Leadership in Maintenance Workshop Worship?
by Torbjörn Idhammar
I just returned from a few weeks in Sweden where I met with various clients and potential consulting partners. In every discussion it became clear that we at IDCON work very differently compared to other consulting firms in Europe.
In the old country, consultants tend to provide technical services or hold a workshop in order to receive results. The notion is that classroom training or a workshop can solve all problems. I think it is important to hold workshops, but the workshops must be combined with on-the-job training and execution in the field.
For example, if our organization doesn’t plan and schedule well, do we solve it by holding a workshop? If we want to improve reliability, will a workshop do the job?
I run into the same “workshop worship” in other parts of the world as well. It seems some organizations think that workshops and 2-day training seminars automatically transfer into improvements in the plant.
I think we have to go back and understand how people learn and how we change. It makes me think about a Chinese proverb that goes like this:
“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
I am convinced that a workshop is a great tool for beginning an improvement process, but I also believe that 90 percent of all workshop knowledge is a waste of time, because it’s never used. I believe this to be especially true in the maintenance and reliability field since maintenance improvements are mostly about changing behaviors, and training sessions and workshops alone does not change behaviors.
Christer Idhammar, our founder and guru, used the Chinese proverb when we developed our training concept that involves more than just classroom sessions.
We start by educating in class format or through discussions with the client [hearing], then we go into the field and show the client how to execute the theoretical concept [seeing] and finish up by letting the client show us what he or she has learned with our hands-on support (doing).
If we take a weekly planning meeting as an example, we start by teaching the concept in a classroom setting. Together with the operations and maintenance teams we decide, where and how to hold these meetings. After that, our IDCON consultant leads the meeting to show the client how a good meeting should be executed. Lastly, the client practices holding a few planning and scheduling meetings with IDCON available as a coach and trainer in the background.
The two biggest objections I get regarding this concept are:
- Isn’t coaching the responsibility of management?
- Doesn’t the consultant/workshop instructor take over ownership?
Isn’t this the responsibility of the top management? Yes, it is the responsibility of management to implement the right work systems. Some managers don’t have the skills to train the people. Most managers don’t have time to educate and train every planner, supervisor, and operations coordinator. So I believe you need a consultant or internal resource to coach and train the organization to achieve change.
Doesn’t the consultant/workshop instructor take over, then? With the “wrong” consultant this might pose a danger, so it’s important that members of top management are in charge of setting goals and leading the effort. My advice is to make sure the consultant/ internal trainer doesn’t spend more than 50 percent of their time in each area to ensure the plant takes ownership.
Also feel free to discuss this topic and others online at LinkedIN. Search for “IDCON’s discussion forum”
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