Shon Isenhour

Recent Posts

Four -isms That Might Be Killing Your Reliability

Lets talk today about the four -isms that may be running around in your plant and limiting your ability to improve up-time, quality and reliability.  The first step is to recognize that they exist and then we can determine a plan to mitigate or eliminate it. Below I have given you the four as well as a sound bite and possible mitigation strategies. It is best if you can prevent them from rearing their ugly heads through good risk and communication planning but today we will look at a reactive response.

Negativism: The disposition to project the worst case scenario.
Sounds like: "This CMMS is horrible it takes 16 screen to do what I could do in one in the old system."
Mitigation: Focus on the positive and don't let meeting become bashing sessions. Celebrate the little successes or steps from your project plans.

Criticism: The disposition to be preoccupied with incomplete or imperfect.
Sounds like: "This new process is not good enough to roll out. Let's continue to work on it."
Mitigation: Create a pilot area where it is OK to fail and trial the processes there with a mind for continuous improvement. These safe zones clear the way and the fear of failure and allow for progress not paralysis.

Skepticism: The disposition to always question but never commit.
Sounds like: "I'm not sure we have enough data to show that this will work. Let's collect more.or That will never work here. We are too different. "
Mitigation: Show case studies from similar sites that have succeeded. We call them "real world examples" in our training. Visit sites or invite sites to visit you once they have had success. Let you negative folks mix with their positive ones.

Cynicism: The disposition to view every human enterprise as selfishly motivated.
Sounds like: "Maintenance just wants us to do autonomous maintenance so we can do their work for them"
Mitigation: Communicate fully the intent of the initiative and how it affects each individual. Cynicism loves to attack the ill informed.

What are you doing in your site to address the -isms?

Stop Corrective Maintenance Repairs on Preventive Maintenance Work Orders.

Today's guest post by Blended Learning student Rick Clonan of Nissan is a sample of a communication to his organization to explain a problem that they had been facing. Interestingly enough it is a problem that many of us face in our sites. Thanks to Rick's willingness to share, you might be able to craft a similar example and share with your organization. 

There has been a lot of discussion as to why we are asking technicians to write corrective work orders for problems found on a PM instead of fixing the issue on the spot.  If we consider the example of the four machines below, it becomes clear why this is the case. 

        A technician is assigned a 2 hour PM for each of the machines below.  As he checks #1, there are no issues found and the PM is completed with no corrective work order generated.   As the inspection of #2 begins, he notices an issue.  This issue is not very critical and could wait until next  weekend.  He decides to fix it anyway.  The repair takes another 2 hours.  He moves on to machine #3.  There are no issues that demand immediate attention.  Since the PM of #2 and the corrective work order to fix the issue have taken a total of 4 hours, it is now time to go home, and the PM for  machine #4 does not get done. 

         The problem is, machine #4 has a failure in it that will shut the machine down in a day if not detected.  The next shift coming in has it’s own list of things to do and will not get to the PM on machine #4 that the previous shift did not complete.

4 Simple Steps to Start Creating a Learning Culture in Your Organization

Is training a drudgery endured once or twice a year or is it a part of daily life enjoyed by all? Many companies and sites are missing the boat by not having a culture of continuous learning. One where new knowledge is constantly entering the "collective" and finding its way into use. If you can create this culture then you will keep your organization competitive while improving morale according to multiple recently studies.
Here are five easy ways to start your site on a pathway to lifelong education.
1. Trade publications offer a lot of great examples of other organizations success and best practices for no cost other than the time to read. If you are in the manufacturing and asset management world your site should be getting magazines like Plant Engineering, Plant Services, Solutions, Uptime, and others. It is not enough to just sign up for a free subscription. Set up magazine swaps and route around articles that you think are particularly relevant to the site. Have different people present a quick overview of one article per week in your morning meeting. Make the transfer of knowledge an important part of your traditional report out meetings.
2. Websites and blogs like can also supplement your magazine articles. If your organization is more comfortable with online resources than print you can increase your learning with tools like Twitter and LinkedIn as they serve up a lot of great content as well. Be aware however that forwarding a link in an email can sometimes lower the chances it will be consumed by your target audience. After all they did not just receive that email, it came with 38 others. Because of that you may want to share verbally as well as possibly print it in order to get the attention of your group. This really depends on the culture your site has developed.
3. Videos and YouTube are exploding with information, industry specific newscast, and how to videos. If you have not done so just take a look at this search on YouTube for Asset Management. These videos can be used to kick off meetings, they can be looped in break rooms or just sent as a link. There are also videos on demand like the ones we host here that can provide general awareness or a refresher of content right when you need it and when it matters to you most. 
4. Books are the last category and while very old school the classic book club approach can really help the organization grow by holding students accountable to read and then discuss with the group. The discussion really improves retention of the material and understanding. If you can tie the content to something that is happening in the facility, increasing the relevance, then it will be a slam dunk.
I have used all of these in organizations at one time or another and it is pretty exciting to see the organization brighten as it embraces lifelong learning.


Six Steps for Learning New Passions

I don't know about you but I find that I really enjoy learning new things and therefor I put myself in situations to do it a lot. Based on that, I have collected a few points from my experiences and placed them carefully in this blog for safe keeping. You may find them interesting to consider both when teaching and when learning new things.
First, watch the passionate and become them... They have put in the time and also their passion can be contagious. If you want to to truly excel at the new activity you need their passion so spend time with them. My advice: Don't try to learn from those that are not excited about what they teach.
Second , break it down into little steps and goals that build into the excellence you seek. You can't come out of the gate playing Beethoven's 5th, first you must play Chopsticks. The small simple steps create the feeling of progress and lessen the overwhelming nature of your end goal.
Third, if you have found the passion, built the little steps and goals into your learning plan then you are ready to apply what Malcom Gladwell calls the "10,000 Hour Rule" in his book Outliers. But... if you did not catch the passion from the passionate then this part can be trying if not insurmountable. Mr Gladwell shares that to truly excel at an item of interest you will need to practice the task for 10,000 hours. Direct application of the learning is key. This is my struggle as there is never quite enough hours in the day for all the application practice that needs to happen.
Fourth, your learning plan needs the element of time. You have to devote and schedule the time so that it becomes part of your daily ritual. If not, the urgent distractions will always displace your new passion especially as you find yourself  in the valley of frustration mentioned in this blog on behavior change through master planning. The learning plan and the master plan are quite similar and the points mentioned there transfer nicely.
Fifth, you have to keep the passionate surrounding you as coaches and mentors. you will face challenges and road blocks and you will need a fresh shot of their channeled enthusiasm and knowledge if you want to get unstuck. Besides most journeys are best with friends.
The sixth item that has helped me to learn new things is simple repetition. I create reminder cards and stickers and put them where I see them everyday. I also use learning aid to keep me fresh on task that I don't do as often. The act of creating this learning aids that shoes the basic steps and details required adds as much value as seeing them repeatedly posted around your world.
In closing I want to again point to the importance of passion in learning. My believe is that education without passion is fake and of limited value.
My hope is that these thoughts help you as you prepare to follow your passion and that you enjoy the journey it provides!

What is flipped classroom?

The flipped classroom is a what is known in education as a pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. Short video lectures are viewed by students at home or work before the face to face class session, while in-class time is devoted to application exercises, projects work, or group discussions.
The video lecture or elearning is often seen as the key ingredient in the flipped approach.
These lectures being either created by the instructor and posted online or selected from an online repository like our Sustaining Skills Video Series.
The notion of a flipped classroom draws on such concepts as active learning, student engagement, hybrid course design, and of course podcasting. The value of a flipped class is in the repurposing of class time into a workshop where students can inquire about lecture content, test their skills in applying knowledge, and interact with one another in hands-on activities. During class sessions, instructors function as coaches or advisers, encouraging students
in individual inquiry and collaborative effort.
In our situation we have seen where it lowers student frustration associated with first time application of knowledge and improves the ability of the student to apply concepts into their "real world" and specific situation thanks to in session face to face dialogue with the coach/instructor. This tool is used in both our Applied Learning Curriculum and Inspired Blended Learning Maintenance and Reliability Core Skills offerings.

Paying for the Sins of the Past: Your Improvement Initiative is Not Magical.

Today is a dose of reality, a tantalizing tenet of truth, a point to ponder, if you will. The point is you have to pay for the sins of the past whether you are talking about your health or the reliability of your facility. Said differently, you can't smoke for 25 years and expect to have the lungs of a track star the day you quit.
Now I know this seems obvious, but if it truly were obvious then companies would not expect wholesale change in an organization instantaneously upon implementation of a new improvement strategy.
For example, I recently visited a site that has made great strides in their facility implementing things like Planning and Scheduling, Precision Maintenance, Root Causes Analysis, Reliability Centered Maintenance, and the Predictive Technologies, but yet they were being described by some as ineffective and the efforts as a waste because the assets were still failing. Let me clearly state, if your site has been installing bearings with a hammer and a punch or aligning motor with string and a strait edge for the last 25 years then implementing precision maintenance will not fix all your problems overnight. Every defect that have been introduced to the asset base over the last 25 years will have to be detected and removed through replacement before you can comfortably say that the assets are healthy and precision is the norm. Now most of us can't afford to replace all the components damaged by our past sins so we look at the risk and the cost and we develop a plan that is perceived as having a reasonable chance of success. This will include some failures. Hopefully less of them will be a surprise as we mature into more predictive maintenance application but they will still appear.
If you are implementing any improvement strategies at your site, make sure that as part of your communication plan you let people know of the success that you expect of course and also of the sins of the past that will still need to be worked through. If we set this expectation early then the transparency will drive the change forward. Remember, you can't drive like a drunk in a rental car jumping ditches, change the oil and expect it to be a new car again.
What have you done to acknowledge and mitigate the risk of your past reliability sins?

Piloting Your Way Through The Danger Zone: A Look at Learning to be a Jedi

Learning has many variables and paths that you might follow as you travel to mastery of a skill. The skill could be one of mathematics, problem solving, or even being a pilot or a Jedi. As you learn the new activity or skill you travel about the graphic above.
While this graphic is only a learning model, we can see three distinct zones that could yield interesting thoughts as one analyzes the concept of learning.
The first phase is the Beginner Zone.
Here you find yourself excited to learn and with so little knowledge of the topic that you don't even know what transferable skills or talents apply to this learning quest. With this said, you may underestimate what you know and how much there is to know on the topic. You will be fixated on acquiring knowledge and teachers to guide you.
The second phase is the Danger Zone.
As time or as expertise grows, you will transition into the danger zone. Here, some students believe they no longer need their teacher or sensei. They believe they are better and more knowledgeable than the master that trained them. You can see this zone characterized in the movie Star Wars, Attack of the Clones where Anakin Skywalker (soon to be Darth Vader) began to believe he was better than the Jedi Expert and Sensei Obi Wan. This misunderstanding cost him his hand and led him to the dark side.  We also see this Danger Zone in aviation around the 250 hour of experience mark. At this point a lot of pilots begin to feel too comfortable in the airplane. They skip checklists and tend to get a little gutsy with their personal flight limits. Sooner or later, it catches up to them and they are either scared straight or wind up as an National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report. The Federal Aviation Administration accidents statistics also support the danger found in this zone. In the work place or on the conference scene this zone is demonstrated by the "know it alls" that want the world to see that they are "experts" with out the understanding to realize what they do not know on the topic. The point is if you do not recognize this phase it could cost you your hand, your career, or your life. 
The third phase is the Expert Zone.
At some level of maturity the learner realizes that what he or she knows is only a trace of the knowledge that exist in the area of study. This "humblization" of the learner allows them to transition to the Expert Zone. In Malcolm Gladwell 2008 book "Outliers," he wrote that "ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness." Now we know that not everyone will be an virtuoso at everything by 10,000 hours but I would contend that they stand a good chance of being in the expert zone. They know many if not most of the areas of the body of knowledge (BOK) and they can see that there is so much to learn about each of those elements of that BOK. They continue to strive to learn and grow in the topic as they travel this zone.

Where are you with the items your are studying. Are you in the Danger Zone in any of your pursuits?

May the force be with you on your learning journey and be safe young Jedi. 

Failure curves and P-F intervals linked and explained: Tying the two most important reliability engineering curves together to generate a better picture of failure

During the early development of what would become Reliability Centered Maintenance, Nowlan and Heap gave us six failure curves to the left. When folks first see that sixty eight percent fall into the infant mortality curve then the doubt fairy tends to show up. "Sixty eight percent of the failures in my facility are not instant or early on start up." With this thought they then discount the incredibly important failure mode data provided to us from these studies. What they are missing is the connection to the P-F curve below.

Preconceived Notions Get in Your Way with RCA

Preconceived notions very commonly get in your way with Root Cause Analysis. Here is a perfect example. In this picture you can plainly see that the people on the left are taller right? Look again... Maybe we did not have all of the facts at first. It seems that in the video there is more going on than we thought. Our notions of what a room is and how it is typically shaped do not hold true in this case. This irregularity, led us to a poor understanding of the situation. Many times we go after issues with our personal opinion of the problem and the solution predetermined and it blinds us to the truth of the matter. All the data must support the conclusion not just the parts that you like. I have seen these preconceived notions derail investigations time after time and, it is one of the reasons that I suggest not using subject matter experts as RCA facilitators in this blog. Check out this post for 5 ways to help prevent jumping to conclusions. Then let us know what thoughts and ideas you have for avoiding this common problem by listing them in the comments section below.

Learning through Application for Return On Investment

As we develop new curriculum for our clients, we have put an incredible amount of focus on moving them from "training for training sake" to training for a documented return on investment.
Today I thought I would share a few of the elements that you might look for or create for your training efforts to drive a return on investment.

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