Leadership is Part of Asset Management
Bob Williamson | December 20, 2016
“Leadership and commitment from all managerial levels is essential for successfully establishing, operating, and improving asset management within the organization.” (ISO 55000, 2.4.2). This statement sets the stage for leading, rather than managing, the asset-management journey. What does that mean?
Author Stephen Covey described the difference in these terms: “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”
My take is that managing is about doing things right; leading is about doing the right things. In this month’s “Uptime” column, I noted that leadership skills are required to set a new direction, inspire and motivate people to achieve new results toward a new vision, and engage them as they create new work processes. Where does leadership specifically fit in ISO 55001? Let me explain.
The Standard requires a comprehensive, organization-wide system that spans the life-cycle phases of an asset. Fundamentally, this means much more than an organization having a single departmental unit or function that focuses on the asset-management system. Every part of an organization that has anything to do with assets that produce value will play a role in the management of those assets. For most organizations, this is new strategic alignment. It also calls for leadership: “Top management shall demonstrate leadership and commitment with respect to the asset management system …” (ISO55001, 5.1 Leadership and commitment).
While top management typically focuses on “big picture” items, looking toward the future and inspiring and motivating people to achieve new results isn’t necessarily engrained in traditional management behavior. Thus, organizations face a paradigm shift as they conform to the standard. The definition of “management” is the catalyst.
Let’s recap what we know so far: Asset management is not maintenance management. True life-cycle asset management demands a major organizational culture change—something else that requires leadership.
Keep in mind that while top management may play a key role in leading people to achieve new goals, with regard to successful asset management, there’s a practical need for leaders at other critical organizational levels. Their new roles must be defined as part of an emerging asset-management system. Here are some tips for grooming leaders:
Top management must understand and demonstrate functional knowledge of asset management and the systems required to achieve the organization’s goals. Managers must also learn to lead their organization into the future of asset management.
Some managers within an organization may be ideal asset-management leaders; others struggle. As Jim Collins advised in his book Good to Great, “Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”
Successful asset management depends on leaders who have personal values that align with the organization’s vision and policy regarding these efforts and a responsibility to achieve the organization’s goals.
Note that organizational alignment, or line of sight, toward common asset-management goals is essential. In the end, the journey toward life-cycle asset management, whether it conforms with ISO 55001 or not, demands leadership habits cascading from the top of an organization down through every unit that affects asset performance and reliability.