Raising the level of your leadership




You Get What You Measure (?)


Red oilerJohn, Maintenance Supervisor: Our machine downtime has increased again. We are tracking it every day, but it just doesn’t seem to get better. The machine shop manager is really ticked off and blaming us for missing his production targets.

Jerry, Manufacturing Manager: What do you mean by “tracking it every day”?

John: We talk to every machine operator on every shift to get an exact record of how much the machine was down for repair. I’ve always heard that you get what you measure, but measuring downtime isn’t helping.

Jerry: Do you track how often you are doing the required preventative maintenance on each machine?

John: We log it in when we do it, but frankly, we are spending so much time repairing machines that we run behind on maintenance.

Jerry: How often do you get the oil on your car changed?

John: Every 5000 miles—exactly what the specs require. I don’t want to blow an engine because old oil isn’t doing its job.

Jerry: Why don’t you try taking care of the machines the same way you care for your car. Lubricate when you are supposed to. Calibrate when you are supposed to. Sharpen drill bits when you are supposed to. Would that make a difference in machine downtime?

John: I’m sure it would help.

Jerry: Let’s do this. For the next month, don’t track downtime at all and don’t bring me any downtime reports. Instead keep track of maintenance actions and bring me a report on that. Then after a month or two, we’ll take a look at downtime to see if it is getting better.

Two months later, John: The machine shop manager called to let me know that his machines are working much better and downtime is down. He is really happy.

Jerry: John, a hard lesson we all have to learn is that “you get what you measure only if you measure the right things.” You don’t track downtime on your car; you track oil change intervals. Nobody ever loses weight by weighing everyday. You lose weight by tracking exercise and calorie intake. You don’t reduce debt by keeping track of your debt; you reduce debt by keeping track of your spending. If you want to get the weeds out of your yard, you can’t do it by counting the weeds. You do it by applying weed killer at the proper time, or digging them up by hand. Tell your team that I am really pleased with their effort the last couple of months; just keep tracking maintenance and downtime will take care of itself.

Is there something in your life or organization you want to change? Change what you measure and track if you really want different results.

Do you have any “you get what you measure” stories? Share them in the comment section.

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© Copyright 2014 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company

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