Organizing for Change | Part 5 of 5

The MicroMain Blog is pleased to present another entry in our guest blogger series. We are reaching out to third-party industry experts for their take on maintenance management, especially as it relates to a successful CMMS solution.

Dale R. Blann is the Principal/CEO of Marshall Institute, a leading asset management consulting and training company. In this blog, the fifth and final in Dale’s five-part “world class maintenance” series, he describes the process by which a maintenance department can accomplish real change.

View his first four blog posts in the “world class maintenance” series: Three Steps to World Class Maintenance (Intro), Maintenance Excellence, Getting Beyond the Boundaries, and Fixing the Process, Not Just the Problems.

World Class Maintenance Series Part 5 of 5

Guest Blogger: Dale R. Blann, Principal/CEO, Marshall Institute Inc.  |  |  919-834-3722

Organizing for Change

By Dale R. Blann, Principal/CEO, Marshall Institute Inc.

Presumably, if you have followed this series of articles (“A Framework for Achieving World Class Maintenance”), and if you have some desire to move your organization to world class, or “best-in-class” status, then you probably have some changes to make.

Changing the way an organization does business is not easy. It’s not a technical process, really–it’s what Organizational Development consultants call a “socio-technical” process. It’s about changing the culture of an organization–the way people see the world, the way they do work–changing hearts and minds, as it were.

So you know change needs to happen, but you don’t know where to start. Let me suggest a way to think about what has to be done.

Keep It Simple, Stupid!

The simplest way to think about what you have to do to produce change is based on a model called “Driving Force for Change” (Beckhard Harris, 1987), or sometimes simply the “DVF Formula” for change:

Cdf = D x V x Fs R


Cdf    = Driving force for change

D     = Dissatisfaction with status quo (current state)

V     = Vision of what could/should be

Fs    = Practical First Steps in the direction of the Vision

R     = Resistance to change (or “Risk to me”)

It’s so simple, it’s elegant! If I am trying to shift my organization to a new way of doing things, this formula helps me remember the fundamentals of what I must do to be successful: show them why they should be unhappy with what is (D), give them a vision of what could/should be (V), and plan some practical first steps on how to get there (Fs)! Make sure none of these factors are zero, and all them together will be sufficiently great enough to overcome whatever resistance or risk (R) there may be.

Dissatisfaction with Status Quo (D)

All change begins with dissatisfaction with the status quo (current state). For maintenance, it is often sufficient to conduct a formal assessment of current maintenance practices against world class or “best-in-class” standards to convince people that things could/should be better. If we are happy with things as they are now, we are not going anywhere. Why would we?

Vision of a Future State (V)

We must create a shared vision (World Class Maintenance) of what we want to achieve together going forward. What could/should the future look like? Why would that future be better than the present? The Vision must be clear, attractive, and achievable. If it’s none of these things, or we don’t want to go there, we are not going anywhere. Why should we?

First Steps (Fs)

Vision without action produces a vacuum. People must be able to participate in concrete, practical first steps for making the desired future state (Vision) a reality. If there are no practical (and safe) “next steps,” if there is no plan for action, or if we do not know how or what to do next, we are going nowhere. How can we?

Resistance/Risk (R)

Change, no matter how small, can be inconvenient at best and dangerous at worst to those experiencing it. People resist change when they:

  • Are happy with the way things are
  • Don’t understand (or agree with) where we’re going
  • Lose something of value (respect, status, or competence) in the process

Generally, the most effective way to deal with resistance or risk is to make sure the people involved in the change are engaged in shaping the left side of the equation. People tend not to resist their own ideas.

The Algebra of Change

Note the factors (DVF) are multiplied together; that means none of them can be zero, or the result (the driving force for change) will be zero. They can’t be near zero, either; working together, they must be sufficient to exceed the ever present resistance to change or risk to the people involved. R is never zero.

So remember your “change agent” job!

1) Show them why they should be unhappy with what is (D)

2) Give them a vision of what could/should be (V),

and 3) Identify some practical first steps on how to get there (Fs)!

Finally, make sure none of these factors are zero, and that all them working together is sufficiently great to overcome whatever ever-present resistance or natural risk (R) there may be (real or perceived).