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The results of the benchmarking exercise were embarrassing. Nowhere was this more so than in the maintenance area, which was depicted as a very overstaffed and high-cost operation with low equipment reliability (although delivering respectable levels of plant availability). The first response to the benchmarking was one of denial. Many of the hard-working occupants of positions

Simplified Organization Chart

Figure 6.1 Simplified Organization Chart

in the maintenance department saw this as an attack on their personal competence and commitment to the company's performance. The results could not possibly be true. Their second reaction was fury. It was totally absurd that hard-working, committed, and competent people could be shown as poor performers. This just did not make sense. Their third reaction was to seek explanations and excuses. There must be input errors or errors in the analysis and comparison processes.

However, the results could not just be ignored. Interestingly, action was called for by personnel at all levels, from the top to the bottom of the organization. All had different motivations, but none could live with this slur; all demanded action.

What I didn't realize at the time was that the responses demonstrated by the workforce were following the classic Bereavement Curve (See Figure 6.2). This curve originated as a result of research by bereavement counselors and is usually attributed to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. Change managers soon realized that this curve also fitted the classic reactions to many traumatic events in business; it has been used extensively by consultants to track responses to significant change.

40 Chapter 6

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