A License to Steal the Next Big Idea
Maintenance and engineering managers are prideful. They have built their reputations on resourcefulness and take pride in doing their jobs amidst declining budgets and thinly stretched staffs.
Despite the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a task against all odds, managers should remember that stealing an idea is not frowned upon in the profession. In fact, thievery often is encouraged.
This is an important point for managers to keep in mind as the profession evolves. Energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives have forced managers and their staffs to think beyond the traditional methods of maintenance and engineering management. In doing so, managers in all types of facilities are reinventing the wheel.
But managers traditionally have not been comfortable with this approach. Instead, they more often look to technologies and strategies with proven track records.
Some managers — whether due to the type of organization, staff size, or budget — can afford to experiment with technologies and strategies not widely used among their peers. Managers without that same level of resources only can step back and learn from what outlying organizations have done. Eventually, they can apply those lessons to their facilities.
"I'm the kind of person where if someone else is doing something well, you need to figure out why they're doing it," one facility professional told me recently while discussing energy-efficiency initiatives. "And if it makes sense for you, you steal the idea, and you use it."
While stealing typically carries a negative connotation, both the "victim" and the "perpetrator" benefit from the above scenario. One manager can take pride in developing an idea his peers want to adopt. And the other can show top management the benefits the new idea can bring to the bottom line.
Chris Matt offers insights gleaned from conversations with managers who make key maintenance and engineering decisions in commercial and institutional facilities.
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