Managers can adapt some of these same processes and tactics for their own organizations to help spread the good word about needed maintenance improvements, even though it's just not as much fun when you don't have those mysterious envelopes to mail the really good stuff. I have mellowed over time and become more confident about the value of a leading-class maintenance process. Now I just e-mail the good articles and ideas to the boss and say "Let's discuss. This stuff has a real probability of working."
The key to the change process — especially when it comes to the role of change agent — is to completely understand the new concept and process before you begin to spread the word. You must be able to explain your ideas in detail and with confidence, or you probably will get kicked out of your boss's office once again.
Begin with your research. Today, it is extremely easy to conduct thorough online searches about the topic of interest. Download everything you can get your hands on, read the materials, digest them, and put together a plan describing the way you would implement the process in your maintenance world.
Next, reach out to your peers and contacts you have met over the years attending conferences and belonging to professional organizations. If you have done a good job of networking, you should have several contacts that can assist you in building the case for your program. But even more importantly, they can keep you from making some of the same mistakes they made while trying to implement the same process in their organization.
The last thing to do is to reach out to the subject-matter experts and the writers of articles and pick their brains as much as they will allow. Most consultants who write articles also speak at conferences and conduct webinars. They are happy to assist young professionals who are truly trying to help themselves, their organizations and the profession. I assist people all the time by phone and e-mail. The people and organizations that give us heartburn are the ones who have no clue where they are now, no idea of where they want to go, and frankly, really don't care.
The goal here is to find a way to plant the seeds of change, water them regularly, add a little fertilizer — not the bull type — and nurture the process. Start small with some beta programs, build on your successes, document your performance, and be willing to change direction as needed. You will be surprised what is possible. Just be careful you don't get caught delivering mail at midnight ... unless, of course, you want to get caught.
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Michael Cowley, CPMM, — is president of CE Maintenance Solutions. Cowley provides maintenance training, coaching and consulting services to facility and manufacturing organizations nationwide. He is a frequent speaker at national facilities management conferences.
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