MRO Magazine

Failure to plan is planning to fail


February 27, 2012
By PEM Magazine

Did you begin the New Year with  resolutions? While at home you probably want to loose weight, exercise more, eat healthy, clean out the attic, etc. — at work, did you resolve to finally get those improvement initiatives off the ground and start showing results? Have you had any success yet? If not, ask yourself, “Why?” Go deep; don’t stop by blaming people and things you don’t control.

Like it or not, you were a part of that failure. What did you miss? What did you do? What did you not do? At home, it’s easy to take the blame — no one else knows anyway. But at work, you can’t get away with that. Those resolutions you made are like projects you’ve started and allowed to sputter to a halt.

Common reasons include lack of budget, lack of management support, lack of buy-in from the shop floor, poor project management, unrealistic expectations and the list goes on. Each of those is avoidable with the right preparation and execution of your initiatives.

Your improvement project doesn’t begin when you get the go-ahead from your boss. It begins at the conceptual stage when the need or requirement is identified. You know that planning works to ensure successful implementation of maintenance work. Extend that thinking to your project.


Right from the very start you have the opportunities to set the stage for success — secure the buy-in, find the project sponsors, identify the real extent of resources and time you will need, dig for enough information to have a realistic budget, avoid the temptation to understate costs and overstate benefits, put a realistic plan in place, etc. As in good work management, failure to plan is planning to fail.

We all know we should do this, yet many of us don’t follow through. It is like knowing exercise is good for our health and not exercising. It takes more than an intellectual awareness to motivate us. We need to “own” the need and the actions that follow — or the choice becomes a choice to fail. When we get into trouble with our projects, it’s like discovering too late we have some incurable yet avoidable disease.

The long-term benefits to your company from your project, like the long-term health benefits from exercising, need to be compelling enough to you now to justify the efforts required to ensure success. They need repetition and constant “selling” to everyone involved or they will lose sight of the goal. Stay engaged and keep everyone involved engaged and informed as well. Without it, you will lose resolve and fail. With it, you can choose success.

2012 holds a lot of promise for those who choose to see it — will you see it, too?

James Reyes-Picknell of Barrie, Ont.’s Conscious Asset Management is a certified management consultant specializing in operations excellence and asset management. You can reach him at