Don't Just Fix It, Improve It! A Journey to the Precision Domain

 
9780982516317: Don't Just Fix It, Improve It! A Journey to the Precision Domain

In this first installment of the Heroic Change series, James Emery is struggling with balancing his various roles as husband, father, and plant manager for Modern Products Manufacturing. When an accident occurs at the plant, leaving people seriously injured, James feels responsible. He is faced with his own inner demons as the incident brings back memories of a devastating accident that haunts his past.

The accident is the impetuous to drastic changes in both James’ personal life and also his career. He embarks on a difficult journey of Heroic Change, likening the journey to the Holmes poem he admires in which the chambered nautilus, in its silent toil as the spiral grows, leaves the past for the new.

James faces a long road of mistakes and missteps while facing opposition from his subordinates and pressure from his superiors. In his relentless pursuit to create lasting change, James gathers allies by building a shadow network of employees who support his plan for change. James fights to gain respect for his out of the box thinking, while trying to hold his family together as he spends long hours at work. More importantly, he fights to create a safe place for employees to work while satisfying his superiors with improved performance.

James’ struggle is not unlike the mysterious life and death of the nautilus. He uses the nautilus, as well as a shield, as symbols to provide him with inspiration for his own life and spiritual growth as he travels the path to lasting Heroic Change.

Don't Just Fix It, Improve It is a very easy read because it is told as a story. It is also a good reminder of why you can't just focus on planning and scheduling. The really good performers eliminate the defects before they ever turn into work orders. Small problems are seldom left to turn into big failures and big problems rarely happen. The authors hit the nail on the head when they demonstrate through the story that improvement efforts which simply focus on driving the right maintenance work practices bog the organization down with too much work and seldom succeed. Only after building in the defect elimination culture and reducing the defects coming into the system can the organization achieve the best practice benchmarks. The small problems don't clog the CMMS system and the work processes can focus on the big issues. Small problems are taken care of immediately at the source.

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Review:

The authors begin with a plant that is performing poorly and under extreme pressure to improve. The VP of Manufacturing organizes staff meetings in which the plant managers must sit according to his or her plant performance ratings. Much to the chagrin of James, the new plant manager and the protagonist of the story, sits in the next to last seat. His costs are significantly above budget, utilization is below budget, safety performance is below par, and of course, the plant is losing serious money. James has great ideas on how to improve the plant performance and how to achieve key goals. Unfortunately, on top of his improvement plans, he is also being directed to install a new maintenance management system, including using a very expensive consulting company, and to apply RCM principles to all the equipment. To top it off, the plant is very reactive, so hardly a day passes that his plans are not disrupted. And to make matters worse, he is directed to reduce costs substantially in a single year. How is he going to cut costs while implementing the maintenance management system? How is he going to manage all the competing initiatives? Then, in the middle of it all, two of his employees are seriously injured. James works tirelessly to balance all the issues, but soon finds that the number of defects (problems and failures) outstrips even his high energy level, not to mention creating a myriad of problems at home. He soon notices that the number of defects coming into the maintenance management system simply overwhelms the systems ability to cope; and that the RCM studies often end up being books on a shelf because of the amount of reactive work that is required. With the help of a mentor he finally gets his priorities straight, and challenges his boss to give him leeway on the initiatives. His boss agrees, but with one condition. He must deliver results. He begins engaging the workforce in defect elimination, and creates ownership by allowing the front line workers to choose the defects that are most important to them and that most affect their daily work. After the defects have been reduced to a manageable level, he successfully implements the maintenance management system. With that very basic approach, in just one year, James turns the plant around from the second worse performance, to the second best.

While the book does include a commercial appeal in places, I encourage you to forgive that and take seriously the greater lesson in the book, which is nothing is worse than doing something more efficiently that you shouldn’t be doing in the first place. Engage all your employees in eliminating the defects that cause the failures, and you won’t spend money fixing the failures, losing production, and injuring people. The book is an easy read, and provides an excellent model for this approach.

--Ron Moore, Author of What Tools? When? Selecting the Right Manufacturing Improvement Tools

A friend thought I might enjoy reading Heroic Change. I decided to look at the book over the weekend, thinking I might get through a few chapters. Ends up I couldn’t put it down. My wife even commented -, “You never stay attached to a book for such a long time, what s up?” The story goes through the events of a plant manager, James, who has to save his plant from demise. Facing safety, as well as production lows and cost cuts; he and his former boss and friend, Chance, create a plan for success. Chance, now at the corporate office, once managed the highest performance facility for the company. If you are in any way part of an improvement process, you can easily relate to what James and Chance were facing. Chance introduces James to the Heroic Journey concept, where many trials must be overcome in order to reach the final goal. My favorite analogy is the example of how The Wizard of Oz was a Heroic Journey. Although not overly exploited in the book, it turns out similar to The Wizard of Oz, as James had everything he needed all along. He needed to take the journey in order to reach his goal, while not getting distracted by the means and consequences. Overall, this is the first book I've read which provides true value to reliability improvements, and is also very entertaining. Hopefully the authors will continue the series.

--David A. Martin, CMRP, and Maintenance CoordinatorThe book is fantastic. An easy read that everyone can relate to and get value from. –

The book is fantastic. An easy read that everyone can relate to and get value from. –

--Kenneth Latino, Reliability Champion at Meadwestvaco PRG Mill in Covington, VA

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