Is this really for you?

Some of you reading this are quite happy in your present role, and you are satisfied with doing a good job and being paid fairly for that. Some of you have aspirations to proceed to management, and then maybe to executive management, using reliability as a method to project your value into the organization. And some of you, a small percentage of the people reading this, want to change the world. Some of us, not just you, are not satisfied until they have seen their influence written across major organizations throughout the world. And in today's labor market and economy, the good news is that this is entirely possible. The bad news is that this may not be possible for you to do. I really don't like to talk about this often. Most people do have inherent potential for many great things, but, unfortunately, not everyone is cut out to lead and inspire great change. In fact, only a few really are. So, does this include you? Let's see.

Can you sell?

If not, then can you learn to sell? Regardless of whether you are a consultant or a practitioner within a company, you must be able to sell. As a reliability change agent, you are responsible for selling your ideas, your visions, the value associated with your thinking and (at times) your ability to deliver this work. Do you know what happens to reliability engineers who cannot or will not "stoop" to selling? Nothing, that's the pity of it. They cannot sell themselves, their ideas, their visions or their aspirations for reliability and they end up frustrated and working in the back rooms.

Can you quickly state the value of your reliability project?

This is vital, critical, imperative! You need to be able to quickly state the value of whatever it is that you are doing. Do not talk about what you are going to do, talk about what you are going to achieve. As a consultant, I learned long ago that your boss will not talk to me about the infinite variations of RCM and their respective benefits. Not at all, ever! But she will talk to me about what the outputs are, what it is likely to achieve and how long it is likely to take. Whether you want to correct the data, fix the planning and scheduling, implement RCM, supercharge the RCA process, or start to move toward probabilistic methods; you must be able to easily express the value in terms your boss can understand. It is a tragic error to think that your boss just doesn't get it because he/she isn't sophisticated enough. She is, you just need to explain it to her in terms of outputs, not in terms of inputs or activities (not at first, anyway).

Are you willing to continue learning?

You do not know it all. In fact, you probably barely know enough to do your present job. Why do I say this? Because if you know all the elements of your present job inside and out, then you are wasting your time and there is no growth left for you. If you have read this far, I have a strong feeling that you are pretty motivated. Are you prepared to continue seeking out new knowledge? Not just in your direct area of concern, but also in related fields? What about your "soft" skills? Are you doing anything about that? Do not wait for your employer to train you. They are only going to give you what they need to make you useful today, not profitable tomorrow. So go for it yourself. Can you accept when you are wrong? I have now trained more than 3,000 people in RCM. Yet every single time, without exception, someone will tell me something in the course that will make me sit up and take notice. I learn something every course because I do not have all the answers. And neither do you. This is a growing field and still a new field. There has been an incredible growth just in the past five years in the number of things I know nothing about. There are many, many people out there who have something of value to teach you; don't let your ego get in the way.

Can you talk to your managers and executive leadership like peers?

Your bosses will not deal with people who are just a nodding head, or with people who just tell them what they want to hear. Face it. If you want to really influence them then you need to be able to relate to them as your peers, not as someone providing a service (e.g., not like the butler). There are lots more things to learn, but these should get you thinking about how you need to approach your career if you really want to make big changes at your company, and then at others later. (Maybe) Good luck, you will love it (I do).