Asset-Management Systems and Work Culture
Bob Williamson | October 10, 2016
Despite deployment of fewer skilled workers, I’m convinced that when asset-management systems are established, maintenance will be easier and equipment more reliable.
Improved equipment and system reliability is a function of the entire asset-management system, and all of the stakeholders, focusing on the importance of performance from the onset of the asset’s life cycle. Reliability begins in the design phase and is either enhanced, or undermined, in the subsequent life-cycle phases. Many of us have seen what could have been highly reliable equipment being installed on sub-standard foundations, started up with insufficient operating and maintenance skill sets, or supported with shoddy second-rate spare parts. The results of an otherwise reliable equipment design are high levels of unreliability.
By definition, an asset-management system must be systematic. Consistently pursuing the interdependencies of such systems to achieve business goals requires organizations to be unified and strategically focused. The challenges that many have to contend with are the silos known as departments, divisions, units, and cost centers. Asset-management systems must cut across them to address factors that put the business goals most at risk. This calls for more than a common or shared vision. Silo organizations with individual goals, standards, and stand-alone financial metrics may share a common vision, but they are, in fact, still insular in nature. The direct and obvious line of sight that connects what’s important to business goals is often lacking.
A common vision is superseded by a line of sight connecting each department’s asset-management-related metrics to the goals of the business. This line of sight defines the work culture, i.e., the individual and collective behaviors of people on the job, all focused on the big picture: the goals of our business.
While information drives business activities, it’s people who drive culture. Asset-management systems, for the most part, will represent a huge change to an organization’s business and work culture. Dealing with the matter, though, is not as simple as asking, “Which comes first, an asset-management system or culture change?“
Today’s businesses are complex organizations, the health of which can be seen in financial reports. Culture is not as obvious. More often than not, business results are an outgrowth of work culture.
The answer, as I see it, is to establish an asset-management system through a culture change to an asset-management system. Don’t laugh. There’s synergy here: These initiatives can’t be separate or sequential.
Culture change takes courage, dedication, and, most of all, visionary leadership from the top. Getting people on board means changing behaviors and habits, i.e., the way things have always been done. The first step is to answer the top questions on most minds: “Why change what we’ve been doing all these years? We’ve been successful, haven’t we? Why now?”
The Big Opportunity, as discussed by John P. Kotter in his 2014 book Accelerate (Harvard Business Review Press, Boston), opens the door to leading major culture change, emphasis on leading. In communicating The Big Opportunity, top management establishes a sense of urgency for reaching out and grabbing something bigger, better, and bolder than it can do alone.
So, what is The Big Opportunity for your organization in establishing an asset-management system that conforms to ISO-55001? Is it a trendy thing to do? Is it in response to environmental, health, and safety regulatory-compliance or insurance risks, or some type of litigation? Or is to secure long-term investments in capital assets?
Whatever your reason, a major organizational paradigm shift will be required, including a significant change in work culture.
The ISO 55000:2014 Asset Management Standard could play a major role in industry in the coming years. Keep up to date with our ongoing coverage of this Standard at efficientplantmag.com/iso55k.