When I started work as a Shift Manager (Brewing), it was an unwritten rule that when a Maintenance Engineer tells you a task will take 1 hour, double it. If you plan with 1 hour, you will be disappointed. If you plan with 2 hours, you will most likely be okay.
However, this did not stop Process Owners from holding Maintenance Engineers to their 1 hour and giving them the full length of their tongue.

The Maintenance Engineers were optimistic, Process Owners were pessimistic.

Maintenance Engineers then got scared of giving any time commitments to Process Owners. Their favourite reply to, “How long will the task take?”, became, “I don’t know, until I open the machine up.”
Really funny, because the optimists were now conditioned to play safe and preserve their sanity.
This frustrated Process Owners and made them jettison any stops for planned maintenance. Breakdown maintenance prevailed.

Then the Process Owners and Maintenance Engineers realised that breakdown maintenance was expensive, unpredictable, mutually draining and counterproductive. Without meeting, they decided to pursue planned maintenance again, this time unwittingly changing roles.

Now, when a task is to be done, if the Maintenance Engineers tell you 2 hours, halve it. If you plan with 2 hours you will be naively impressed, but if you stand with the Maintenance Engineers during the task, you will come to see that a very healthy buffer (margin of safety) has been built in.

The Maintenance Engineers are now pessimistic and Process Owners optimistic.

The pendulum will swing again, as Process Owners challenge and shrink the buffer, that Maintenance Engineers include in task completion time.

– Osasu Oviawe

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