Playing Your Players

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In the last newsletter we discussed Breaking the Chain of Bad™ in which some part of the chain of events that leads to an undesirable outcome needs to be severed in order to prevent the problem from recurring. In effect, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is a form of insanity.

As I note in Chapter 6 of ‘Physical Asset Management for the Executive,’ if you have a team and plan a strategy, the best strategy utilizes the capabilities of the participants, not a strategy that follows a formula that does not use these skills. “It is much like a sports team in that if you coach to a strategy, then your season will be poor; if you coach and develop your strategy to the capabilities of your players, you will do very well.”

When working on the chain of culture within an organization you cannot just demand that the change occurs. There are socio-economic relationships that will strongly resist this type of attempt, in most cases, resulting in head-butting and distraction from the mission of the organization. There are a number of concepts related to sustainable cultural change within any organization that must be considered.

First, it is important to understand that change will take time. As outlined by Jack Welch, and a ‘law’ within business philosophy, is that any corporate level program will take an average of 12-24 months to accomplish true sustainable results. The first steps in a program may see significant visible improvements, or few measureable improvements, until the program matures. Cultural change is a huge corporate effort that increases with the size of the organization.

Second, any effective program requires a corporate level strategy and consistency. Regardless of how ‘flexible’ a company is, any organization and human psyche requires direction and consistency. This requires a focused company strategy that is understood, communicated and pursued. It is critical that all levels of the organization, leadership especially, lives and breathes the strategy. While signage and statements re-enforce the strategy, if leadership is not following it with laser-focus, then it will not be followed. The human psyche is designed around pattern recognition – if leadership is not following the pattern that they wish others to follow then others will not follow that pattern.

For example, if the organization states that communications is key, but then does not have a system or consistent path for communications, then communication is not key. It is equally important that consistent communications, the same message, is broadcast to everyone. Distractions occur when different parts of the organization are given conflicting instructions.

Third, reasonable goals must be set and they must be measureable. The team must be able to see progress in order to feel that they are successful.

Fourth, it must be considered an open-ended process. There is never a goal-line, only a roadmap. The roads never end, but there must still be benchmarks to identify progress and direction.

The use of consultants may be important to a company. However, it is equally important that the consultant is a guide, understands the business and industry, and does not try to apply a religion to the organization. By this I mean, a set of rules that do not fit the organization, or type of organization, but instead represents a cookie-cutter approach. For instance, in the case of RCM, the selection of a consultant that only applies one flavor of the process should be rejected.

Yes, that was sacrilegious! How dare I!?!

It is critical that a true consultant provides a solution that meets the corporate structure and capabilities. The approach should be an approach of open awareness and flexibility. The best consultants are simply guides who provide information and options, not individuals who are trying to convert an organization to their image. That is the responsibility of corporate leadership. A weakness in leadership becomes readily apparent if they allow a consulting organization manage the company.

Whether you are leading a department or company, it is leadership’s business to set the tone. Structured efficiency or managing chaos, the choice is yours. Focus on the parts that you can influence and do not frustrate yourself attempting to force the areas that you cannot influence – it will only serve as a distraction.


Howard W Penrose, Ph.D., CMRP

Forensic Analysis of a Silicone Oil Filled Mobile Transformer

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Abstract- When a number of new silicone oil filled mobile transformers failed, an evaluation of one of the remaining transformers was commissioned. The forensic analysis involved the tear-down and evaluation of the working transformer and components. In this paper we will discuss the steps involved in developing this type of forensic analysis, a few of the findings, and recommendations. Problems identified a range from design issues through to insulation coordination issues that did not cause the initial failures, but were identified as high risk future issues.

Read the story in in the Archives!

Work Flow Concept and Design for Maintainability

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The concepts of Work Flow Concept™ (WFC™) and Design for Maintenance™ (DFM™) are not unique. They were born in the efforts of production and operations sciences and industrial engineering. The primary difference is that we are going to match these traditional manufacturing principles to the application of maintenance scheduling and planning. This is not a significant leap nor is it particularly complex.

Components of WFC:

  •  Determining the maintenance task through processes such as RCM (Reliability Centered Maintenance);
  • Performing time and training studies in order to determine the time necessary to perform tasks and to determine optimal methods for performing the tasks;
  • Development of best practices to match the optimal task methods. These should be created in terms of processes and may include times for actual steps;
  • Determine qualifications of individual maintenance personnel for these practices;
  • Benchmark existing or similar best practices and determine the gap between these benchmarks and existing personnel capabilities;
  • Develop goals for the individual personnel based upon the gap; and,
  • Schedule according to the capabilities of personnel.

The ideas behind DFM are outlined in “Physical Asset Management for the Executive,” ( and are designed to work with programs and processes being utilized by the organization. DFM is the process and planning around the WFC.