Shon Isenhour

Recent Posts

Thankful Thinking: 7 List of Thanks

As we start the Thanksgiving week I could not help but think about the softer side of reliability. We focus so much on the technical issues and tools that drive reliability so let us focus on the people again. So many of the task that ensure reliability and profitability are thankless and often overlooked. This week I would challenge each of you to make a list of seven people that make your reliability possible. Once you identify your seven think about what would make their day better. It may be a few kind words, a pat on the back, a note left on their desk, or the purchase of a cup of coffee at break. Make sure they know how they help through out the year and specifically why you are thankful. The why is crucial because a general thank you just does not carry as much power. 
As I think back to my days at ExxonMobil I remember a maintenance technicians who took the time to teach others, and an operator that was interested in learning the equipment and the best setup techniques, and a parts clerk who really demonstrated pride in keeping the parts defect free. Don't forget the others like the janitorial staff that make it a pleasant environment to work in and the security team that helps get your contractors through the gate each day.
We at Eruditio would like to thank all of the people that have been a part of our first two years. You all have made it awesome and we are indebted to you for your trust and support.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

Is The MTTR Metric Killing Your Reliability?

Metrics or Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are a force for good when they are used at the right time and with the right complementary or supporting elements. But, when they are used at the wrong point in a facilities maturity they can have unintentional consequences, or even worse they can drive the wrong behaviors.
An example that I continue to see causing more issues than it is solving, is the use of the KPI known as Mean Time To Repair (MTTR). When this metric is used alone, in immature organizations, or without an understanding of the unintentional consequences it can drive your organization in the opposite direction of world class performance. If your organization is immature from a reliability cultural standpoint and you choose MTTR as your focus then you set yourself up to become very reactive by being very quick to respond to failures. The facts are:
  • Reactive response is at least 5 times more expensive than planned and scheduled work . 
  • Operations will beat on you to get faster and faster at responding so that you lower MTTR. 
  • Rushed repairs are less reliable.
  • Reactive response requires more expensive spare parts stock.
  • Repetitive failures and repairs increase the chances of the introduction of infant mortality failures. 
  • You will find yourself with high skilled maintenance technicians just standing on the manufacturing floor doing nothing while waiting on a failure to occur. 
  • Pressure to make the repair as quickly as possible can lead to taking elevated safety risks either intentional or unintentional. 
Many of the sites that choose MTTR as a primary metric early in their reliability journey create a brigade of firefighters on the ready with crash carts and mounds of spare parts. What we really want is to prevent the failures from happening to start with or at least reduce the frequency. For that we might use other metrics like Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) early on and then deploy MTTR, after we increase the reliability of our systems. This later use of MTTR will allow us to address the issues we can't prevent and to understand any training gaps and other issues that might be affecting repair times.
Picture it this way: If MTTR is all you have then your organization will create tools like crash carts and quick response teams instead of using tools like Root Cause Analysis (RCA) to understand and eliminate the reoccurring problem. From the real world, I have seen bearing quick change carts developed to speed up re-occurring failures repairs where it they had just tensioned the belts properly the failures would have been eliminated.  Five really fast 2 hour bearing replacements is still much worse that bearings that don't need repairs at all. This site needed to understand better not respond quicker.
Are your metrics driving the wrong behaviors? Are you using them at the right time?
Tell us what metrics have not worked for you and why in the comments below. 

Not Running From the Saber Tooth Tiger: Reactive to Proactive Leadership in 3 Steps.

Life pushes us to be reactive and we learn it from an early age. When we are young, we stick a fork in a power outlet or touch a hot stove and then we react. That becomes the predominant learning style as we grow. It is how we learn the concept of cause and effect. But later in life we are told that proactive is better but, this goes contrary to what has shaped us up to this point. Why would I want to be proactive? Why should I change? That is not what my past has reinforced.
So lets answer those questions first, and then talk about how we can become a more proactive leader moving forward. While reactivity allowed or ancestors to run from the saber tooth tiger, proactivity would have allowed them to not run into the saber tooth tiger in the first place or at the very least show up with spears for protection. Proactivity lessens the chances of needing reactivity which has been scientifically proven to lower the blood pressure in people like me (Cake loving non-athletes). High blood pressure is mostly bad so, we want that metric to trend down to a point. Why stir up the chemicals and hormones of stress if you can identify the risk early and address them before they attack you like a saber tooth tiger.
So how do we do it? No matter what project or task you want to manage or lead proactively you can get started with three steps.
First, decide what success would look like for the task or project. What are the goals? How do you know you have won? Knowing these elements first helps with the follow on activities.
Second, ask yourself what could go wrong that could jeopardize your goals or success with the task or project. List out each of these risk. Some will involve people. Some will involve resources. Be a real Negative Nancy and list as many as possible (get out you inner project negativity). Once you have the risk listed then prioritize them. I use a simple 1(low risk) -10 (high risk) scale with three categories multiplied together to rank the risk list. The categories are: severity, likelihood of occurrence, and ability to proactively detect. Once this is complete you can move onto step three.
Third, you create a plan to address the high risk items early before they occur. Many of the steps to address the risk will be communication action items that will need to be drafted in advance to explain that an issue is expected and that this is what we are doing about it proactively.
We could spend the rest of the day discussing the intricacies of proactive project and task leadership and management but these are the three overarching steps you should be taking to keep from being eaten by the saber tooth tiger you are trying to manage.

Five questions you have to answer before your next change initiative.

We all are part of change initiatives and interestingly the majority of them fail to deliver the results expected or projected. When we look back at the ones that failed to deliver, we find many that were destined to fail from the beginning because of the way the change was unveiled and communicated to the affected individuals. Below are five question that are crucial to answer upfront, repeatedly, and through multiple medias. I will demonstrate the questions using a hypothetical Enterprise Asset Management System (EAM) or Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) implementation as the example and share a few elements that satisfy a portion of the questions.  
1. Why are we doing this? 
 Example: Tell them about the transparency the new EAM provides.  You might also share the fact that it is connected with all of the other management systems from procurement and human resources and it allows the business to be better managed by tearing down the walls between these departments. In the end it will make the business more efficient and will help us to surpass our competitors. 
2. What does this look like?
Example: Show them the master project plan for the EAM roll out with the dates and areas of focus. Allow them to drill down into the plan so they can see the details where it is of interest. This will help with the next question. 
3. How will it affect me? or What's in it for me?
Example: Show them how the new system will change their current role. Hopefully you can show them areas where the new system is easier and better for them. This can be done with the work flow process maps or the RASI or RACI documents that were created during the blueprinting phase of the EAM implementation.  If RASI or RACI is a new acronym check out this post here.
4. What do you expect from me?
Example: This is where you can take them through specifically the "R's" or Responsibilities relating to their role. These are shown in the RASI documents. These responsibilities are what is required for the process to work effectively and it shows what you need for them to do specifically to meet the needs of the change.
5. What can I expect from you?
Example: This is where you might share the "R's" that you own and what you will also provide from an "A" or accountability standpoint.
These examples only begin to scratch the surface of the information that you need to provide but should give you some context for each question. Please take the time to plan out how you are going to communicate each of these points out to all the different groups that will be affected by the change.
 If you have other questions that we should consider please add them in the comments below. 

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 ReliabilityNow.com 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?

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