Organizational Opportunities from the Frontline Story 13: Reactive vs. Proactive | Operational Excellence Quick Hits
Quick Hits share weekly tips and techniques on topics related to Operational Excellence. This week’s theme relates to organizational culture and sustainability. We hope you enjoy the information presented!
In today’s session, we’re going to continue on the series of organizational opportunities, stories and lessons learned from the front lines. Today’s story comes to us from a manufacturing company. And the company was dealing with a lot of production pressures to meet the customer demand. And so for a maintenance perspective, there wasn’t sufficient time to do proper provider maintenance on the equipment and the mode operation was really running the equipment to failure, and then reacting to the equipment breakdown. So, maintenance was constantly reacting to problems going out. And of course, with the production pressures, they couldn’t put permanent solutions in place, so they’d put bandaid solutions, and of course, those bandaid solutions would only last for a short period of time, and then breakdown again. So, they’re constantly chasing breakdowns. So, how did we switch from the reactive mode of operations or maintenance that they’re doing to a proactive mode of operations for maintenance?
So, that’s what our session’s about today. So, first of all, let’s talk about problem solving. So, if I had to classify what companies are most terrible at is problem solving. So, they don’t know how to systematically go through and solve problems. So, when that happens, we spend a lot of time dealing with the same issues over and over and over. I call it like Groundhogs Day, right? It’s the same day over and over and over. Benjamin Franklin said that an ounce prevention is worth a pound of cure. So, a lot of times, I ask my clients, “What did he mean by that?” And so what I think he meant by that is, if we look at how many ounces in a pound, there’s 16 ounces. So, he’s saying it’s 16X more effective to prevent problems than to deal with them after the problem happens. So, X in this case can be effort, it can be time, it can be cost.
However you define X defines how much time you’re spending or money you’re spending or effort you’re spending dealing with problems after they happen instead of preventing them in the first place. And of course, if it is 16X, just think about how much time is freed up by switching from a reactive mode to a proactive mode. We got to get out of that reactive mode of dealing with breakdowns and maintenance issues. So, first of all, we need to establish the correct mindset for change. So, we have to recalibrate everybody’s mindset. And there’s certain steps here that we need to understand. So first, it’s conscious awareness. So, what is conscious awareness? It’s a state of being aware of what’s happening in your environment. So, of course, they’re in the fire every day dealing with problems, and they can’t step back and say, why are these things happening?
So, first of all, we got to explain to them about what’s happening in their environment and why it’s happening. And break out of that mindset of, yes, it’s the same thing over and over. We need to change our mindset and break out of that thinking. And then they’re in the reactive attitude of dealing with issues after they occur. Now, we need to shift the perspective. So, shift in perspective requires us to think differently or do something differently to our situation or environment and to look at our current situation from a different perspective. So, then we need a change in paradigm, so a fundamental approach and the underlying assumptions of why we’re in this mode of operation. And then switch to the proactive attitude where we’re preventing issues before they occur.
So, when we look at conscious awareness, regardless of the type of issues we’re facing, we must be excellent in cause and effect thinking. So, what does that mean? So, what is an effect? So, an effect is the outcome or result of consequences of action. So, breakdown maintenance, we react to it, we go out, we fix the issue, and then we go put the permanent solution in place. We just bandaid it. And then of course, three weeks later, we’re going back out and fixing the same problem. They were dealing with the effects of or execution of their maintenance system. So, what’s a cause? So, something that brings about the effect of results. So, of course, that reactive mode brings about the effect of constantly chasing problems. What’s the root cause? It’s the initiating cause or condition or causal chain that leads to the outcome or effect of interest.
So, we need to get to the root cause. When we can fix the root cause, then all the effects go away. So, in this case, when we look at problem solving, one of the issues that we saw is that all the breakdowns got the same level of attention. So, all problems were created equal. So, we need to look at what’s the effect of that. So, of course we want to strive to ensure that the processes are highly reliable, so the equipment is reliable and it doesn’t break down. So, we take actions to deal with problems in a timely manner. And then what happens is maintenance doesn’t have a sufficient time to do the proper analysis on the problems, and then maintenance is overwhelmed with dealing with issues. Then there are many tasks that demand maintenance’s time. Then they spend more time on non-value added activities, reacting to problems and not solving problems.
And this translates into increased costs due to production disruption. So, they had to be expediting more over time and so forth, and increased repair costs. So, the longer we wait to fix something, more damage gets done and repair costs actually increase. And the mindset that was causing all this is that all breakdowns are treated with the same level of priority. So, we got to break out of this negative loop and change the mindset and create a positive loop. So, one of the things we did is we started to look at each issue, each breakdown in terms of their risk on the system. So, what does that mean? So, not all problems are created equal. So, when we have a breakdown, what gets highest priority? So, we need to take each failure and rank that in terms of what’s the severity of the failure effect? What’s the occurrence? So, how likely is that to occur? And then are we able to detect that or not?
So, if we look at risk in terms of these three indicators, severity, occurrence, and detection, we can actually evaluate each failure mode and put a risk priority number to it and start ranking the maintenance breakdowns in terms of priority. So, then once the team has completed initial identification of the failure modes, effects, causes and controls, including the rankings and severity of currency detection, they need to decide how to further reduce the risk. And of course, due inherent limitations of resources, time, technology, and other factors, resources must choose best how to prioritize their efforts. And priority has more emphasis on severity first, then occurrence, and then detection. So, we actually create a priority system for maintenance based on production priorities and where the risks are in the system and started to focus maintenance on this is the highest risk, we need to fix this issue. Of course, under theory constraints, the first priority is the constraint operation, so we look at the constraint operation. If there’s downtime on that, that’s the highest priority.
Second priority becomes the resource that is most likely to endanger starving the constraint. So, now we can systematically go through and start prioritizing where maintenance should focus their time. And instead of just putting bandaid solutions, we got to put the permanent solutions in place so the problem doesn’t reoccur. Now, we can start freeing up maintenance time to do more proactive things. So, this proactive mindset that we need to put in place is that the problems that the company is based on the risk to the organization. And so our objective stays the same, that we strive to ensure high process reliability. Now, our mindset is breakdowns our priorities based on the risk to the organization. So, the action is the problems with the highest risk are prioritized. Then the desired effect is maintenance is given the time to properly deal with problems. So, we don’t deal with all problems. We deal with the highest risk ones. We spend the time management gives the commitment to do the root cause analysis, get to the root cause, put the permanent countermeasures in place so that problem doesn’t come back.
Then maintenance permanently solves the problems, there are fewer demands on maintenance time, maintenance spends more time on valued added activities like prevention, repair costs are reduced, and production output increases because their disruptions are significantly reduced. So, this is how we switched from the reactive mindset to the proactive mindset, and it becomes like a snowball rolling downhill. It starts out sort of small and slow, but as you get more and more root cause solutions in place, it starts to pick up momentum and speed. So, the size of the snowball gets bigger and the speed of the snowball gets bigger, which creates more impact for the organization. So, that’s our session for today. Connect with me on LinkedIn, visit our website, go to our YouTube channel where we have lots of videos on different concepts of mind shift change.