Plant Services Editor in Chief Thomas Wilk hatched a plan with George Williams and Joe Anderson to create a podcast series titled “Assets Anonymous.” The idea was for each monthly episode to address one aspect of how to gain better control over your maintenance processes and ultimately drive improved throughout and greater profitability.
All episodes are now available at www.plantservices.com/the-tool-belt, and this month’s cover story draws from each episode to deliver an extended sample of the advice shared by Joe and George. This is part three of our six-part series.
Step 5: Knowing Where You Stand
You’ve both published articles with Plant Services about the importance of knowing the maturity and skill set of your plant team. Why is “knowing where you stand” the fifth step in this process, rather than an earlier step?
GW: The first four steps really focus on a broader understanding of reactivity and proactivity, and I think this step is the first one in taking some action. This step and Step 6, “Knowing Where You're Going,” really help create the strategy and the direction for you to move into a more proactive state.
For me, knowing where you stand is a never-ending cycle. In my previous life, we had lots of sites that varied in their maturity. And I used to explain to them that the goal was not that everybody necessarily be at the same level. The winner is not who is further along in maturity. The winner is who closes the gap the most, who takes effort and puts knowledge to action. And so for me, knowing where you stand is the start of all of those things. It's really a slap in the face sometimes but we need that.
JA: You can't begin a journey if you don't know where you are, right? The hardest thing for people is to understand first what “right” looks like; and then second, where they compare to what right looks like so they can begin the journey towards that direction. Being honest is difficult for some people because the mentality today is to look green, not red. But your goal is to find the red and go after the red, and typically in most organizations that red is low-hanging fruit. So it's quick wins, it's an easy driver to get people engaged in the success and get them off the fence and getting them to jump in. So understanding that and assessing honestly, I think, is the key to this whole thing.
Step 6: Knowing Where You Are Going
GW: If you're still cloudy about where you're at, understanding where you're going gets a little more complicated, but it is a complex issue. It's more than the tactical pieces of asset management and operational performance. Knowing where you're going also involves, how do you align to the overall organizational objectives? Does the language of where you're going align to that in such a way that you will gain support versus gain friction? And what am I going to do today to take one step closer to that goal?
JA: I'll tell you for a lot of organizations, if you could just focus on tomorrow, that would be great. But it should be more a five-year type plan: What is that vision of the future state? And it depends on the industry. In some industries, things move very, very, very slow. You have red tape and procedures and all this stuff that you have to get through to make movements. And in other industries, it's not so much, where tomorrow I could go out, write a PO, have a PO on my desk in five minutes, and already be initiating something. And in some organizations, it could take me six months to get that PO.
It's about having a vision and setting goals that align to that vision – that's just the strategic part. Then the tactical part is setting objectives and tasks that align to the goals and the vision, and making sure that it all aligns with the organizational objectives.This story originally appeared in the November/December 2022 issue of Plant Services. Subscribe to Plant Services here.