Make a difference by taking the role of a consultant

Sept. 22, 2005
Make a difference by taking the role of a consultant, or if necessary, an “insultant.”

The biggest challenge in maintenance is that most organizations don’t fully understand and appreciate maintenance’s value. Part of the reason is most maintenance professionals are so focused on technical knowledge that they’re oblivious to the needs of corporate culture.

Culture — sounds like bacteria, doesn’t it? In fact, corporate cultures are like organisms. They can grow, age and die. The Web site provides the attached table of attributes. How is your plant doing?

To change an organization’s behavior, it’s necessary to change structure, processes, systems, rewards and even people. It’s difficult, and you might ask, “Why should maintenance take a lead to rejuvenate the business?” Well, who better knows how the business really works? And until we begin calling more of the shots, we’ll only get what others give us.

You can make a difference by taking the role of a consultant, or if necessary, an “insultant.” Campaign to change the priorities in your organization. Educate everyone about the price of the “bean-counter” mentality: “We're going to save money, no matter how much it costs.” Work to shame actions that cause aging, and glorify actions for growth by catching people doing things right.

Here are some inspirational quotes to help you have the right attitude:

  • “When in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging.” — Ken Sheridan
  • “You can pay me now, or you can pay me more later. Good maintenance is expensive; bad maintenance is extravagant.” — Pete Little
  • “Be a leader first, a businessman second, and then a maintenance resource.” — Rex Gallaher
  • “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things, because the innovator has for enemies all of those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who will do well under the new.” — Nicolo Machiavelli

When the attacks come, and they will if you’re effective, continually demonstrate your value and contributions to the organization to bulletproof you and your team. Pursue outside certification to elevate your titles, develop outside supporters who share your vision, and use industry benchmarks to validate your views further.

To gain the support of your team and of potential detractors, remember these words: “If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, then we did it. If anything goes real good, then you did it. That's all it takes to get people to win football games for you.” — Bear Bryant

Being an insultant is not without risks. Sometimes the squeaky wheel doesn't get greased — it gets replaced. But with persistence, strong vision and leadership skills, more maintenance professionals can cross the chasm from the boiler room to the board rooms. The more of us who make this leap, the more reliable and capable corporate businesses will become. Press on to greatness!

Closing the culture gap

Growing Companies

Aging Companies

Personal success stems from taking risk. Personal success stems from avoiding risk.
Expectations exceed results. Results exceed expectations.
Emphasize function over form. Emphasize form over function.
Focus on why and what to do. Focus on how to do things and who did it.
Keep people for their contributions, despite their personalities. Keep people for their personalities despite their lack of contribution.
Everything is permitted unless expressly forbidden. Everything is forbidden unless expressly permitted.
Problems are seen as opportunities. Opportunities are seen as problems.
Marketing, sales and product development drive the organization. Accounting, finance and legal hold the real political power.
Line managers call the shots. Corporate staff calls the shots.
Responsibility is not matched with authority. Authority is not matched with responsibility.
Management drives the organization. The organization drives management.
Exist to create value for customers. Exist to provide profits to its shareholders.
Can’t find enough cash to fund their ideas. Can’t find enough ideas for all their cash.
Invest in growth. Invest in themselves.
Need consultants to help them grow. Need “insultants” to help them change.

Email Joel Leonard at [email protected].

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