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Jim Vantyghem

CULTURE - To be or not to be?

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As a preface to this topic, please note that the following is of my own opinions and I welcome your thoughts on the topic.

On the topic of culture, I have read many articles and heard many statements stating that Culture is either the root cause for poor results and/or should be the focal point for making mass improvements in our business worlds.

So what is Culture and is it really one of the major problems or one of the primary saviors to our business success?

For me, culture is like a blanket that wraps itself around something more substantial. if we just speak of culture on its own we can see many examples which can be either good or not so good. Drug cartels are engulfed in a culture as are religions, clubs, gangs, etc. I am sure if you think about these examples you would agree that a drug cartel may not be a culture you wish to be a part of. To add to this, cartels function and are driven with a purpose and have members who are loyal and most likely follow a set of rules and values.

With regards to what I have stated above, I truly believe that in order to create an effective and efficient maintenance and engineering system and/or any manufacturing process, it starts with a SYSTEM.

A SYSTEM that is built on

  • Proven protocols.
  • Mission statements.
  • Established rules and values.
  • Clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
  • SOPs.
  • Properly selected and installed process lines and equipment.
  • Development  of PM inspections inclusive of inspection time frames.
  • Material management protocols.
  • Work order management along with repair history protocols.
  • Time management protocols.
  • Reporting management - established KPIs.
  • Established training matrix with see, hear, touch approach applied.
  • Carefully selection of employees and so on.

Once a SYSTEM has been established then it is of my opinion that a culture is created and nurtured to blanket itself around this foundational system. The system and its supportive culture should not adapt to people but people should adapt to the SYSTEM. In the book "Good to Great" Jim Collins points out this fact with an example of a wheel and inertia. When a wheel is in motion it tends to stay in motion until acted upon by an opposing force.

Given the example above, this is what happens when a specific management group has established a system for conducting business, only to have this management group replaced by a new group. The introduction of a new management group usually follows with a change in the system, thus like a wheel, when a system is in place and stopped to be replaced by another system. The energy to stop and start again in a different direction is massive and weakens the system and more so the culture.

This pattern keeps repeating itself to a point whereby the morale, thus culture, is massively damaged thus causing poor production throughput and poor product quality! In addition, we wonder why people do not like change.

Again, the above is of my own opinions and experience, but I am curious to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Have a great day!

Sincerely,

Jim

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Hi @Jim Vantyghem,

Another great topic! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!

I truly believe that, if a company does not have a well defined, implement and kept system as you mentioned, achieving poor results will be just a matter of time.

If we want to nurture a positive culture, policies should be defined, written and everyone should be trained on that. However, it is important to mention that all staff members, from those who are on the front line to those who are on the board of the company (especially those), should practice such system every single day. 

 

On 1/3/2020 at 4:46 PM, Jim Vantyghem said:

In the book "Good to Great" Jim Collins points out this fact with an example of a wheel and inertia. When a wheel is in motion it tends to stay in motion until acted upon by an opposing force.

 

Regarding the quote above, I totally agree with Jim Collins, as well as with you. Defining a system for a new company is not easy; however, changing a system is even more complicated.

For some reason, this quote reminded me a video that I watched a few years ago in which Jorge Paulo Lemman was interviewed. Lemman, is a Brazilian entrepreneur, who owns big companies, such as the drink and brewing company AB-Inbev (Stella Artois, Budweiser, Corona...) and Heinz (Warren Buffet is his partner), is famous for his risky management strategies. During the video he mentioned that one of the fastest ways of changing the culture of a company, is by renewing part of its staff members, otherwise too much time and energy would be spent.

I am not saying that I agree with his point of view, not at all. But it definitely made me think. In somes cases, that might be inevitable, but on the other hand, a leader should try to nurture the new culture on a daily process.

What do you think?

 

Regards,
Raul Martins

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With regards to Culture, here are some additional thoughts on the topic for which I had posted on my journey segment.

 

For the past couple of years I have been researching several documents, websites, posts, articles, podcasts, and books etc., on the topic of reliability maintenance / engineering looking for those who can provide a proven model of excellence.

So far, I am grateful to have gained a lot of new insight in the world of maintenance reliability especially from those who have shared their experiences who may not be recognized as experts or professional, but in their own way have achieved such success.

What I have been looking for is a simplified solid strategical maintenance implementation plan for the purpose or means of maintaining and continuously improving the throughput, reliability, quality and capacity of a company’s assets for the betterment of the company and the customers it serves.

To start, in the world of Neuro Linguistic Programming there is a process labelled as “Modeling”.  Here is a definition pulled from the internet.

NLP Modeling is the process of recreating excellence. We can model any human behavior by mastering the beliefs, the physiology and the specific thought processes (that is the strategies) that underlie the skill or behavior. It is about achieving an outcome by studying how someone else goes about it.

Using this theory, if an individual, group, company etc., wishes to expedite its ability to be successful, finding and modeling an already proven success plan should provide the same successful results with additional benefits as a reduction in time, energy and capital required to meet the goal.

In addition, the advantage is that all the hard work of trial and error has already been experienced and solutions provided.

Tony Robbins bested described this method using a chocolate cake analogy. I am sure you are asking yourself what does chocolate cake have to do with maintenance and it would be a good question to ask.

  • Let’s say you like chocolate cake and the best chocolate cake you have ever tasted is approximately 200 miles / 325 kilometers away from where you live in a small pastry shop owned by a master pastry chef.

     

  • Of course, this distance is too far to travel regularly to buy the cake, but you personally know the chef.

  • So, you decide you would like to learn how to make this chocolate cake and you ask yourself what is the best way to do this?

  • The best answer to this is to follow the chef in the kitchen and take notes to form the correct/precise recipe!

  • The chef agrees to teach you how to make this cake.

  • You meet the chef and the first ingredient that chef requires is 2 cups of flour. Now this is not just any flour, but a special type of flour that is only found is a few select stores. So you need to make a note of the special flour needed and add another note indicating where the flour can be purchased because it is a specialty item.

  • The training continues on and you continue to take notes determining how much a dash of this and a pinch of that really equates to in measurable units.

  • All of a sudden, the chef tells you that he is about to show you the secret ingredient!!!!!

  • He shows you a can of tuna fish and your reaction is WHAT????? ARE YOU CRAZY???? 

  • Who would put tuna fish into a chocolate cake, but remember this is the best chocolate cake you have ever tasted!!!!!

  • Now this is not just any tuna, it is 170 gram metal container of solid tuna packaged in oil (not water).

  • As the tuna is added, the chef continues on, the cake is baked and, of course, it tastes exactly the way you remember.

So, how does this story relate itself to maintenance, reliability, asset management etc., and what can we learn from this?

  • Like the chocolate cake, having a proven recipe or plan is paramount for success but not just a plan. We must carefully choose the plan that best meets the company’s (and/or department) needs / requirements. In addition, a plan that will provide clarity of the steps required to obtain the level of success desired and accomplished in least amount of time possible.

     

  • Remember every recipe has a chef (just like every orchestra has a conductor) that created and perfected the recipe in the first place. This said, what attributes does this chef, in this case project manager/leader, have that makes him/her successful … what level of education, type of education, management style, leadership qualities etc.?

 

  • In addition, as we cannot ignore that fact that we live with various levels of management who seemingly gravitate towards instant gratification, having a plan that can provides positive results / returns in a relatively short period of time helps maintain the morale and support needed to keep the plan moving forward.

 

  • NOTE: A plan does not necessarily have to be perfect but needs to provide a majority of the proven steps necessary for the success we are looking for. Having flexibility within the shell of the plan will also provide an opportunity for creativity and growth of all parties involved.

 

  • Recipes have specific ingredients and sequential steps that must be followed. Attempting to change, add or omit ingredients, quantities and/or any sequential steps WILL change the results.

 

  • To prove the above point, how many of us have experienced the effects of “Cherry Picking”. In this case cherry picking refers to reviewing tasks that need to be done and selecting only those tasks that are seemingly easy to complete and/or provide a false sense of accomplishment for individuals looking to advance their careers.

    • Production supervisors who do not follow the sequential order of a production schedule as a means to insure that their production throughput for their shift is met or exceeded risk the chance of late delivers to specific customers.

       

    • Maintenance staff members who only select the easily PM inspection and/or repairs to be done leaving the more difficult tasks for other staff members or shifts to do. (NOTE: This is why work must not only be strategically planned & scheduled but also well managed).  The effects of this usually leads to the very problem trying to be avoided … “Reactive Maintenance”.

  • In summary, like a recipe, a good plan will allow for some flexibility but still must follow a specific order of tasks and associated requirements. Not following the plan may provide less than desirable results. We must take the difficult with the easy and if the level of anticipated success has fallen short of the desired outcome, go back to the plan and see if anything had been missed, skipped and/or if the correct plan was put into action to begin with.

     

  • Thank you for sharing your information, experiences, thoughts and advice. For the company I am presently employed with I will be following up shortly with a 2020 snap shot of the status of the company's current maintenance & reliability endeavors.

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On ‎1‎/‎7‎/‎2020 at 5:30 AM, Raul Martins said:

I am not saying that I agree with his point of view, not at all. But it definitely made me think. In somes cases, that might be inevitable, but on the other hand, a leader should try to nurture the new culture on a daily process

Raul,

If culture is the issue, what is the root cause?

Your share proves to be an interesting scenario as it points to diverse thinking patterns. I, like you, cannot say if this is a right or wrong approach.

Given Mr. Lemman’s position, I am sure it would be fair to say that he (like so many other shareholders) is in the business of making money and providing a service. He likely doesn’t want to know the details of how the money is made as per his position at such a high level of executive management. I suspect his primary thought or concern is just do whatever it takes to sustain a profit.

So, in saying this, it reminds me of the statement “The means justify the end” whereby a good outcome excuses any wrongs committed to attain it. Thus, if the results or profits are not being maintained at the desired target than based on Mr. Lemman’s management philosophy, which leans towards more instant or short term gratification, Mr. Lemman would thus find other professionals to restore the business to the desired outcome. Given that there is a possibility that a high level of capital is available, the impact doesn’t dramatically phase him. This, in my opinion, is a reactive maintenance type scenario.

Imagine working for a company knowing that you have to perform at high levels of expected output and thus stress. In addition, possibly witnessing many inefficiencies, but not having the possible support to make the necessary required changes to introduce long lasting positive effects due to time constraints.

This type of culture exists in far too many companies worldwide and an interesting viewpoint would surround the possible root cause to this most likely starting with the inception of the business proposal and stakeholders involved. This said, poor, incomplete, insufficient details of the foundational plan or system creates the underlying ground work for the latency effect of reactiveness months or years later.

So, to your point, strong, well balanced, knowledgeable, experienced, high emotional intelligent leadership can make all the difference in the world to establish a good foundational system and/or repairing an existing flawed system. In turn, blanketing this strong foundation with a st supported by a culture

Sincerely

Jim

PS - Paul Daoust on Linked, has some diverse view points on this topic as well.

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Hi @Jim Vantyghem,

Wow, congratulations for the solid answers always based in studies!

So you started using NLP modelling in the company you work for? 

I have superficially studied NLP in the past, and it seems to be an interesting approach when it comes to business management. However, I had never met anyone applying such method in Maintenance Management, which I think this would result in a fantastic outcome!

Please, keep sharing with us your experience using this method in your daily routine!

 

On 1/9/2020 at 1:15 AM, Jim Vantyghem said:

So, to your point, strong, well balanced, knowledgeable, experienced, high emotional intelligent leadership can make all the difference in the world to establish a good foundational system and/or repairing an existing flawed system. In turn, blanketing this strong foundation with a st supported by a culture

His point is exactly culture. When you have a staff member who simply refuse to adjust to a new culture, he says that he may have no other option. When it comes to maintenance management, imagine having an employee who is stuck in a reactive culture, and although you try to show him the benefits of proactive culture, which includes not only the financial results, but also having a safer, as well as happier workplace, he refuses to adjust. In some cases, even a competent leader may struggle to make it happen, especially when you have 100 other team members, unplanned shutdowns, cumbersome processes to deal with and so on and so forth.

As I mentioned before, whether it is a usefull, or even a fair strategy, or not, I do not know. If I would use it? Probably not.

But the complexity of the topic makes me think about it and seeing different perspectives of this is great!

 

Regards,
Raul Martins

 

 

 

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