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How to be an effective internal consultant
Improving Reliability and Maintenance from Within
(Resistance Discovered)

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   by Stephen J. Thomas
Published By:
Industrial Press Inc.
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That which doesn’t kill you will make you stronger


9.1 Resistance Discovered


Suppose that one of your initiatives as an internal consultant was to work with the site personnel to develop a detailed planning and scheduling process. The process was to focus on detailed work plans and deciding a week in advance the planned jobs that would be executed in the coming week. As part of the work process, you held meetings that included not only Maintenance, but also representatives from your customer, Production. This work took your team a considerable amount of time in order to develop all of the details of the process and to make certain that the requirements of all those involved were addressed. As the process was completed, you and your team launched into the training phase; over several weeks, you trained all of the maintenance and production personnel.  


Then the much anticipated day of deployment arrived. At first everything appeared to be functioning well. However, after several weeks you noticed that the number of unplanned jobs was still at the same level as before the new process was deployed. You know this couldn’t be correct because the new process was designed to eliminate virtually all of the unplanned work. As you investigated the problem, you discovered that the production supervisors and their maintenance counterparts simply decided not to follow the process. Their logic was that the work the crews were doing needed to be done now; it couldn’t wait several weeks to go through the planning and scheduling process. Essentially they were telling you and the work process team that they were not going to do what was asked.  


In another example, suppose that your plant deployed a new preventative maintenance program. This new program required the mechanics to work in a much different manner than they had in the past. Previously, they were assigned to the production line and performed the work assigned to them by the line operators. When these assigned tasks were completed, they returned to their staging area and awaited a call with their next assignment. In the new program, they were being assigned daily preventive maintenance tasks that had to be completed to keep the program in compliance. In addition, they were reassigned from working for Production to working for a preventive maintenance foreman whose job it was to keep the program moving.  


As an internal consultant, you were given the task to discover why the program never was able to stay in compliance. You also had to determine why, even with documented preventive maintenance being performed, the equipment was still failing at the same rate as before the program was introduced. After some investigation, you discovered that, although the mechanics were performing the preventive maintenance tasks, they were not doing them on a timely basis nor were they doing them very well. There lay the lack of improvement in equipment reliability.  


In another example, suppose that you and the team have determined that having line operators do minor maintenance will help improve equipment reliability; they will make minor repairs before the problems become major. It also will help the productivity of the maintenance department by having the minor repair tasks handled by the operators, leaving the maintenance crews to work on the large, more complex ones. After the team has developed the scope of work, purchased and distributed the tools, and trained the operators in how to perform minor maintenance tasks, the work initiative is deployed. Within days, it grinds to a halt because the tools that were distributed are missing. To keep the effort moving, the project team purchases additional tools. Once again they disappear and the work initiative falls apart. Through sabotage of the process, the operations have caused it to fail before it is ever allowed to get off of the ground.  


In one more example, suppose you and your team develop a process to improve materialization of the planned work. During the training sessions, everyone agrees that this new process will vastly improve how the maintenance jobs are materialized. However, upon deployment something is obviously wrong. Although everyone appears to be going through the motions associated with the new process, the foremen and planners are still making the same number of trips to the storehouse in order to obtain job-related materials. On the surface, the process appears to be followed, but it is obvious that this is not actually the case. It is not being followed. Nothing has changed in the approach towards obtaining material for the maintenance jobs.  


These four scenarios bring up a very interesting question. Why do change initiatives developed by intelligent and caring individuals not always succeed? You may start with a good idea. But somewhere between the creation of the good idea and its actual implementation, the process gets interrupted. The change, as good as it is, fails. In this chapter, we look at why this happens and what you can do to keep change moving forward.

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