Maintenance and engineering departments are working hard to maintain facilities and equipment with a workload that is about twice the size it should be.
Given this uphill climb, how can managers begin the change process, with the goals of easing the workload and streamlining the process? How can you get old dogs to learn new tricks? I'm sorry if I step on any old toes, but often, an organization's top management is the toughest group to get involved in any change process of this kind.
Once, I was part of a large group of engineering and maintenance professionals who constantly read maintenance magazines, attended maintenance-related conferences, and read white papers about maintenance-improvement programs and the elusive concept of world-class maintenance.
We quickly realized that achieving success in this profession is all about selling your ideas to upper management. We eventually adopted a strategy that came about many years ago when I worked for Burlington Industries — at the time the largest textile manufacturing company in the world.
In the maintenance and engineering department, we always struggled to convince upper management to consider implementing and trying some of the wonderful methods we had in mind — methods to improve and modify the old-school culture of maintenance from 100 percent reactive work into a proactive culture rooted in a strong preventive maintenance attitude and world-class maintenance.
The strategy we came up with uses a term coined by a friend, Pete Little, who worked on our corporate engineering/maintenance staff. Pete said, "If you can't get the management support for improvement programs, you should initiate the Midnight Bulletin Board." Initially, we thought the bulletin board strategy was something illegal. As it turned out, it involved finding proactive articles, graphs, and metrics that described the proposed maintenance-improvement programs — ones that described in detail how to pull it off, as well as explaining the expected results. They key step was to leave these materials on the skeptical manager's desk or under his office door at night or, if brave enough, tack them to the shop's bulletin board.
Managers Must Spread Message of Needed Maintenance Products
Shop Bulletin Board Interesting Place to Plant Seeds of Support
Making Change Happen not Always Easy