"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things." - Niccolo Machiavelli
What drives us to change existing habits? Why not just join the masses and accept our fate and mediocrity?
The fact that you are reading this leads me to believe you have some concept of the effort involved in changing culture, after all, it is Uptime. In the reliability world, change is our normal state. Whether we are dealing with a bad actor or instilling a new business process, we are trying to change something. To understand what makes a change agent, I look back on my start in the reliability world.
I started my career in the railway doing track maintenance work. The equipment fascinated me, intergraded electronics automating advanced hydraulic systems. Track liners, tie inserter cranes, all types of equipment working in harmony! This metal ballet was a thing of beauty to watch. Then with a rainbow invoking spray of hydraulic oil, the show abruptly ended. I watched as the machine helper pulled out a chunk of -12 hydraulic hose and quickly spun on some, somewhat clean, fittings. I remember a passing thought that if the hose and fittings were cleaner, and if the helper had fit the hose so it would not rub, it might last longer (mean time between failures). I also entered a suggestion that the hoses and fittings should be contained in a sealed box with one end done on each size roll (mean time to repair). At this point, I became obsessed with finding better ways to maintain equipment; I did not realize there was a reliability industry, but hey, who did in 1980.
Throughout my career, I felt a compulsive need to improve on things as most reliability practitioners do; we want things to be optimized. Many of us feel this provides benefits beyond the simple monetary gains. We feel this approach will produce more efficient companies, which will affect the health, safety, environmental impact, energy utilization, sustainability and profitability of industry. I personally feel this is for the greater good of people and the environment. It is my faith in this concept that enables me to chip away at naysayers, plant seeds of best practices and challenge the realities of status quo.
The underlying vision of the Association for Maintenance Professionals (AMP) is to provide value to practitioners, to enable global communication for sharing learnings and to harvest knowledge from the amazing group of reliability pioneers that created this world. Those of you who are struggling with a business case, a complex process problem, a nagging bad actor, or just learning your way, we are here to help! The reliability world is an amazing place full of like-minded people from all industries, countries and backgrounds. I am proud to be a student of the reliability world and a servant to the next generation of practitioners!
Why drive change? Because it’s for the greater Good!
Jeff Smith, CMRP, is a career reliability professional and change agent with the insight, vision and enthusiasm necessary to inspire teams and garner impressive results. His work has spanned a cross section of industries, including mining, pulp and paper, packaging, petrochemical, marine, brewing, transportation and synfuels.
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