A mile wide and an inch deep

Jan. 26, 2009

The BIG BANG approach to implementing reliability, trying to tackle multiple areas at once, is one of the surest ways to achieve mediocre results.

I have seen this far too many times recently. Companies get sold on the idea of a suite of products, or on a comprehensive (or holistic) approach, or some other form of "kill 'em all" approach to problem-solving. 

The problem is that there are not enough leaders, not enough sponsors, not enough technical experts and not enough corporate bandwidth to implement everything to the level of detail required.

The BIG BANG approach to implementing reliability, trying to tackle multiple areas at once, is one of the surest ways to achieve mediocre results.

I have seen this far too many times recently. Companies get sold on the idea of a suite of products, or on a comprehensive (or holistic) approach, or some other form of "kill 'em all" approach to problem-solving. 

The problem is that there are not enough leaders, not enough sponsors, not enough technical experts and not enough corporate bandwidth to implement everything to the level of detail required.

And the final result? Under-supported initiatives, understaffed projects and analysis teams, overloading of a few particularly gifted and motivated people, and diverting resources from critical operational roles.

The worst-case scenario? Each of these initiatives ends up being a power base of its own with the champions or leaders battling it out on the corporate stage for support, funding and momentum.

It's designed for mediocrity, if not outright failure.

In the "good old days" of three months ago, this sort of indulgence might have been tolerated because of some wispy statements about potential future benefits and risk. (You heard it before, right?)

Today, this sort of diversion is a luxury that most companies cannot afford.  

Deep Vertical Approaches

Best results are achievable through targeting the nail that sticks out rather than all fronts at once.

For example, an RCM implementation can yield dramatic results in terms of increased revenues, reduced costs, reduced risk of safety or environmental failures, and an increase in corporate knowledge.

Do it to death. Keep everyone accountable from the very early statges, and make sure that you are actively tracking and banking the benefits regularly.

If the issue is compliance with regulatory requirements, particularly in, say, the field of instrumentation management, then look to really embed an instrumentation reliability program. Again, keep everyone honest, track the results, bank (or confirm) the benefits and then move on.

The secret of reliability improvement is that you do not have to do everything to get a substantial saving or change. You just need to do those items that will yield the most value at that point in time.

Start now, move quickly, bank the results and move on. Good luck.

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