Learn to Notice MTBF Everyday

14586638599_24177bfb25_m_dLearn to Notice MTBF Everyday

Did you notice the speed limit signs in your neighborhood today?

If like me, you went about your commute or regular travels relatively blind. You watched for the neighbor’s dog that jumped into the road last week, yet didn’t register seeing the speed limit sign.

It’s a cognitive burden to notice the mundane or known.

Running errands with my wife last weekend, she mentioned a row of palm trees along a side street. I’m not sure I noticed them before, and we wondered about the utility of planting palm trees in a straight line.

Then I noticed palm trees for the rest of the trip. Along the roads I’ve traveled many times, I noticed palms trees that I had not ‘seen’ before. The same occurs when you buy a new model of car, you suddenly see them everywhere.

The issue is MTBF has become invisible.

A Notice MTBF Exercise for Today

Besides this article, how many times have you seen the term ‘MTBF’ today? You may not have been counting, yet do you recall any instances? This week?

Just how pervasive is MTBF in your world? If you are one of the fortunate, you witness MTBF use on occasion with a vendor, yet your customers and your team have effectively eradicated the MTBF habit. For many, it’s is lurking about you. Have you noticed?

Try this exercise. Pay attention, look for, seek, find each instance of MTBF in your day. Note each occurrence. Tally how many ways MTBF is in use around you (dare I say by you).

The First Step is to Notice

A few years ago someone suggested I create a 12-step program to help organizations move beyond MTBF. I thought about it, yet didn’t want to take away from the wonderful help 12-step programs have brought so many. I do not think MTBF use is addictive, just an unfortunate habit.

To change a habit or behavior does take time, though. You first have to recognize when you engage in the habit.

Notice the speed limit sign – by looking for it.

If you use the term MTBF in daily discussions, you first have to be aware of the use. Get in the habit of paying attention for it’s use in others.

Listen for MTBF and you may just find it surprising how often and where it appears.

As you notice it’s use, not the context. Note how you could have changed the discussion from the use of MTBF to reliability (which is what you likely were talking about anyway)

What barriers exist that the conversation or document used MTBF instead of something meaningful?

That’s it. Just notice the use of MTBF.

Add a comment below with what you noticed? Try the exercise for a week or two, do you start to anticipate and avoid using MTBF? Are you actively seeking to change the way your organization talks about reliability? Good.

Now, how fast were you driving when you passed the speed limit sign this morning?

About Fred Schenkelberg

I am an experienced reliability engineering and management consultant with my firm FMS Reliability. My passion is working with teams to create cost-effective reliability programs that solve problems, create durable and reliable products, increase customer satisfaction, and reduce warranty costs.

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