your word. You are your word. People trust you or doubt you based on your word or your lack of word. People follow you based on their experience of your integrity.


Figure 6: Integrity supports performance

Do not make commitments lightly; do not say you will do something and then not do it. Do what you say you are going to do.

On the other hand, if you NEVER break your word, you are probably playing it “safe” and not living to your fullest potential. When you live your life big and stretch your capabilities by leading reliability in your organization, there will be times when things happen and you cannot, or choose not, to keep your word. When this happens, you need to earn integrity back by HONORING your word.

How do you honor your word when you break it?

We honor our word by cleaning up the mess we made when we broke our word – at the earliest possible opportunity – NOT AT THE LAST POSSIBLE MOMENT.

Honor your word by cleaning up the mess you made and then keep your word moving forward.

Integrity builds trust and people will follow leaders they trust. Conversely, people will not follow someone they do not consider to be operating from a place of integrity. Management authority comes from title. Leadership authority comes from integrity and example.

Uptime Elements is not a system for ethics or morals, nor are we explaining integrity in that context. When something has integrity, it is whole and complete. When something is whole and complete, it is capable of greater performance than when it lacks that wholeness. Therefore, it is logical to state that when something lacks integrity, it has less potential for high performance.

You are whole and complete (with integrity) to the extent that you keep your word and to the extent that you honor your word by cleaning up any mess you made when you do not keep your word. You are capable of higher performance when you are in a state of being whole and complete. Lack of integrity is a failure mode.

We often hear management extol virtues they want to see in you, things like, “Be a good worker,” or “Do it right the FIRST time,” or “Take pride in your work.” Can you imagine management’s reaction if they saw posters on the factory floor that said, “Do what you say you are going to do,” or “More management follow through,” or “Leaders Honor Their Word?”


Figure 7: What reaction would this banner create?

As the topic of integrity is rarely discussed in relation to reliability, peer review and critiques were solicited for this article. A number of highly respected colleagues responded with positive suggestions that have been incorporated into this work.

In reviewing this article, reliability expert Heinz Bloch stated, “We are in charge of keeping our word, not someone else.”

University of Stellenbosch (South Africa) Professor P.J. Vlok added, “Integrity in reliability is somewhat like oxygen – you do not really have to think about it until you do not have it.”

Author and reliability leader Winston Ledet commented, “Thank you for the understanding of integrity. John Bennett (author of “The Dramatic Universe”) says that ‘understanding is the source of freedom and the molecule of will’.”

Friend and reliability expert Henry Ellmann added a new depth by asking us to consider that, “the relationship between integrity and safety may add an additional dimension to this discussion.”

In a lecture on the topic of integrity, Werner Erhard, founder of Erhard Seminars Training, asked: What would your life be like and what would your performance be if the following were true:

  1. You have done what you said you would do and you did it on time?
  2. You have done what you know to do, you did it the way it is meant to be done and you did it on time?
  3. You have done what others would expect you to do, even if you never said you would do it, and you did it on time, including meeting all relevant ethical, moral and legal standards, or you have informed all others that you will not meet those expectations and standards?
  4. You have informed others of your expectations for them and have made explicit requests to those others?
  5. Your being, actions and words are consistent with what you say you stand for, who you hold yourself out to be for others and who you hold yourself out to be for yourself?

What kind of a world would we have if everyone functioned with that level of integrity? Now imagine what kind of organization you would have if everyone in the organization functioned with that level of integrity. Now imagine how you would perform if you lived in that level of integrity.

The people who deliver results want to be empowered and engaged. They want to work in an environment of integrity. If you accept that things of integrity are, by their nature, whole and complete, and that whole and complete things have better performance potential, it is likely that your organization could benefit from creating a high integrity environment.


  1. Integrity begins with you – make a declaration to live a life of integrity.
  2. Give your word only when you have an intention and ability to keep it.
  3. Recognize and acknowledge all instances when you do not keep your word.
  4. Honor your word by cleaning up the mess you made by not keeping your word.
  5. Clean up the mess you made at the earliest possible opportunity and earn your integrity back.
  6. Repeat.


  1. Percentage of time life works (increases up to 100 percent).
  2. Percentage of time your performance and abilities improve (increases up to 100 percent).
  3. Number of times you did not keep your word (reduces – approaching zero*).

*If you achieve zero, it may indicate that you are playing it too safe and not living life as "big" as you could be. It is okay to take risks and reach for extremely high goals.

Please consider this question as you reach the final words of this article: What are you committed to producing for yourself and your organization today?


  1. Uptime Elements™ – A System for Asset Reliability and Performance Management. Copyright 2010- 2013, tutorial-uptime.
  2. Uptime Elements Passport Series: Integrity. ISBN: 978-1-939740-21-2.
  3. O’Hanlon, Terrence. Reliability Leadership: A Travel Guide.
  4. Uptime Awards:
  5. Logan, Dave. Tribal Leadership, Keynote Speech at Reliability 2.0 Las Vegas.
  6. Logan, Dave; King, John; Fischer-Wright, Halee. Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization. New York: Harper Business, 2011. ISBN: 978-0061251320
  7. Zaffron, Steve and Logan, Dave. The Three Laws of Performance: Rewriting the Future of Your Organization and Your Life. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2011. ISBN: 978-1-118-04312-7
  8. CMMS Best Practices Study.
  9. RCM Benchmarking Study.
  10. Asset Health Management Benchmarking Study.
  11. Ledet, Winston P.; Ledet, Winston J.; Abshire, Sherri. Don’t Just Fix It – Improve It! Fort Myers:, 2009. Audio ISBN: 978-1-939-74099-1. Print ISBN:9780982516317. Kindle ASIN:B00DZYP8HI.
  12. Moore, Ron. Making Common Sense Common Practice: Models for Operational Excellence, 4th Edition. Fort Myers:, 2012. ISBN 9780983874188. Kindle ASIN:B00CBZOV9S.
  13. Erhard, Werner. Founder, Erhard Seminars Training.

This paper was influenced by Kelly, Erin and Ian O’Hanlon, Ramesh Gulati, Bart Jones, Ron Moore, Terry Wireman, Cliff Williams, Bill Partipilo, Jenny Brunson, Jeff Smith, Derek Burley, Henry Ellmann, Grahame Fogel, P.J. Vlok, Werner Erhard and Dave Logan.

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