From Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: “Steel can be any shape you want if you are skilled enough, and any shape but the one you want if you are not.”
Any skilled mechanic knows that regular maintenance is necessary to keep machinery in operating condition. Organizations face a similar challenge. If an organization is to function as expected, maintenance is necessary. As important as maintenance is, it doesn’t alter the thing being maintained. It keeps it at status quo.
In this segment, we will look at a prevention profile that is beyond “fixing” and moving into the category of “maintaining”. By understanding the characteristics associated with the profile levels you to determine what you might do to improve beyond the current profile.
Part 2: When you are “Maintaining” correctly, some people will wonder if you are doing anything
An organization in this profile category places emphasis on regular prevention. Keeping things running as they were originally developed may go unnoticed by some.
Work is well defined and procedures are in place
In the “Maintenance” profile, the work requirements have been defined and work instructions are clear and up-to-date. Processes are regularly updated. The customer is frequently contacted regarding the work and their satisfaction with it.
Measurement focuses on the customer
Routine tracking of customer complaints is in place. There may be a list of the “biggest problems” keeping everyone aware of what needs attention on a recurring basis. There is communication about what is going well, and what could be better. It may be communicated that a few errors are tolerable.
Training is done early and often
Job training takes the form of on-the-job training and is reinforced on a regular basis. Performance is regarded as craftsmanship and learning from a senior worker is common. It is generally accepted that some folks just do the work better than others.
Management listens about problems
Routine management meetings will cover the quality of work and problems that may exist in the system. If problems are known, management will direct that they be taken care of. Management may or may not follow up once the decision to fix the problem is made.
Problems occur infrequent
Thanks to clear requirements, proper training and management attention to things that may go wrong, problems are infrequent. When problems do occur adjustments in work processes are made in an attempt to find a way to avoid the problem in the future. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it creates a new problem down the road.
Organizations that operate at the “Maintenance” profile can honestly say that some things are getting better and some things are getting worse.
Management deals with problems in a fashion reminiscent of the game of “whack-a-mole”. When a problem pops up, attention and effort are brought to bear, and “whack” the problem is dealt with. Unfortunately, a different type of problem may rear its head in the near future.
In our next segment we will look at the last stage in the Profile which is “Prevention”.
(Note: The pioneering work of Philip B. Crosby is the basis for the Prevention Profile.)