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Do you work with people who do what they say? How hard is it to do business with them? Conversely, do you work with people who do not do what they say? How hard is it to work with them?

Stephen M.R. Covey--son of the famous time management guru who wrote “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”--wrote a book called “The Speed of Trust.” In it, Covey argues that being able to trust a vendor, contractor or even employee accelerates the processes of business. I’m sure you have vendors that you can give a vague problem on a unit to solve and then don’t have to give it another thought until it is returned. The bill gets a cursory look, but you trust them so you can process the paperwork without much time or effort.

Now which would you prefer? A vendor who screws up the shipment and tells you after you call for the part that yes, he shipped the part and now mysteriously can’t find evidence? Eventually he tells you that the darn UPS driver didn’t get it even though the box was “right there.”

The second vendor calls you days before delivery, says they screwed up and the part will not be available. He says he doesn’t know right now when it will be in, but when it does come in, he will overnight it to you at his expense. He says he is sorry and of course you can cancel with no penalty. Wow would that be different!

Doing what you say provides a huge savings in time, effort and mental worry. This is a powerful idea and it was something we all have known, but (in my case) never put into words. Now it has returned--it never actually left--in a bigger and more encompassing context.

I’m currently working at, a publisher and thought leader in reliability of physical assets. They have authored the Uptime Elements, which is a framework to talk about and pursue reliability. Once someone learns the Uptime Elements, they can sit for the Certified Reliability Leader exam and get certified (

The goal of the framework is to create reliability leaders that can intelligently discuss the essential importance of reliability to anyone in the organization. In fact, several large organizations are bringing the word not only to maintenance but operations, purchasing and warehousing as well as others.

One of the Uptime Elements is Integrity, defined as doing what you say you are going to do to the best of your ability. Further, if you fail to do what you said--and this is critical--you “clean up the mess” as soon as possible. Radical concept--when you do not do what you say, you apologize!

Imagine the speed of business if integrity was the rule rather than the exception. Driver: Yes, I guess my unit is breaking down (or getting bad MPG) because I have been in a hurry and running it hard. Sorry.

Now we are NOT discussing morals or right and wrong, just the ability to get business done.

This use of integrity allows you to “assume” the person on the phone, Internet or across your desk will do what they promise. Working with people who do what they promise to the best of their ability are gems (keep them close and don’t let anything happen to them).

Now, here comes the $64,000 question. How much integrity does maintenance have? Can your customers rest assured that you will do what you promised to the best of your ability? And if you can’t, that you will clean it up? That you have their interests at heart and give them notice well in advance when things are not going well? I think this is an important thing to think about. Good luck.

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Joel Levitt

Joel Levitt, CRL, CPMM, CRL, CPMM, is the President of Laser Focused Training. Mr. Levitt has 30 years of experience in many facets of maintenance, including process control design, source equipment inspector, electrician, field service technician, maritime operations and property management. He is a leading trainer of maintenance professionals and has trained more than 17,000 maintenance leaders from 3,000 organizations in 25 countries in over 500 sessions. Since 1980 he has been the President of Springfield Resources, a management consulting firm that services all sized clients on a wide range of maintenance issues. Prior to that Mr. Levitt worked for a CMMS vendor and in manufacturing management. 

He is also a frequent speaker at maintenance and engineering conferences and has written 6 popular maintenance management texts and chapters of 2 additional reference books. He has also published dozens of articles on the topic. Mr. Levitt has served on the safety board of ANSI, Small Business United, National Family Business Council and on the executive committee of the Miquon School. He can be reached at or visit

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