Career Development

Ensure long-term sustainable success, not just short-term gains

Joel Leonard, contributing editor, travels the world in an effort to resolve the maintenance crisis.

By Joel Leonard, contributing editor

With the U.S. president being asked by his daughter if they fixed the leak in the Gulf of Mexico, after years of warnings, let’s face it, we are deep into the maintenance crisis.

To avoid future accidents, loss of life, congressional hearings, more criminal investigations and more regulatory oversight, let’s acquire new sensors to alert us of challenges, let’s install automation dashboards and control systems to monitor, manage and optimize our activities, and let’s build more pipelines of new workers so more disasters don‘t occur. Also, let’s upgrade our existing workforce’s decision-making skills and install process systems to ensure long-term sustainable success not just short-term gains.

I am not only challenging industry to elevate performance, but I am raising my game, as well. Below is a brief update on my quest to resolve the maintenance crisis.

If you remember from June’s Crisis Corner, I recently embarked upon on a worldwide crusade — from Europe to the southwestern U.S., and now onto Australia — to fight the maintenance crisis.

However, after returning from the Euromaintenance Conference in Italy, I celebrated Memorial Day a special way, by taking Elmer Lint, a World War II veteran suffering from macular degeneration, to Washington, D.C., to “see” the National WWII Memorial. He said, “I don’t know where the heck I am at, but I am here.”

He strolled along the monuments for each state, and, along the way, we encountered a teenager sitting on a bench with a sour look on his face. I thought we could fix this, so I asked him if he’d ever met someone who’d fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He scoured, “No,” and it appeared he wanted to be left alone to continue wallowing in his misery.

Let’s upgrade our existing workforce’s decision-making skills and install process systems to ensure long-term sustainable success, not just short-term gains.

– Joel Leonard, contributing editor

I responded, “Well, you have now.” Then he realized the gray-haired man with a blind cane was his history book incarnate. He leaped up and asked to shake Mr. Lint’s hand and thanked him for his service to his country, beaming with a huge smile. That chance encounter made both of their days; plus, it reinforced the fact that we have got to create more opportunities for intergenerational, interracial interactions if we are ever to fix not just the maintenance crisis, but also the social challenges we face.

Another interesting highlight of this trip was when I took Mr. Lint to see a media roundtable hosted by the Council on Competitiveness, a D.C. think tank working to advance U.S. competitiveness. During this discussion John Hofmeister, the former CEO of Shell, discussed the future of U.S. oil production in the aftermath of the gulf-coast disaster.

My next trip was to the annual Honeywell Users Group conference in Phoenix, where I saw very complex control systems to manage oil, gas and manufacturing processes. The capabilities of all the motion sensors, software applications, and new virtualization programs are amazing. During this event, I was able interview several Honeywell leaders and got more depth on how they are working to make these innovative and sophisticated programs more accessible to operators and managers so they can effectively drive out costs, improve processes and create performance gains. With all of the disasters hitting the headlines recently, I wish them luck and hope to connect them with the leaders of interactive 3-D curriculum development at the Harry Shaw Virtual College of Fayetteville Technical Community College in North Carolina so more talent pools can master these advanced technologies and we can eliminate future disasters before they happen.

As you can see, more resources are joining us in fight, Want to help? Send me a note and tell me how you would like to help or what your issues are, and I will do whatever I can to send you resources that can assist you.

And please tune into as we are uploading new videos and more SkillTV blog entries in this quest to correct failures before they occur. Next month’s column will share my experiences from down under.

To use an Aussie expression, “No worries, she will be alright,” but only if more people pitch in to fight against the maintenance crisis.

E-mail Contributing Editor Joel Leonard at