Asking the right questions in Maintenance Management and Reliability Engineering is the most critical aspect of our profession. Often these questions relate to problems, in our endeavour to finding out a solution to those problems. However it is also applicable to our approach in process design, design of leadership, design of our reporting capabilities, our endless aspiration for perfection in all that we do.
More often than not “WHY” is the key question. When a barrier is in front of us we want to know why it is there, why people tell us this is a normal barrier to climb, why it is not possible to eliminate this barrier and go ahead without the delays and problems that this barrier is creating… whatever the barriers are, a way to eliminate them should always be in our core focus.
The challenges that are along the way to the right solution are often related to tunnel vision of those who are too close to the problems, they are facing them maybe every day. When faced with some barriers every day the tendency is to find ways to work around or with the problems because deadlines need to be met and time to solve the root cause of the problem is not available at the moment.
Asking why is a key element in any barrier removal, problem solving and root cause analysis effort. Even when designing work processes and any other element that needs to be improved the right questions need to be asked to find ways to tackle the barriers in the right way so they are never an issue again.
Listening to the people who work in the front lines and ask why is a smart idea, these are the people facing the problems every day and can be valuable allies in finding the key to future success, they also demonstrate an interest in improving their job for the benefit of the company. People that ask, and therefore know, why also demonstrate leadership ability, to quote an educator Diane Ravitch : “The person who knows ‘how’ will always have a job. The person who knows ‘why’ will always be his boss”.
Never accept an answer in the form of “We have always done it this way”. Even if people who ask why can be challenging to deal with, they are definitely worth listening to and taking notice of.
I hope you enjoyed this article and never get tired of asking why, it is more powerful than you can imagine!