Asking the right questions about your metrics

One task a reliability team should do on a regular basis is sitting down to discuss the trends of any metrics or scorecards being kept on their program. Blasting out reports, and then not talking about the contents of the reports, is just a waste of time and email space. But when you get your team together to go over your metrics, asking the right questions can set the tone for the entire meeting.

There are three questions you should ask yourself, and your team, when discussing your metrics and looking at how you can evolve your maintenance and reliability programs:

  1. What did we do well?
  2. Where can we improve?
  3. What can we do different?

The way these questions are structured allow for a discussion to occur, rather than a witch hunt. When you get your team together it's too easy to start commiserating and slip into the negative side of things.

  • Our completion numbers went way down because Jim wouldn't give us that line like we wanted.
  • If the Plant Manager would have just listened to us, that bearing would't have failed at 2am on Saturday night.
  • We've told that operator a hundred times to stop running the line like that. No wonder we're over there 3 times a week.

See how easy it is to have the conversation lead to negative comments. Trust me, I've been there and made comments almost identical to the examples above. But if we use the three questions above, we can guide the conversation to something that is pro-active and positive. When using these questions in your team meeting, you reinforce the idea of a positive attitude and look for positive changes in our reliability program.

  1. What did we do well: This looks at anything that was done in a positive or correct manner. It allows the team to go over the small wins they had in the previous report period. The stress of customer service in a reliability and maintenance organization can take a toll on your team over time. Spending a few minutes to point out the small wins and what his worked can go along way to keeping the positive momentum going in your reliability evolution.
  2. Where can we improve: This is the part of the discussion where we want to make sure the path we take is a positive one. It gives the team an opportunity to look at from the small wins where can we get the next win. We want to focus the discussion on what small changes can be made and what can be done to continually get ball moving forward for our reliability program.
  3. What can we do different: This is where we can define actionable steps that can evolve the program. Again, some effort will need to be made to keep the discussion positive so that it's not dream list of things the team wants to change within the organization. Suddenly asking for production to attend a new planning and scheduling meeting three days a week, when you aren't doing any at the moment, it's not a realistic actionable item. Think of simple actions your team can take to get another set of small wins. Small actions that yield small wins you can control are the neutral game of your reliability program.

Evolving your maintenance and reliability programs is something that takes time. Shifting the nature of your discussions from the commiseration and the negative feedback loop is something that will take time as well. Work on staying positive and outcomes and actions from that positivity positivity will start to compound on each other and yield some amazing results.

See ya next time guardians!



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