In an e-mail, Junaid asked:
How we will enhance top management commitment and involvement for implementation of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)?
This is a great general question to ask for any effort to establish excellence, maintain excellence or transform excellence to yet a higher level. Specific to TPM, we would expect a high level of total commitment to be built into the education and roll out of the program since as the name suggests it is Total PM. So the place to start may be to examine how well the education phase explained the roles of management in supporting TPM.
Even assuming this education was done adequately, the learning of their roles as management in TPM to fully engage may still be intellectual, rather than kinesthetic. Seen from a distance, the message that “Everybody must now get cozy with machines” may not be one that senior leaders can to relate to easily or even accept. Of course TPM can be expanded beyond factories and machines to include office TPM, cost deployment and all aspects of the running of a business, which is another aspect of the “total”. Production operation depending on machines and equipment to add value. Non-production operations have other assets and facilities. Everyone needs to get cozy with these, regardless of industry, to practice TPM.
Understanding this, the first thing to do is to get our hands dirty. There is not a better way to enhance total management commitment than to get dirty. We must get dirty in order to get clean. That’s may sound a bit zen but in practice the cleaning, inspection, repair and restoration of equipment and processes to good operating conditions is fundamental activity of TPM. Cleaning is not the job of maintenance. It is not the job of operators. It is not the job of kaizen engineers. It is the job of anyone who understands what the T in TPM stands for. Cleaning and caring for assets creates intimacy, familiarity a sense of responsibility that is essential to continuous improvement.
“Why start first by involving managers in cleaning?” you may ask. Why not go the other direction and involve the front line workers in the manager’s job? If the goal is total involvement and the bringing together of people from various levels in the organization in working towards a common goal, wouldn’t it be easier for us all to meet in the comfortable chairs of the executive suite to look at charts, rather than in the heat, grime and noise of the floor? Wouldn’t leaders be more comfortable leading from their home turf?
In a lean transformation a significant part of the change is to empower the front line workers and team leaders to make decisions on managing and improving their own processes on a daily basis. This does require enhancing the awareness, skills and knowledge of workers and involves some work with charts, conference rooms and presentations. But Mahogany Row is not where the value is added. It is not where the problems are most visible. When leadership responsibilities are being driven to the front lines, where action can be taken based on live information, the learning and teaching is best done there also.
In order for this engagement of the front line in daily management and improvement to be job enrichment rather than job intensification, the role of leaders must also change. This involves defining the leader’s responsibility to go to the front lines in order to experience day-to-day reality so that they can support daily management efforts. The best way to enhance the level of commitment is to learn through firsthand experience what problems exist on the front lines. Many of them are easily solved once people establish common understanding of the situation. In TPM many of the problems are related to dirty machines. Enhancing total management commitment requires that their hands work to expose problems by removing some of the grime. This grime may also exit at the figurative level, hiding the signs of forced deterioration within the organization’s intangible systems and processes.
When we go to the floor and leave with clean hands, it is too easy to step back up to a computer or handle paperwork. When we leave with dirty hands, there is at least a meaningful delay while we wash our hands. The dirt is a type of evidence that front line engagement has taken place. In TPM, a useful question to test total management commitment may be “How many times did you wash your hands today?”