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June 29, 2008

Take the easy money first...

I work in the area of reliability engineering. That means I help really big companies to make more money (Safely) from their physical assets. trains, process plants, water and electricity, mines and warships.. any industry where there there are lost of equipment - that cost a lot of money to run.

In my industry I regularly see some things that are extremely foolish. One of these is to focus on critical assets. These are assets that represent the companies most important equipment.

The problem is that "critical assets" are actually working well. They're critical after all, they get a lot of attention, a lot of money and a lot of resources if something goes wrong. And it rarely goes wrong.

Instead - I focus explicitly on "bad actors". These are the worst performing assets. Why? Obvious. Because they yield almost immediate benefits which are cashable.

Nothing gets the attention of senior management like increased revenue, reduced costs, and a direct impact on the companies P&L.

This is an attitude I take with me everywhere, regardless of the engagement, and regardless of the industry sector.

Fix problems, don't waste time making good things better!

I think this is the essence of the whole "blue ocean thinking", and the essence of modern capitalism. Find a need, fill a need (from Robots). If you fix a problem the value is obvious, if you make good things better then the value is marginal if at all.

I have seen my colleagues going into the VP's office to tell him "You know that very important asset you have that was working well? You'll be happy to know it is going to continue working well"

And he replies??? Yup.. thanks... theres the door.

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