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I was recently listening to a radio interview of the great Frank Oz. You may recall that Oz is the master puppeteer and voice behind such iconic Muppets and Sesame Street characters as Miss Piggie, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Cookie Monster, Grover, and Bert, as well as Yoda from Star Wars.

Over the years, Oz’s commitment to bringing his characters to life has resulted in phenominal success for their respective shows/brands. Asked about the attributes needed to deliver such sustainable, seamless, organic performances, he emphasized the value of teamwork, planning, preparation, and persistence. To demonstrate, Oz described his experience in bringing Yoda to life. Each and every line of dialogue spoken by Yoda required the collective effort of four puppeteers working as a team after three days of meticulous planning and preparation prior to filming.

Think about speeches from award-winning entertainers, superbowl coaches and quarterbacks, race-car drivers, and/or corporate leaders as they celebrate their achievements. They almost always attribute their successes to teamwork, planning, preparation, and persistence.

Winning teams and organizations have a common trait: They deliver sustained performance in a seamless, organic manner. In other words, they make “it” look easy. They are the benchmark to which others aspire. Their behavior patterns, processes, procedures, and methods become the “best practice” playbook that sets the standard and model for excellence in their respective fields.

Excellence, however, can be deceiving. All champions of excellence will agree that making something look easy and second nature is a product of hard work and a continued commitment to continuous improvement. So how is this achieved?

Achieving excellence in any field begins by taking a hard look at oneself and answering two basic questions: What is my current state? What is my preferred future state?

Current-state analysis means taking stock of your current strengths that can be capitalized on, as well as the areas where you lack strength, which become your opportunities for change. Future state is determined by examining the best practices employed by known champions in your field and making a commitment to take on the work necessary to adopt and achieve those best practices.

The answers to those two questions allow you to perform a gap analysis between the two states. From that, a management action plan, or MAP for change can be drawn up. Adopting any behavioral change requires a paradigm shift to take place in both thought and actions, along with time, and commitment, to plan and execute. Typically, organizational change at this level can be an 18-month to 3-year journey for a best practice to become organic and a corporate, department, and individual “state of mind.”

In the world of maintenance excellence, consider the department that confers with its clients and stakeholders on a regular basis, proactively providing activity reports and asset availability in the high 90th percentile. This type of team carefully plans and schedules all of its own work and that of any outside entity with which it contracts. It stages all of its parts in a timely manner. It turns up to job sites on time, performs work in a professional, timely manner, and leaves each job site clean and tidy before handing the asset back to the client.

Best practice is a state of mind. To achieve it, individuals must act and think like a team. You must prepare by developing both strategic and operational plans, processes, and standardized procedures. You must be persistent. And, in the words of Yoda, you must “always pass on what you have learned.”TRR


Ken Bannister has 40+ years of experience in the RAM industry. For the past 30, he’s been a Managing Partner and Principal Asset Management Consultant with Engtech industries Inc., where he has specialized in helping clients implement best-practice asset-management programs worldwide. A founding member and past director of the Plant Engineering and Maintenance Association of Canada, he is the author of several books, including three on lubrication, one on predictive maintenance, and one on energy reduction strategies, and is currently writing one on planning and scheduling. Contact him directly at 519-469-9173 or kbannister@theramreview.com.

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