Step Into Fantasy World

Join me in Joel Levitt’s fantasy world and imagine that over the door is a sign, "Department of Vehicle Health."

What is missing for us to be able to expand into this role? There are three parts. The first part is that we continue to build expertise in vehicle health and push to change the focus from reactive to proactive maintenance. We continue to get really good at predicting what will occur based on historic data. Almost all maintenance departments are already either working on this or saying that they are working on this.

The second part of this new expertise is to master the operating modes and conditions of the vehicle. We know what happens in the operation and how it is likely to impact the life of the vehicle.

The third expertise is in accounting and economic modeling. We may need to become experts in economic models that include run-to-failure, run-with-shutdown, run-with-PM or run-with-whatever scenarios. Right now the decision to run-to-failure is made in most organizations by default without data and without expert input from the Department of Vehicle Health.

We have to be able to answer: given the facts of the value of the production, the impact on the customers of missed or late shipments and the costs of the additional deterioration, what direction should we go? Should we run all out or stop for maintenance? We want to be at the table when "Which is the better business decision?" is discussed.

We have to be able to look at the life cycle cost per part made or gallon shipped. What would be the impact of increasing production with the existing vehicle? If we do this what additional maintenance will be needed and when will it be needed?

The million dollar question: How would you start up this conversation in your company?

If that is the conversation we want to create, how do we do it? Why is it hard to change the behavior of an organization or an individual? It is hard to change a company culture (or even a families’ culture). The reason it is difficult is that the fundamental conversations have not been understood and dealt with. These old stories and assumptions still run the show and any new cultural changes are merely smeared on top.

In order to permanently change the status of maintenance we have to begin by noticing the existing conversations. The old culture is anchored in place by structures, incentives, memory and custom. As such it takes no extra energy to keep the old culture in place. The next thing is to disassemble the structures that hold those conversations in place while at the same time creating new ones.

Right now the work is to see what conversations are going on in the company about maintenance. We have to look below the surface, turn over rocks and listen without getting mad. The next step is to see what reports, customs and incentives hold the old conversations in place. Once the field is cleared out, we are free to invent new conversations. The final step is to begin building new reports, incentives and customs to support these newer, healthier, more successful conversations.

Joel Levitt has trained morre than 6,000 maintenance leaders from more than 3,000 organizations. Since 1980, he has been the president of Springfield Resources, a management consulting firm that services a variety of clients on a wide range of maintenance issues.