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Why 90 Percent of Reliability Programs Fail to Sustain, and How to Beat These Odds

IMC-2017 Learning Session - 50:21
by Paul Monus, BP and Felicjan Rydzak, Felix Consultancy

“Reliability” has become a holy grail across asset intensive industries. Many companies have been launching new programs, reaching out to external experts, and implementing new technical and IT solutions, but there still are not many organizations who have become high-reliable organizations (HRO).

One of the fundamental principles within an HRO is preoccupation with failure. This focus triggers thinking about FMEA, condition monitoring, PM programs, lubrication, etc. Furthermore, people usually associate reliability with the maintenance in their organizations.

We claim that technical solutions alone are not sufficient for transition towards becoming an HRO – since 90% of reliability programs fail to sustain.

This presentation reports on investigations into social aspects of change programs aimed at high reliability. We illustrate how shaping organizational network structure enables sustainable transformation.

We analyze dynamics of network structure in two organizations, using social science concepts. Both organizations used the same means for transformation – defect elimination action teams – to create new ‘working relations’ between members of the organizations. These new relations across organizational ‘silos’ increased the potential for innovative, process-equipment related improvements.

When front-line employees take action, they increase personal ‘power’ and ability for self-management. The responsibility for reliability becomes distributed across the entire organization – it is no longer owned by higher managers or engineering specialists.

We discuss novel insights into transformation based on social network aspects, which we, engineers, intuitively know about, but tend to ignore. Social network theory helps explain how to create and sustain reliability culture – and to understand the ‘hidden forces’ that are involved in organizational change.

Based on these insights we built an agent based computer simulation model to replicate the dynamics of change within social networks during transformation. This model enables designing rollouts and engagement programs at the social network level to increase the potential for effectiveness and sustainability of the effort.