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Excessive Repair Cycles – Innovative Solutions

The following piece is not out of a Management Textbook, but rather the result of the cumulative years of experience of a few consultants working with companies trying to improve their work practices

There is a saying – using the same solution for the same problem is a sign of idiocy. We see this all the time, especially in government applications, such as printing more money trying to get out of the hole but creating a bigger problem. We often see this in business where managers use the same solution for different kinds of problems. When you are allocating time and human resources to solve a problem, why not use the same time and meeting to aspire towards a more innovative solution.

It is easy, because it is only a matter of asking a different question, such as “Why do you want to make this decision?” For example, you are considering buying a new car and when I ask you.

“Why do you want to do that?” it might sound like a senseless question, but your answer is

“I need to have transport getting to work on a daily basis.”

So, why are you not rather considering deciding on “Find the best way to get to work”. Your answer might still be to buy a new car, but you might just find a more innovative solution for the same time and effort.

Imagine the time, money and other resources wasted having multiple meetings, re-forming your decision, not having any buy-in from staff and having to make yet another decision on the same issue before long. As consultants we are conscious of the following behaviors that could cost a lot of time and effort in an economic environment where we really cannot afford it.

  • Finding a solution for the effects instead of its underlying cause/reason. It is much cheaper, quicker, and more acceptable for all to find a solution for the underlying cause of the effects.

  • Collaborate with the correct stakeholders from the outset. It is much cheaper having their buy-in from the outset in the decision-making process.

  • Engage the most appropriate information resources. Don’t settle for “stand-ins” and ensure you get your facts from the best qualified people

Follow an innovative decision-making process so that participation is orderly and logical for all. Normally we use functional analysis whereby we break down the decision component(s) into its most basic function (going back to the original concept) and then looking at ways of doing it differently.

Client Success Story

A fossil fuel power station was getting to the end of its lifecycle, and they wanted to extend the life of the facility by at least another 10 years (LifeX). The Engineering Team had already outdone themselves by finding a way to strip all the interior piping, electricals, and other maintenance items and re-purpose and rebuild using the existing concrete structures.

About three weeks into LifeX they hit a bottleneck, as there was only one elevator going up 10 stories. It was going too slow, and they needed to speed up the daily volume.

The basic requirement was they needed more volume capacity. They looked at many options but could not find an acceptable one. We asked a few questions and they decided they need to find a way to bring more materials up and down without affecting the other LifeX operations. After some discussion they decided to create another door opening through the one-meter concrete wall and install a high-capacity temporary elevator on the outside of the concrete structure. This action was cost effective and quick and saved them at least three weeks’ work.


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