Guide to Optimal Maintenance & Reliability--Culture and Leadership

HOME | FAQ | Books | Links

AMAZON multi-meters discounts AMAZON oscilloscope discounts

1. Introduction

Successful implementation of a new practice, small or large, is a challenge for any organization. The implementation requires enthusiasm rather than distrust or fear from the individuals who will be impacted by the change. Guiding, nurturing, and shepherding the workforce are the skills needed to ensure that changes are received and implemented with a positive attitude. Usually, how the workforce perceives these changes as well as their beliefs, values, attitudes, and expectations, are a few of the factors that need to be evaluated and considered in developing a "change" implementation plan.

Leadership plays a key role in enabling this process by providing both vision and resources. Creating a reliability culture conducive to change is a long journey.It’s not just the maintenance workforce that needs to change their thinking, but also others in the organization (operations, production, design, stores, information technology, etc.). All need to be working together as a team to create a sustainable reliability culture.

The vision of where the organization wants to be is an important element of creating a reliability culture. Steven Covey, a leading motivation al author, emphasizes the importance of mission, vision, and goals when he talks about "beginning with the end in mind" in his famous best seller, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. According to a study of a Stanford Management professor reported in The Wall Street Journal, organizations using mission and vision statements successfully outperform those that don’t (with the key being these organizations actually using their mission and vision statements).When we visualize, we are able to materialize and convert our vision into goals and then into reality.

All organizations want to improve their processes in order to become efficient and effective. For a maintenance and reliability (M&R) organizational culture, progress requires not only reducing but also eliminating failures while optimizing and educating the workforce to perform their tasks effectively.

These efforts could require significant changes in work practices, processes, and organization structure. Eventually these changes become part of their daily work habits in the organization and lead to a positive reliability culture. But for these changes to truly become part of a reliability culture, an effective change management process must be executed.

2. Terminology

Change Management --The process of bringing planned change to an organization. Change management usually means leading an organization through a series of steps to meet a defined goal. Synonymous with management of change (MOC).

Culture --A common set of values, beliefs, attitudes, perceptions, and accepted behaviors shared by individuals within an organization.

Cultural Change --A major shift in the attitudes, norms, sentiments, beliefs, values, operating principles, and behavior of an organization.

Leadership --An essential organizational role that must establish a clear vision, communicate that vision to those in the organization, and provide direction, resources, and knowledge necessary to achieve goals and accomplish the vision. It may require coordinating and balancing the conflicting interests of all members or stakeholders.

Mission --An organization's purpose.

Mission Statement --A broad declaration of the basic, unique purpose, and scope of operations that distinguishes the organization from others of its type.

Organizational Culture --The beliefs and values that defines how people interpret experiences and how they behave, both individually and in groups.

Strategy --An action plan that sets the direction for the coordinated use of resources through programs, projects, policies, and procedures, as well as organizational design and the establishment of performance standards.

Vision --The achievable dream of what an organization or a person wants to do and where it wants to go.

Vision Statement --An overarching statement of the way an organization wants to be; an ideal state of being at a future point.

3. Leadership and Organizational Culture

What Is Organizational Culture?

Culture refers to an organization's values, beliefs, and behaviors. In general, it’s the beliefs and values which define how people interpret experiences and behave, both individually and in groups. Culture is both a cause and a consequence of the way people behave. Cultural statements become operationalized when leaders articulate and publish the values of their organization. They provide the pattern for how employees should behave. Organizations with strong work cultures-including reliability cultures-achieve higher results because employees sustain focus both on what to do and how to do it.

Behavior and success are key enablers in creating the culture. There is circular flow of mutual causation among organizational behavior, success, and culture, as shown in FIG. 1. When a change is accepted by the team members, it changes their behavior. They do tasks differently as required by the new change. Then, if this change allows work to get done more easily, they can see some success. This success makes them accept the change and leads to changing habits or routine work methods.

Eventually it becomes culture to do the tasks the new way (FIG. 2).

FIG. 1 Organizational Culture and Success Flow

FIG. 2 Change and Culture

Leadership's Role in Creating and/or Sustaining Organizational Culture

Leaders at both the corporate and plant levels must keenly understand the impact reliability has on the bottom-line performance of the organization. The valuation of an asset-dependent organization is significantly affected by the effectiveness with which that asset is managed. Leadership is a key enabler in creating an environment to implement reliability strategies, which helps in fostering a "reliability" culture in the long run.

True leadership is uncommon in today's society and organizations because it’s not genuinely understood. Furthermore, it has been misinterpreted, according to James McGregor Burns, author of the book, Leadership. He wrote in this landmark guide that: Leadership is leaders inducing followers to act for certain goals that represent the values and the motivations - the wants and needs, the aspirations and expectations - of both leaders and followers. And the genius of leadership lies in the manner in which leaders see and act their own and their followers' values and motivations. Recently General (ret.) Colin Powell said that "Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says possible". In fact, in The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell, aspiring business leaders would do well to adopt Powell's style.

Powell captured his leadership approach within 18 lessons:

1: Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.

2: The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you don’t care. Either case is a failure of leadership.

3: Don't be buffaloed by experts and elites. Experts often possess more data than judgment. Elites can become so inbred that they produce hemophiliacs who bleed to death as soon as they are nicked by the real world.

4: Don't be afraid to challenge the pros, even in their own backyard.

5: Never neglect details. When everyone's mind is dulled or distracted the leader must be doubly vigilant.

6: You don't know what you can get away with until you try.

7: Keep looking below surface appearances. Don't shrink from doing so (just) because you might not like what you find.

8: Organization doesn't really accomplish anything. Plans don't accomplish anything, either. Theories of management don't much mat ter. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved. Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great deeds.

9: Organization charts and fancy titles count for next to nothing.

10: Never let your ego get so close to your position that when your position goes, your ego goes with it.

11: Fit no stereotypes. Don't chase the latest management fads.

The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team's mission.

12: Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.

13: Powell's Rules for Picking People: Look for intelligence and judgment and, most critically, a capacity to anticipate, to see around corners. Also look for loyalty, integrity, a high energy drive, a balanced ego, and the drive to get things done.

14: Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.

15: Part I: Use the formula P = 40-to-70, in which P stands for the probability of success and the numbers indicate the percentage of information acquired. Part II: Once the information is in the 40-to-70 range, go with your gut.

16: The commander in the field is always right and the rear echelon is wrong, unless proved otherwise.

17: Have fun in your command. Don't always run at a break neck pace. Take leave when you've earned it. Spend time with your families. Corollary: Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves; those who work hard and play hard.

18: Command is lonely.

Harari, a management professor and biographer, reports Colin Powell engages in "the kind of practical, mission- and people-based leadership that ... has translated into performance excellence and competitive success." Powell doesn't use bluster to inspire his troops. He is polite and "is not interested in intimidating people. He is convinced that frightened people don't take initiative or responsibility and that their organizations suffer as a result." On the other hand, Harari says Powell doesn't mind making people angry-particularly in pursuit of organizational excellence. "Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off," Harari quotes Powell, who believes that good leaders must defy the status quo.

Harari closes The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell with this observation: "Leadership is not rank, privilege, titles, or money. It’s responsibility."

The book Lincoln on Leadership--Executive Strategies for Tough Times, points out the following of Lincoln's principles on leadership.

• Get out of the office and circulate among the troops.

• Build strong alliances.

• Persuade rather than coerce.

• Honesty and integrity are the best policies.

• Never act out of vengeance.

• Have courage to accept unjust criticism.

• Be decisive.

• Lead by being led.

• Set goals and be results-oriented.

• Encourage innovations.

• Preach a VISION and continually reaffirm it.

In modern days, Lincoln's principle of "Get out of the office and circulate among the troops" is known to us as Management by Wandering Around (MBWA), as dubbed by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman in their 1982 book, In Search of Excellence. The principle has also been referred to us by other names and phrases, such as "roving leadership," "being in touch," and "get out of the ivory tower." It’s simply the process of getting out of the office and interacting with people. Peters and Nancy Austin, in A Passion for Excellence, define MBWA as "the technologies of the obvious."

Leaders emerge in every life situation to guide others along a particular path of change and toward a final destination point. Effective leader ship is not easy. History has shown us that the responsibilities and hazards of leadership are as great as its rewards. Recent studies in the field of leadership recognize and stress the need for building strong interpersonal relationships and bonds. In their book, Leaders, the authors note "leadership establishes trust, leaders pay attention; they have the ability to trust others even if the risk seems great." The first dictionary definition of "leader" describes a primary shoot of a plant, the main artery through which the organism lives and thrives. In much the same way, organizations prosper or die as the result of their leader's ability to embody and communicate the organization's vision.

How the M&R leader influences others very much dictates the health of the M&R department and, ultimately, the entire organization.

FIG. 3 Leadership Attributes Survey Results

Effective visions, according to Tom Peters, are inspiring. They should be "clear and challenging - and about excellence." It consists of a concise statement or picture of where the organization and its people are heading and why they should be proud of it. An effective vision empowers people and prepares for the future while also having roots in the past.

Leadership creates vision and energizes people to make organizations and people successful. FIG. 3 shows the results of a survey ranking five key attributes of leadership.

1. Charisma

2. Competence

3. Communication

4. Energizing people

5. Vision (in creating)

Leadership plays an important role in creating vision and energizing the workforce, as reported by this survey. One of the important factors impeding success in an organization is a lack of or not enough leadership support to implement changes. It has been found that successful leaders share a number of qualities needed to improve their processes. They support:

• Creating the organization's vision and mission

• Ensuring resource availability

• Empowering line managers with authority and accountability

• Ensuring both individual and group goals are aligned with the organization's vision and goals

• Viewing training as an investment in developing the workforce rather than an unnecessary expense

• Aligning and integrating all changes and process improvements (the best practices) towards meeting the organization's overall objectives.

4 Strategic Framework: Vision, Mission, and Goals

Both the organization and its people need to establish a strategic framework for significant success. This framework, which is illustrated in FIG. 4, consists of:

• A vision for the future - Where are we and the organization going?

• A mission that defines what we are planning to do - What will be accomplished?

• Values that shape our actions - Why are we going in this direction?

• Strategies that zero in on key success approaches - How will we get there?

• Goals and action plans to guide our daily, weekly, and monthly actions - When will we get there? An organization's success and our personal success depend on how well we define and live by each of these important concepts. In fact, it has been found that organizations whose employees understand the mission and goals enjoy a 29 percent greater financial return than other organizations, as reported by the Watson Wyatt Work Study. The "Workplace 2000" Employee Insight Survey reported that U.S. workers want their work to make a difference, but 75% don’t think their company's mission statement has become the way they do business.

FIG. 4 A Strategic Framework for Success


A vision statement is a short, succinct, and inspiring declaration of what the organization intends to become or to achieve at some point in the future. Vision refers to the category of intentions that are broad, all-inclusive, and forward-thinking. It’s the image that a business must have of its goals before it sets out to reach them. It describes aspirations for the future, without specifying the means that will be used to achieve those desired ends.

Corporate success depends on the vision articulated by the organizational leaders and management. For a vision to have any impact on the employees of an organization, it has to be conveyed in a dramatic and enduring way. The most effective visions are those that inspire, asking employees for their best and communicating that constantly. A vision statement is a pronouncement about what an organization wants to become. It should resonate with all members of the organization and help them feel proud, excited, and part of something much bigger than them selves. A vision statement should stretch the organization's capabilities and image of itself. It gives shape and direction to the organization's future. Visions range in length from a couple of words to several pages.

Sample vision statements are given in FIG. 5.


FIG. 5 Sample Vision Statements

Organization -- Vision Statement

The Coca Cola Company "Bringing to the world a portfolio of beverage brands that anticipate and satisfy peoples' desires and needs. Also, being a great place to work where people are inspired to be best they can be." Federal Express "FedEx is committed to our People - Service - Profit Philosophy. We will produce outstanding financial returns by providing totally reliable, competitively superior, global, air-ground transportation of high quality goods and documents that require rapid, time-certain delivery." Kraft Foods "Helping People Around the World Eat and Live Better." Harley-Davidson "To fulfill dreams through the experiences of motorcycling." Wal-Mart "To give ordinary folk the chance to buy the same things as rich people." "To be a premiere resource for advancing Physical Asset Management (modified 07/14/10)." The Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professional's (SMRP) The Ford Motor Company "To become the world's leading consumer company for automotive products and services." "To become the global organization known for providing competitive advantage through improved physical asset management."


A noted writer on leadership, says, "To choose a direction, leaders must have developed a mental image of the possible and desirable future state of the organization. This image, which we call a vision, may be as vague as a dream or as precise as a goal or a mission statement".

SMRP is a leading, not-for-profit, maintenance and reliability society; it provides opportunities for its members to exchange best practices and other educational and networking opportunities through conferences or workshops. It has taken the initiative to standardize maintenance definitions including metrics. The certification arm of SMRP has a vision to have at least one Certified Maintenance & Reliability Professional (CMRP) in every plant in the world.

FIG. 6 Sample Vision Picture

Sometimes a picture portraying the vision can convey the message very effectively. FIG. 6 is a picture displaying the intent of an organization's vision statement. This organization developed its vision picture in the mid-1990s to become the best M&R organization. The buses (people) are lined-up to see their successful M&R program. They have come a long way from a reactive mode to a proactive, reliability-based culture; their journey to excellence continues in spite of several changes in upper management of the M&R organization.

Examples of some maintenance vision statements include:

1. Maintenance Vision Statement To leverage a highly-skilled workforce and employ effective maintenance strategies in order to position XYZ organization as the leading manufacturer across the industry.

2. Maintenance Vision Statement A world-class maintenance system with a standardized approach to plan, execute, track, and analyze maintenance and production processes.

The vision must convey the essence of how the organization desires to accomplish feats that prove to be big, exciting and compelling.

Mission Statements Mission and vision statements are very different. A mission statement is an organization's vision translated into written form. It's the leader's view of the direction and purpose of the organization. For many corporate leaders, it’s a vital element in any attempt to motivate employees and to give them a sense of priorities.

A mission statement should be a short and concise statement of goals and priorities. In turn, goals are specific objectives that relate to specific time periods and are stated in terms of facts. The primary goal of any business is to increase stakeholder value. The most important stakeholders are shareholders who own the business, employees who work for the business, and clients or customers who purchase products or services from the business.

The mission should answer four questions:

1. What do we do? What is the purpose of the organization?

2. How do we do it? What's unique about the organization?

3. For whom do we do it? Who are our customers and stakeholders?

4. What are our values and beliefs?

What do we do? This question should not be answered in terms of what is physically delivered to customers, but instead by the real and psychological needs that are fulfilled when customers buy our products or services. Customers make purchase decisions for many reasons, including economical, logistical, and emotional factors.

How do we do it? This question captures the more technical elements of the business. Our answer should encompass the physical product or service, how it’s sold and delivered to customers, and how it fits with the need that the customer fulfills with its purchase.

For whom do we do it? The answer to this question is also vital as it will help us to focus our efforts. Anybody who uses our products or services is our customer. It could be a person or system next in the production line that takes what we build or provides a service. In a broader sense, it could include stakeholders for whom we ultimately do it.

What are our values and beliefs? Values and beliefs guide our plans, decisions, and actions. Values become real when we demonstrate them in the way we act and the way we insist that others behave. In forward-looking and energized organizations, values are the real boss. They drive and keep the workforce moving in the right direction.

Three Main Benefits Attributed to Mission Statements

1. They help companies focus their strategy by defining some boundaries within which to operate.

2. They define the dimensions along which an organization's performance is measured and judged.

3. They suggest standards for individual ethical behavior.

In his book, First Things First, Steven Covey points out that mission statements are often not taken seriously in organizations because they are developed by top executives, with no buy-in at the lower levels. But it's a pretty safe assumption that there probably is buy-in when we develop our own mission statements.

First Things First is actually about time management, but Covey and his co-authors use the personal mission statement as an important principle. The idea is that if we live by a statement of what's really important to us, we can make better time-management decisions. The authors ask, "Why worry about saving minutes when we might be wasting years?" A mission statement may be valuable, but how in the world do we go about crafting one? As one way to develop a mission statement, Covey talks about visualizing your 80th birthday or 50th wedding anniversary and imagining what all our friends and family would say about you. A somewhat more morbid, but effective approach is writing your own obituary. Can we visualize what it would be like if there were no asset failures or if production met their schedule without any overtime for one month, even three months, or if there was not a single midnight call for three months and we were able to sleep without worrying?

Developing a Mission Statement

• The mission statement should describe the overall purpose of the organization.

• If the organization elects to develop a vision statement before developing the mission statement, ask "Why does the image, the vision exist - what is its purpose?" This purpose is often the same as the mission.

• When wording the mission statement, consider the organization's products, services, markets, values, concern for public image, and maybe priorities of activities for survival.

• Ensure that wording of the mission is such that management and employees can infer some order of priorities in how products and services are delivered.

Some example mission statements related to M&R are: A Physical Plant Mission Statement

The Physical Plant Department is a service organization whose main purpose and goal is to provide the best possible facilities and climate in which to support the instruction, learning programs, and public services of the university. We strive to make our customers feel nurtured, inspired, and uplifted by the excellence of our service and the caring concern of our service providers.

Mission Statement of a Maintenance Department

To manage the business of maintenance in a manner that facilitates a production effort which yields high quality products, low operating costs, utilizes all resources, and involves production and maintenance employees working together towards a common goal.

Mission Statement of a Maintenance Organization

To maximize equipment performance, fostering an environment of ownership and pride, through a structured approach to predictive and preventive maintenance.

Society of Maintenance & Reliability Professionals (SMRP's) Mission Statement

• Facilitate information exchange through a structured network of maintenance and reliability professionals

• Support maintenance and reliability as an integral part of business management

• Present a collective voice on maintenance and reliability issues and advance innovative maintenance and reliability practices

• Promote and support maintenance and reliability education for people, production, and quality processes to improve the work environment If the environment changes, mission statements may require revisions to include additional or different needs being fulfilled, delivery systems, or customer groups. With this in mind, vision and mission statements should be revisited periodically to determine whether modifications are desirable to more accurately reflect the current environment or strategic direction.

SMRP recently reviewed and updated their mission statement. It says now:

"To develop and promote leaders in Reliability and Physical Asset Management".

Corporate Strategy

Strategy is a very broad term which commonly describes any thinking that looks at the bigger picture. Successful organizations are those that focus their efforts strategically. To meet and exceed customer satisfaction, the business team needs to follow an overall organizational strategy. A successful strategy adds value for the targeted customers over the long run by consistently meeting their needs better than the competition does.

Strategy is the way in which an organization orients itself towards the market in which it operates and towards the other companies in the marketplace against which it competes. It’s a plan based on the mission an organization formulates to gain a sustainable advantage over the competition.

The objectives must be:

• Focused on a result, not an activity

• Consistent

• Specific

• Measurable

• Related to time

• Attainable

Setting Goals

The major outcome of strategic planning, after gathering all necessary information, is the setting of goals for the organization based on its vision and mission statement. A goal is a long-range aim for a specific period. It must be specific and realistic. Long-range goals set through strategic planning are translated into activities that will ensure reaching the goal through operational planning. Examples of an M&R goal include achieving 90% PM compliance or reducing the overtime to less than 5% in a specified time period.

5. Change Management

No matter how many goals are set or how grand the vision, an organization can go only as far as the organizational culture will allow it. Any organization that will succeed in a culture change must have some form of a change management process. Even if the organization does not have a formal (written-down) change management process, a process will exist in that organization. However, the success rate of these changes will probably be limited by the charisma of the leadership or the vision of its team.

Changing a culture from reactive thinking to proactive follows a similar process to what was mentioned in Section 2.2 in answering the question "What Is Organizational Culture?" It has to be shown why preventive and condition based approaches are better than reactive work. Making people change what they do or how they think takes time. After all, it took them a long time to build their current habit. People do certain things certain ways. In turn, when we ask them to do things differently or ask them to buy into our plan (vision), we are taking them out of their comfort zone.

We must have very convincing reasons for people to change; we must inspire them to accept change. These reasons would help greatly in the implementation process. We have found that implementing changes in small steps or in a small pilot area helps the process. FIG. 7 shows the culture change process.

Organizational change management takes a structured approach to change, helping executive management, business units, and individual employees make the transition from the current state to the desired future state. The goal is to assist employees in assimilating change: to minimize the disruption of expectations and loss of control that can easily lead to resistance on the part of those who must actually change.

FIG. 7 Culture Change Process

Two key elements of any successful effort to change the culture are:

1. Influencing the behavior to change

2. Overcoming resistance to change

To influence the behavior to change, the following actions are suggested:

• Increase understanding (i.e., why the change is needed and how it relates to vision).

• Set goals and expectations.

• Establish a process for praise and recognition.

• Define and clarify roles.

• Establish and standardize process and procedures.

• Create discipline, develop tenacity, and be persistent.

To overcome resistance to change, the following actions are suggested:

• Listen and communicate.

• Create awareness.

• Educate and train to create understanding.

• Get team members involved and let them see some success.

• Empower team members to improve and tailor the process - change if needed.

Role of a Change Agent

The change agent is another important person who helps implement changes successfully. Change agents have the clout, conviction, charisma, and resourcefulness to make things happen and keep others engaged in implementing change. They usually have a number of skills including:

• They understand the organization's politics to get work accomplished, but don’t participate in the work.

• They have a good understanding of processes, the improvements needed, and interface issues, including any financial impact of the change.

• They are keen analyzers who can persuade and defend changes to every level of the organization

• They speak several organizational languages or have certain back grounds or traits - marketing, finance, operations, engineering, etc.

• They have a passion for improvement; in essence, they bring order out of chaos.

The change agent is a very important role in an organization that is trying to implement a reliability culture. This role should be filled by a senior management person who has the respect and trust of the people.

6 Reliability Culture

What Is Reliability Culture?

Can we define reliability culture? What does it mean if someone says that organization XYZ has a reliability culture? Is there a metric to measure it? The problem is that culture - any kind of culture - is a "touchy feely" concept that is difficult to define and specifically measure.

We can see the impact of a reliability culture in the final outcome or services provided by the organization. Reliability improves the bottom line of an organization because it can meet the customer's needs on time and cost effectively. In a reliability-based organization:

• Assets are reliable and available as and when needed -- High UPTIME

• Assets are functioning and producing as designed

• Maintenance costs are reasonable (at optimum level)

• Plant operates safely and reliably

The importance of reliability and implementing best M&R practices are discussed at the highest level of the organization. Most organizations talk about RCM/Reliability, but it's treated as the "program of the month" and loses its emphasis over time. Changing an existing culture of "run-to failure" or little/no PM program to a sustainable reliability culture takes many years and consistent management support and resources.

In a reliability culture, prevention of failures becomes an emphasis at every organizational level. The entire workforce is focused on asset reliability. The workforce - operators, maintainers, engineers - think and act to ensure:

• Assets are available to produce when needed

• Assets are maintained at a reasonable cost

• An optimized maintenance plan (RCM/CBM based)

• An effective facility maintenance plan - 80/20 principal applied to prioritize the work. Most of the work is planned and scheduled.

If an asset fails, it gets fixed quickly, the root cause is determined, and action is taken to prevent future failures. Facility/asset reliability analysis is performed on a regular basis to increase uptime. The workforce is trained and taught to practice reliability-based concepts and best practices on a continuous basis.

Reliability Culture - Creating and Sustaining Let us look into a real plant scenario where an asset breakdown/failure has occurred.

Operations reported that "Valve P-139" would not close. An Operations workaround was used to divert the process temporarily.

The breakdown was reported to the Maintenance Department with an urgent request in the CMMS/EAM system to fix the valve.

The following events happened:

• Maintenance dispatched a mechanic to evaluate and fix the valve.

• Mechanic noticed "a burning smell" upon arrival, and suspected the electric motor on a hydraulic pump had burned up. He called an electrician to help.

• Electrician determined that the motor had failed. He asked his supervisor to find a replacement motor.

• Supervisor called the Storekeeper, who found that no spare motor was available.

• Supervisor called Operations to report that the motor had failed and would take a couple of days to repair. Operations demanded the repair immediately, so the supervisor called the Plant Engineer to help locate a spare motor.

• Plant Engineer and Supervisor found the same type of motor on a similar system not being used. Supervisor sent another crew to remove this motor while the first crew removed the failed motor.

• Maintenance replaced the motor and adjusted linkages due to sluggish operation. The valve was released to Operations.

• The work order was closed with comment "valve was fixed."

• Operations were so happy with a four-hour repair time (rather than two days) that they sent an e-mail thanking the maintenance crew for a job well done.

What kind of culture does this plant have? What kind of message is being delivered to the workforce? It appears that this organization has a reactive culture. Fixing things are recognized and appreciated.

Now, let us look into another plant with the same breakdown scenario, but where the sequence of events happened a little differently:

• Maintenance Supervisor/Scheduler visited the site and assessed the failure, finding that the valve linkage was tight and dry, along with a failed electric motor on a hydraulic system.

• Supervisor/Scheduler assigned a mechanic and an electrician, and requested both a 6-month chronological history report and a recommended parts list. He also alerted the plant engineer of the problem.

• Electrician determined that the motor had failed (burned). The overload relays didn't function properly. Mechanic found that linkage was tight due to inadequate lubrication.

• The repair history (attached to the Work Order) showed the following problem - a few months ago: Problem with valve closing. Mechanic had adjusted and greased the linkage. The hydraulic pressure on the system had been raised from 1500 psi to 1800 psi to make the actuator and linkage work smoothly.

• Repair plan included replacement of the motor and overload relays, restoration of hydraulic pressure to system design, and greasing/ adjustment of linkage. A spare motor was available as a part of the repairable program.

• Work was completed as planned. Operator was supporting the repair and helped in testing the system. The valve returned to operation.

• The WO was closed and repair details documented.

• Operations were pleased with a two-hour repair. The maintenance manager personally thanked the maintenance crew for a job well done and for finding the root cause. He then asked them for a plan of further action needed to improve the reliability for review in 10 days.

Now let's consider what happened in this plant. It seems like this plant was doing fairly well. A lot of things went well during this repair and in the follow-up actions suggested by the Maintenance Manager. But is everything going as well as it could? Is the CMMS/EAM system providing the data we need to make the right decisions? What kind of message is being delivered to the workforce? What kind of culture is in this plant? In this plant, the CMMS/EAM system has provided the information to help make the right decisions. The maintenance manager is emphasizing failure prevention. It's a proactive culture - a step in the right direction.

Now let us look into another plant, a similar type of situation, but where events happened a little differently. In this case, the plant operations (Operator) noted that on Valve # P-139:

• Motor: Current data on operations panel indicated a higher-than normal current. The visual inspection and site visit indicated that the valve actuator was running sluggish. Maintenance was alerted by the operator.

• Maintenance evaluated the situation with the help of the operator and planned the repair on a scheduled downtime period.

• The repair was completed and there was no unscheduled down time. All repairs were documented in the CMMS/EAM system for asset history.

• PM tasks were reviewed and root cause analysis performed. Based on this analysis, PM tasks were updated. A work order to redesign the linkage based on root cause analysis was also issued to design / engineering.

• Operators were thanked for watching the asset/system closely

What happened in this plant? What kind of culture does this organization have? In this plant, "Failure" was identified and addressed before it happened. Additionally, ...

• Operations and Maintenance worked together as a team

• System provided the "warning" data

• Process was designed to make it happen

In this organization, the reliability/maintenance leaders have done their work. They provided the right tools, trained both operators and maintenance, and created the right culture - a reliability culture.

7. Measures of Performance

Leadership is one of the most prominent aspects of the organization al context. However, measures of leadership effectiveness are difficult to quantify. Leadership is a critical catalyst for driving change in the organization to add value. To measure the impact (effectiveness) of leadership, we need to understand to what extent it influences and drives performance. Leadership is basically the capacity of someone to bring about change; in turn, it allows us to leverage it for greater organizational performance.

An accepted model for measuring leadership comes from the book "The Leadership Challenge: How to Keep Getting Extraordinary Things Done in Organizations". The authors have devised the so-called Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI). The LPI Measurement Model uses a series of questions to assess leadership effectiveness. People under designated leaders are observers, evaluating leaders on a series of qualities, such as:

• Discusses future trends regarding how they (the leaders) can change their work

• Provides positive feedback on accomplishments

• Follows through on promises

• Treats others with respect

• Solicits feedback and opinions from others

Leaders are also required to assess their leadership based on several behaviors, such as:

• Sets a good personal example

• Actively listens to other viewpoints

• Supports others in their decisions

• Willing to take certain risks and experiment Performance measures in Leadership can be classified into four categories: People Initiatives, Collaboration Initiatives, Organizational Initiatives, and Professional Success Indicators. People Initiatives describe the measures which leader-managers take to enhance employee engagement. It includes factors like Reduced Turnover, Improved Safety, Succession Planning, and Employee Effectiveness.

Collaboration Initiatives include KPIs (key process indicators) like Collaboration with stakeholders and shareholders, Information Sharing, Problem Solving Time, and Consensus Building Exercises. It indicates the factors which describe the initiatives taken by the leader for improving collaboration and flow of information in the organization.

Organizational Initiatives take into consideration indicators such as Goal Achievement, Key Processes, Change Management, and Evaluation and Assessment. These factors help define the future direction of the organization. Professional Success indicators include Qualification Level, Experience Level, Successful Projects Undertaken, and Industry Contacts of a leader-manager. They indicate the power, influence, and knowledge of the leader.

The Development Dimensional Institute (DDI) identified four distinct attributes of a leader in "Optimizing Your Leadership Pipeline for: STRATEGIC LEADERS." They state that promising leaders / executives exhibit a distinctive mix of skills / competencies, knowledge, experience, and personality attributes.


Typical critical skills/competencies for executives include:

• Demonstrating an understanding of the competitive global business environment as well as an awareness of economic, social, and political trends that impact the organization's global strategy.

• Establishing and committing to a long-term business direction based on an analysis of systemic information and consideration of resources, market drivers, and organizational values.

• Leading change, from identifying opportunities for improvement and supporting a better approach for addressing work process issues to advocating for organizational transformation.

• Entrepreneurship, which is demonstrated by actively using knowledge to create or seize new business opportunities.

• Vividly communicating a compelling view of the future state in a way that helps others understand how business outcomes will be different when the vision and values become a reality.


Depending on their role, senior leaders need:

• Background on how to build a long-range strategic plan.

• Intimate understanding of customers' requirements, markets, and key competitors.

• Working knowledge of talent management functions, including compensation, employee training and development, performance management and measurement, recruitment, selection, promotion, succession management, union contracts, and bargaining.

• Knowledge of product design and management, research and development, distribution, and supply chain management.

• Keen insight into how to best create relationships with boards of directors, analysts, and investors.


Before assuming leadership roles, leaders might require experience in:

• Creating a corporate culture.

• Managing a diversity of functional areas.

• Having profit/loss responsibility for a business.

• Global leadership assignments.

• Managing a large operation.

• Playing a key role in a joint venture or merger.

Personal Attributes

Some of the key attributes successful leaders should demonstrate include:

• Ambition, initiative, competitiveness, and leadership potential.

• Inquisitiveness, imagination, gregariousness, and a need for social interaction.

8. Summary

Corporate success depends on the vision articulated by the organizational leaders and management. For a vision to impact the employees of an organization, it has to be conveyed in a dramatic and enduring way.

The most effective visions are those that inspire, usually asking employees for the best, the most, or the greatest. A vision explains where the organization wants to be and is an important element of creating a reliability culture.

Culture refers to an organization's values, beliefs, and behaviors. In general, this culture is concerned with the beliefs and values of people based on their interpretation of experiences and how they behave, both individually and in groups. Cultural statements become operationalized when leaders articulate and publish the values of their organization which provide patterns for how employees should behave. Organizations with strong reliability cultures achieve higher results because employees sustain focus both on what to do and how to do it.

When we visualize, we are able to materialize; to convert our vision into goals and then into reality. Leadership is an enabler in this process by providing direction and resources to make this happen.

Creating a sustainable reliability culture is a long journey that requires sound change management practices. Many organizations get impatient and stop supporting reliability change or implementing best practices in the organization; they fail to understand it takes many years to create a sustainable reliability culture.

To sustain a reliability culture, the reliability/maintenance leaders in an organization must continue to provide the right tools, training, and education to both the operators and maintainers together as a team. They need to ensure that the workforce is always current on:

• Knowledge - of best practices

• Teamwork - to assure communication and understanding

• Focus - on the right goals for business success

• Planning - to create a roadmap for knowing where they are and where they want to be

• Processes - documentation, adherence, and discipline

• Measurements - to provide feedback and control and to ensure that they, the leadership, continue to support the continuous improvement environment and are creating a conducive, sustain able culture


  • 1 What are the key attributes of a leader?
  • 2 Why is vision important?
  • 3 Define MBWA. Why is it considered one of the key leadership practices?
  • 4 Define an organizational culture.
  • 5 What are the key benefits of having a mission statement?
  • 6 Why are mission and vision statements important for an organization?
  • 7 Define reliability culture.
  • 8 Why is change management an important part of creating the right reliability culture?
  • 9 Define the role of a change agent. Who is best qualified to perform this role?
  • 10 State the differences between a manager and a leader.

Prev. | Next

Article Index    HOME   Project Management Articles