Lesson’s in Field Leadership

As a Power Plant Turnaround Specialist, I would Go Where it was Broke and Fix It.This could mean a piece of equipment, a project, a process, a department or an entire facility.

One of the facilities that I helped turn around had notoriously bad outages. They traditionally over ran schedules and budgets by 20% to 30%. My first outage at this new facility was going extremely well. I had the right contractors, the right plan and we were saving time and money off the budgeted amounts of each of these items.

However, at the end of this outage, I could not get the team to adequately close out the boiler. We wasted approximately 3 extra shifts in an effort to get it done.

I was determined not to let this happen on future outages, so I deliberated and planned fervently when the Hydro Time and Date should be (on the next outage)- Friday at 7:00pm. At the outage morning meeting on wednesday, I put the Hydro Time and Date on the Board, and an interesting thing happened. People started to look at their jobs based on the Hydro Time I had posted. Mystically, we hit the Hydro Time within an hour or two.

For Subsequent outages, I spent less and less time deliberating about a Hydro Time and Date to a point when I just used to “Make it Up.” After 2 years and 10 outages we never missed a Hydro Time or Date by more than 6 hours.

Moral of the Story The best way to complete a project in a timely manner is to set and enforce a specific and reasonable time frame for each phase of the project. For example, when people were left to finish a project without a specific deadline, they would tend to move at a slower, less productive pace. Once a deadline was imposed, people better prioritized the steps necessary to complete their individual tasks on time, making it easier to achieve phase completion by that deadline. This, in turn, speeds up the overall project completion time.

Rules of Thumb Every day, Communicate, Communicate, communicate put the dates and time of milestones up everywhere and make sure everyone involved with the process knows them one and all. Begin the shift with what should be accomplished by the end of the shift. Describe in detail for the guys what the day’s goals deliverables should be. Every job has a schedule and a plan either shift by shift, day by day or week by week of what tasks need to get done.

Leadership: “The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

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