Univ. of Tennessee Reliability and Maintainability Center (RMC)
TO DEVELOP AND maintain a competitive position in any industry requires the ability to implement change and gain and maintain workforce support along the way. How well an organization accepts changes in daily practices is critical to continuous improvement and ongoing success. The Gleicher-Beckhard-Harris Change Equation [Beckhard, R., & Harris, R.T., 1977 (1st edition), 1987 (2nd edition). Organizational Transitions: Managing Complex Change, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing] is a simple equation/methodology to ascertain the potential of successful change at your workplace. The equation shows that, if change is to occur:
D x V x F > RwhereD = Dissatisfaction with the current state (focus of change)V = Vision of the future stateF = First step toward an achievable and believable vision
The product of D x V x F must be greater than R (current Resistance to change by persons required for successful implementation.)
This change formula is a simple, powerful way to portray what is needed to bring about change. The model also implies that each of the elements (Dissatisfaction, Vision, and First step) are equal in importance. While each situation varies, it’s important that all three elements be addressed.
Dissatisfaction with the status quo can be such things as poor working conditions, unsafe practices, low pay, losing business to competitors, lack of functioning teams, and trust. The future vision must be clear and believable, enough so that people feel that, if it’s implemented, their current situation will be better.
Part of this is having a believable first step. Depending on the final objective, it can be as basic as giving persons more daily control of their workplace, buying new technologies needed by trades, putting processes in place to support the change, or allocating the funds and time needed.
Be sure to include the necessary “big picture” items in your initiative. Everyone needs to clearly understand their roles and responsibilities, but also share a common goal of the organization that they can delineate.
To be successful, a reliability engineer must become an agent of change. In regard to reliability and maintenance (R&M), a change agent is a person who encourages/influences other people to change their views and behaviors toward best-practice R&M processes and daily related actions.
Many good ideas fail because of the lack of proper change management. Changing attitudes is one of the greatest challenges. From my experience, people don’t so much resist the change itself; it’s more about how they perceive it will ultimately affect their life at work and at home.
Based in Knoxville, Klaus M. Blache is director of the Reliability & Maintainability Center at the Univ. of Tennessee, and a research professor in the College of Engineering. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.