Last fall I was engaging in some mindless entertainment watching "Dances with the Stars" on the television. An interesting event took place, a favorite dancer of the judges was voted off. The dancer that stayed (Bill Engvall) was less skilled, but hugely entertaining, and clearly a fan favorite. The judges and those who appreciate skilled dancing were outraged - the rest of us were entertained.

Now why mention this in a "Maintenance/ Reliability" tip? Because there is an interesting lesson here. On the dance show, the contestants are given two scores - one by the judges for their actual dance. The other score comes from the fans, who are told by the announcer "vote for your favorite, if you want them to stay in the competition". So do the dancers with a larger fan base have an edge over those who are the better skilled dancers, but have fewer fans? Apparently so. Poor dancing can be rewarded if you are humorous and engaging while doing it (and it is what the audience wants to see).

In maintenance and reliability, how often do we ask for our organization to behave one way, yet reward a different (sometimes contradictory) behavior? For example, as managers (judges) do we encourage skillful repairs and appreciate the fact that a technician is so skillful that there is never any rework to any assignment that we give them? Yet when there is a breakdown, it is duct tape and bailing wire, just to make the equipment run a little longer. We don't have time to let the skillful technician make a permanent repair. At times, it is almost entertaining to watch technicians scramble as if imitating the "Keystone Cops" from the silent movie era.

When we have a repetitive failure, managers express the same outrage as the judges on the dancing show did. Yet the managers had previously rewarded the "firefighting" mentality when the original failure occurred. And we wonder why our organizations are confused as to what type of behavior we want...

To borrow a line from Bill Engvall - "Here's Your Sign"...

Tip Provided By Terry Wireman, Senior Vice President, Strategy Vesta Global and Author of "The Maintenance Strategy Series"

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