Getting to the End Goal: I Like Metaphors

This one is about running.  I find it a pretty good metaphor for reliability work, and I’m all about the metaphors. I’m still a novice, and I’m looking to achieve new distances right now. This involves me following a training plan with set mileage and gradual improvements towards an end goal. This past weekend I finished the Chilly Half Marathon in Burlington, with a dramatic improvement in my time.

This one is also about discouragement.  Bumping up against my perceived limitations and realizing I’m going to have to change something, going to have to get a little uncomfortable. I haven’t been logging the splits I wanted to meet my Around the Bay goal (see my 2016 goals here).  Getting distracted by pace is discouraging if the end goal is distance.  It’s helped me to look at where I was and how far I’ve come, but even that doesn’t always work.  Similarly, reliability work can mean taking the long route to get to the end goal.  It helps to have that end goal clear in sight, and a plan to get there.  It can also be hard to keep going when you don’t really know what the end goal looks like (a complete, perfect maintenance program? Reduced budget? Reduced risk? Engagement of others to build a foundation?).  Uncharted territory means a few stumbles and wrong turns and detours.

This one is about persevering and prevailing. Not to be the best that ever was (though certainly that’s a laudable accomplishment), but to be the better than you were.  Better than you used to be. So you can accomplish things quicker, more surely, than in the past.  Figuring out what the end goal feels like, not having it be a sentence or line item.  This could be developing rapport with a colleague as you work through a project together.  Or it could be nailing a maintenance strategy for a piece of equipment, and knowing what to do next time.  My run last weekend felt like victory to me for these reasons.

And this one is about getting comfortable again fast, so you can conquer the next goal or project.  Always learning, getting steady with your feet under you, and using that new base of experience to do more.

Either way, I’m learning a lot.

How about you?  Any favourite metaphors for reliability?

Respect Your Elders

This is part public service announcement.  Part reminder.

Respect your elders. “Elders” are those with much more experience than us.  They’ve built that plant from the ground up and watched it fail, then built it back up again.  They have lived the things I can only theorize about.

Lately, people seem to be in more of a rush than usual to get to the point and move on.  I’m here to remind us all that not only is it rude, it’s counter-productive. And I find it fascinating to learn the history of the place where I get to work.

So next time the person who came up with a now-accepted equation or methodology or repair plan wants to tell us how it came about, maybe we should pull up a chair and get comfortable.  Because they created it out of nothing, from their smarts and experience.  It’s obvious or logical now because they made it that way.  Settle in and learn something from the greats.  We can spare the time.