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Make Realistic Goals And Stick to Them

Klaus M. Blache | February 1, 2021

Have you made 2021 reliability and maintenance resolutions? Do you have a plan to make them stick throughout the year?

Q: Will you keep your 2021 reliability and maintenance resolutions?

A: Based on 2019 data:

• 7% of survey participants stuck to all of their resolutions in 2019, while 19% kept some but not all of their resolutions
• 8% of participants failed to keep any resolutions
57% chose not to make a New Year’s resolution for 2019.
The most popular resolutions going into 2019 were to exercise more (59%), eat healthier (54%), save money (51%), and lose weight (48%).

Historically, ancient Babylonians had the earliest recorded (4,000 years ago) celebrations of New Year’s and made related resolutions. “Over the centuries, the calendar fell out of sync with the sun, and in 46 B.C. the emperor Julius Caesar decided to solve the problem by consulting with the most prominent astronomers and mathematicians of his time. He introduced the Julian calendar, which closely resembles the more modern Gregorian calendar that most countries around the world use today. As part of his reform, Caesar instituted January 1 as the first day of the year, partly to honor the month’s namesake, Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, whose two faces allowed him to look back into the past and forward into the future.”

Looking at the past and making resolutions for a better future has been with us ever since. What about some reliability and maintainability (R&M) resolutions? Based on your job it could be items such as:

• Reduce reactive maintenance.
• Take no verbal job requests.
Only perform precision maintenance.
Close out work orders and record all relevant data in the CMMS.
Use proper asset criticality to prioritize work.
Make sure parts are kitted for maintenance work orders.
Perform a PM optimization on maintenance tasks.
Plan and schedule all maintenance work.
Do a parts rationalization to remove unnecessary and obsolete parts.
Keep PM compliance at more than 95%.
Perform root-cause analysis on repeat-maintenance issues.
Perform trending based on predictive-technology results.
Use Weibull analysis to track reliability growth.
Reward persons doing proactive maintenance.
Work with operations on principles that personnel agree to follow in daily work practices.
Be sure to only put the correct amount/type of lubrication in each machine.
Review safe practices before every job.
Focus on improving the R&M system/process and not blame individuals.

Make realistic goals and stick to them. Of course, your goals should have specific values tied to them, but you get the idea. If you do, you are well under way toward a best-practice R&M process. If you don’t, some of these shortfalls won’t be critical. Collectively, too many of these poor practices will take you over the tipping point and cause your R&M process to fail.

It’s like a jigsaw puzzle in which every piece has a specific place and is linked to several other pieces. If too many pieces are missing, then there will be too many informal processes not functioning properly or formal processes that are not being followed. It’s difficult to follow a process that has an unclear big picture and so many dysfunctional parts. It’s only when all of the parts are properly in place, that the picture works and provides full clarity and value.

Why do people not follow through on their goals/resolutions? Reasons such as fear of failure or complexity of the task leave people overwhelmed or not sure where to start. Lack of immediate consequences, lack of discipline or self-control, insufficient motivation, not convinced that the effort is worth the outcome, can all contribute. It’s a lack of follow through or procrastination. In simplest terms, if the motivational influences are greater than the demotivating influences, you get action. If the demotivating influences are greater than the motivating influences, you get inaction or procrastination.

Often you know better, but still act against your better judgment.

This is actually a timeless issue. Greek philosophers used the word “akrasia” to describe this kind of behavior. Humans usually like short-term benefits and are creatures of habit (bad and good). There are lots of proposed strategies to overcome procrastination. A few that are important include simply starting (even if it’s a partial step), using a structure (set times), and making a decision now that forces the first step. For example, I’m a time-structured checklist person defining the musts and wants of what I plan to accomplish each day, based on upcoming events, deadlines, and goals. I typically do the task that is most difficult (or that I least look forward to) first. This way the day gets better right from the start after having that accomplished.

Here are two often-used quotes (authors unknown). “There are three types of people: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened,” and “People who say it cannot be done should get out of the way of those who are doing it.” Akrasia—procrastination or doing it? Decide which person you’re going to be in 2021, both personally and in your reliability and maintainability activities. EP

Based in Knoxville, Klaus M. Blache is director of the Reliability & Maintainability Center at the Univ. of Tennessee, and a research professor in the College of Engineering. Contact him at




Klaus M. Blache

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