We recently released an article describing how our Bluefield Transformation process can help sites bring about long-lasting change in their business. Over time, we’ve learned that success in these projects isn’t guaranteed, but the value they create is more than worth the effort.
We asked some our most experienced practitioners the following question:
In your experience, what value can a Transformation deliver to a maintenance team? What does it take for a Transformation to be successful?
The transformation can deliver best practice availability results but more importantly it can deliver a team of people who are proud of the work they do and feel great to be part of a successful team.
In order to achieve a successful outcome from a transformation takes real leadership who care about the equipment condition and recognise those who look after it but equally hold those who don't to account for lifting their standards.
The part that leaders find most difficult is raising the problems in a positive manner which builds team commitment not a negative blaming voice the breaks the team apart. This leadership is hard to teach but it can be learnt.
I'm part way through a book called "Switch - how to change things when change is hard". From what I’ve read, it is pretty relevant to Transformations. People often work with an Analyse-Think-Change approach which is fine when the problem is not complex.
Transformations where problems can overwhelm require a different approach to get the required outcome is required. They recommend a See-Feel-Change approach, which is why I think activities like the defect challenge prove to be successful in this application.
Peter talks about one of the keys to success – knowing when to reach out for help – in this article.
The word Transformation suggests a fast chameleon style change in appearance. While the Bluefield process is intended to be as swift as possible, the term ‘hasten slowly’ with cultural change means it is more likely to become the way a team works, in a sustained fashion, rather than a burst of energy which soon peters out after the initial contact.
In some ways a Transformation is, to all who attend the sessions, an expose’ of a department. It spotlights gaps in process, communications, internal and external relationships, people effort, knowledge and skills, resource requirements and department myths.
Often those in reactive departments are not fully aware of these as they do not have the luxury of stepping back and seeing the holistic picture. A transformation provides this and allows them involvement, their say, and a chance to put their improvement ideas into practice. It presents an opportunity for those things to be prioritised, overcome or improved, by actions and agreements on implementing a slightly different way of work to get better outcomes.
If done well, it allows a department to become in control of their business and provides boundaries for people to successfully work in. While less exciting and rewarding than reactive work, a goal of a transformation is to promote structure and standardisation. This is through a focus on doing basic maintenance tasks to a high standard and everyone in the department doing their job properly. This reduces employee frustration, disconnection and brings back a sense of team where people can mostly rely on each other to do the right thing while achieving their goals (winning, praise, safety, and meeting equipment / department metrics).
From an influence perspective, the internal control then allows a maintenance department to challenge their customers (e.g. Operations) to attain the same high standards.
Mostly, the assessment portion of a Transformation finds a lot of individual energy being expended, but gaps in processes mean the energy is not fully effective. The actions and agreement outcomes, provide mutually accountable ways for all personnel in the team to work and expect their team mates to work.
What does it take for a Transformation to be successful?
Key site stakeholder engagement and understanding of the BF process
The ability of those key personnel (e.g. Maintenance Manager, GM) to set context, heavily involve themselves, yet mostly remain a listener when others are proving frank and honest feedback.
Evidence and data
Some site embarrassment (ADKAR)
The BF team creating respectful relationships with all levels of the team so people trust them, people can open up and they get a positive sense things will improve.
Getting on the ground with maintainers – walking in their shoes / go and see
Session facilitators challenging the status quo
Using fact/data/process to dispel myths
Post session implementation and governance – (rarely done well from a BF or Client perspective)
Thomo describes one of the key techniques in a Transformation – the “defect challenge” – in this article.