Friday, April 29, 2011

Implementations Like Silly Putty?

I have noticed that implementing change in organizations is a lot like Silly Putty. Silly Putty is bouncy and resilient (See the video below) as long as you pick it up and roll it around in your hand but if you just make a ball and put it on the shelf it goes flat pretty quick. OK, lets stop there and take a look at some real silly putty. 
In Figure 1 you see silly putty that I have put some energy into and you can see it is a nice round ball. 
In Figure 2 you can see what happens when you create a nice ball but then you just put it in place and don’t involve yourself with it going forward.

Now just in case you doubt that it bounces, take a quick look at the video again. 
Implementing change works the same way. First even if you create great new business processes or buy the best new system or tool they fall flat in mere days if you lose focus or quit putting some energy into them. If your initiative falls flat it takes a lot more energy and time to reform it and put it back in place.
Safety is a great example of this phenomenon. We put a little energy into our safety programs every day through daily tool box meetings, communications and other medias. As a result safety in manufacturing has increased every year in most industries. What do you think would happen if we took down the signage, removed the metrics and never mentioned it again? I am sure that within a few short months the trend toward safety would start to reverse. 
What new systems or business changes are you trying to make resilient and are you putting in that little bit of energy each day to make them successful?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pretty Pants Planners

I don’t know about you guys but I sometimes find myself on a soapbox about certain topics and recently this has been one that I keep running into and I keep finding myself up on the box.

How many of you have the dreaded triple “P”? “Pretty Pants Planner” You find them in maintenance organizations of all size and industries. They tend to be the opposite of the “gofer” planner which you may also know of. The “gofer” planner is a planner normally told to go “fer” this and go “fer” that. This planner does not have a clear future focus and is typically just running parts, information, and tools in a reactive manner for the maintenance supervisor and to the craftsmen. On the other hand the “Pretty Pants Planner” lives in a world where they hardly ever even see the plant floor. In the wild, you will recognize these planners by their clothing and the tendency to cohabitate. Typically they shun the standard plant attire and wear nice pants and designer shirts, sometimes in even white. These pants have never seen the soils of manufacturing or the sweat of the production process. Now please don’t misunderstand my rant, I do not believe that planners should be on the floor all the time after all the planners primary function is to create job plans. The amount of floor time should and will vary with the maturity of the organization. (See Figure 1 below) The red in the first continuum represents the immature planning organization as more of the elements are are put in place then the organization moves to green. This is tied to the second continuum that shows "gofer" to triple P. Notice a mature organization does not reach the extreme triple P end of the scale.
Figure 1 The Continuum for Planning Maturity
 Click the graphic to enlarge
To speak in extremes, if your site has limited or nonexistent planning maturity characterized as: no Job Plan Library, limited accurate Bill of Materials, no Preventive Maintenance (PM) task, no predictive maintenance (PdM) program, lack luster Computerized Maintenance Management (CMMS or EAM), underutilized business processes, then your site will need more planners (ratio of 8:1) and the planners will need to spend more time on the floor. If you are in this situation then you will need to fight harder to keep the planners from getting sucked into the day to day work that is the world of the supervisor.
To move to the other extreme as shown on the chart in figure 1, if you have a very mature organization your planners will spend much less time on the floor (and there will be less of them per craftsman 30:1) but they still should be out there 10% of their work week.
This time on the floor is used to review the plans and insure that nothing has changed or has been missed. For example how many times have you seen craftsmen arrive to the site of a planned job and realize:
a. that they do not have a special tool that is required
b. a pipe is in the way of completing the plan as is
c. a guard has been added and not considered in the plan and the time estimate that was put forth.
Many of these situations can be eliminated with a walk through with the planned job in hand prior to the week of execution.
The key for these facilities is striking the balance based on their maturity.

So I leave you with these questions:
How mature is your organization?
Where on the scale are your planners?
Is there a match?