Tom Moriarty, PE, CMRP, ARP-A/E/L is President at Alidade MER where he helps organizations achieve organizational reliability through insight, advice and implementation support to those who lead people and manage physical assets. Mike Petrusky asks Tom about his book, “The Productive Leadership System – Maximizing Organizational Reliability” where he offers a system where senior leaders are accountable to provide direction (mission, vision, values and objectives), guidance (policies, plans, processes, procedures and measures), and they must provide the assets required to carry out guidance. Subordinate leaders and team members are accountable to execute current guidance with current assets, and to notify senior leaders when there are deficiencies in guidance or assets. Tune in for more details and some great inspirational quotes from Tom and Mike!
Full Podcast Transcript
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Tom Moriarty: Then the last piece is setting goals. This is the last piece of the productive leadership model. People need direction, right, so we want to make sure that we have mission- vision values, objectives, but we also want to set goals, waypoints on how to get to those objectives.
Mike: This is The Asset Champion Podcast, where we talk with facilities maintenance and asset management leaders about the industry trends and technologies impacting your organization. This show is powered by the iOFFICE Asset Division, delivering easy- to- use maintenance management software tools to help you drive powerful asset performance. Hey, folks, welcome to the show. It is another episode of The Asset Champion Podcast. So glad you are here. I’m excited to introduce you to another great guest from our asset management community from Florida. Please welcome Tom Moriarty. Hey, Tom.
Tom Moriarty: Hey, Mike. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
Mike: It is great to have you. What part of Florida are you calling in from?
Tom Moriarty: Yeah, so I’m near Melbourne, Florida, which is about halfway down the East Coast, just south of Cocoa Beach or Kennedy Space Center. Can watch the launches out my front window.
Mike: Wow, cool. That’s the home of Major Nelson from I Dream of Jeannie, right?
Tom Moriarty: Yeah, Major Nelson was okay, but I was more of a Jeannie guy.
Mike: Yes. Let’s give tribute to the beautiful Barbara Eden one more time.
Tom Moriarty: Yeah.
Mike: I certainly grew up watching that show and enjoyed it, but also the idea of space travel and all that’s going on is an exciting thing to be near. How long have you lived in Florida?
Tom Moriarty: I was actually stationed in Florida a couple of times when I was on active duty in the Coast Guard, but since retiring, I moved here in 2003, and we’ve been living here ever since.
Mike: Awesome. Here we are in the summer of 2021. Things are heating up, I imagine?
Tom Moriarty: Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Pretty soon, I’ll have to use a golf cart when I play. Right now, I walk.
Mike: Oh, that’s right. We should share. I remember your friend and mine, Hank Kosovar, mentioned that you are a golfer. I got out and played for the first time in a long, long time last week. It was a beautiful day here in the D. C. area. I didn’t keep score, but I felt I’d had a couple of good holes. How often do you play? Because Hank told me to ask me how your handicap’s going down there in Florida.
Tom Moriarty: Well, I don’t want to make Hank cry, but it’s actually pretty good these days. I’m actually playing the best golf of my life right now, so I’m pretty happy with it.
Mike: Good for you.
Tom Moriarty: Yeah.
Mike: Tom is president of Alidade Maintenance, Engineering, and Reliability, or Alidade MER for short. He is also the author of a book called The Productive Leadership System where he talks about the reasons why most leadership training fails to deliver results. Tom, I’m excited to learn more about all of this, but first, why don’t you tell us a little bit about how you ended up where you are today?
Tom Moriarty: Yeah, sure. As we mentioned, I was in the Coast Guard for 24 years. Early on, I was an enlisted guy. I was a machinery technician, did a lot of work at coastal search and rescue stations. Think about it as kind of an ocean- going fire department. Then I transitioned into ships and doing the same thing except off of ships through the middle part of my career. Towards the end of my career, I was more doing shore- side support for cutters, for large ships.
Tom Moriarty: Then I got out of the service in 2003, I forgot to mention midway there, about nine years in, I went to officer candidate school, and I continued on in naval engineering. That’s why when I got out, I focused on physical asset management, maintenance and reliability, but I started really looking at things outside the coast guard, looking at industry and facilities’ maintenance and all those sorts of things, and got heavily involved in doing assessments and helping customers get better at doing maintenance and reliability.
Tom Moriarty: But somewhere, while I was making that professional change in the early to mid-2000s, I started noticing something that all the books that are written on maintenance and reliability, there was a lot of emphasis on the process of how you put in planning and scheduling or how do you conduct reliability-centered maintenance, FMEAs, root cause analysis, and some of the higher- level statistical methods that you can use to gain knowledge from data.
Tom Moriarty: But not enough people were talking about how do you actually execute, how do you actually get things done. Coming out of the military, there was a heavy focus on leadership and an organization, right, accountability. But when you get into manufacturing and different communities outside of the military, I started noticing that there really was insufficient accountability and that came from not having a good organizational structure, but more precisely, not having good accountability assigned to different levels within the organizational structure.
Tom Moriarty: Then the second problem was not seeing enough leadership capability in the people who are in leadership positions. Oftentimes, a company will say,” Things are getting out of hand.” People are abusing break hours and stuff like that, so they’ll talk to their HR department:” Hey, set up some leadership training because we need our supervisors and managers to be better leaders.” They go to the Holiday Inn Express for half a day or a day of time management, communication, and so forth, but they don’t get more than that, the things that are really productive leadership, the stuff that goes well beyond just leadership skills. That’s what prompted me to write the book. I had also been doing, for now it’s about 12 years, I’ve been writing a monthly column for Plant Services Magazine. I started doing that because I saw this need, but I don’t get paid for that or anything. Once in a while, they give me a little advertising, but I don’t get paid to write that article. I just do it because it’s a form of giving back.
Mike: Excellent. Well, there’s lots of experience there, obviously, and knowledge that you can share with my audience of people who want to be serious about their careers and also this area of training and becoming an asset champion is something that I’m certainly passionate about as I learn more about the profession. But before we dive deeper into your book and your work, Tom, I’ve got to ask you about music. It’s something that I use as a tool to get to know the personality of my guests. What are you listening to?
Tom Moriarty: Oh, well, for a long time, from my youth until maybe just a few years ago, it was always ACDC, Marshall Tucker, Zeppelin.
Tom Moriarty: All those really great old southern rock bands. But the last few years, I’ve really started getting into blues, people like Tab Benoit, Susan Tedeschi, a lot of great artists that a lot of folks probably never even heard of, but it’s just some really great stuff.
Mike: Ber- na-na-na-na. Give me the asset management blues. Ber- na-na-na-na.
Tom Moriarty: That’s right, man.
Mike: Just kidding.
Tom Moriarty: That’s right.
Mike: Excellent. Do you have a favorite motivational quote you could share with us?
Tom Moriarty: Oh, wow. A favorite single one, no, but there’s many. I think Deming always is good for some, right?” The deal with a bad system will beat a good person every time. It’s not enough to do your best. You must know what to do and then do your best. Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.” Buckmeister Fuller, he said that you never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
Mike: Ah, interesting.
Tom Moriarty: There’s some great, great stuff, right? Bobby Jones, we talk about golf sometimes, right? Bobby Jones said that golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots and you get good breaks from bad shots, but you have to play the ball where it lies.
Mike: Yes, you do. There you go. Wow. That is quite a string of quotes. I love it. That is a great transition into the fact that this world of asset management is a broad one and I’m exploring it in many ways, different angles, different perspectives. I wonder, what areas do you focus on and how do you approach things, Tom?
Tom Moriarty: Yeah. When I first got into this line of work, I used to think that there were four things that you needed to do to have really good capability within maintenance and reliability. The first two things you had to do simultaneously. That’s configuration management or what I call” hierarchy criticality and configuration management.” You have to know what assets you have in your facilities and what’s the importance of those assets and they should be in a hierarchical format within your CMMS to make sure that you can make use of that, both in the planning and scheduling process, but also in where you store data so that later you can go mine that data.
Tom Moriarty: The second thing done in concert with hierarchy criticality and configuration management was having a good work management process: How do you do planning and scheduling? How do you make sure you’re pulling materials from stores, documenting what you did, making sure that you’re able to forward plans so you’re not doing everything in a reactive manner? Those are the first two things.
Tom Moriarty: The third thing was to then have a method to be able to identify what are your equipment maintenance strategies or equipment reliability strategies, right, so making sure you go down through your high- criticality items and come up with asset management strategies or equipment management strategies. That’s using reliability-centered maintenance, failure modes, and effects analysis, those sorts of things.
Tom Moriarty: Then the fourth level was doing the higher- level reliability engineering stuff, or the continuous improvement piece. That’s where you go back and revisit the RCM, or you do root cause analysis, or you do a failed parts analysis and things like that so that you’re looking to continuously improve your equipment strategies. But after having been into a lot of different facilities, I started noticing that four or five years before I was there doing an assessment and coming up with an action plan, I started seeing, well, four or five years ago, there was another consulting firm here doing exactly the same thing.
Tom Moriarty: The few cases I had to review the materials that were left behind, it looked fine. It was not exactly the same as I approached it, but it was close enough where it should have worked, so the question kept coming up: Why is it that we keep trying to do this change management thing and it never seems to take? That’s why I started getting interested in the productive leadership system, which is putting in organizational reliability as well as individual leader capability.
Mike: Interesting. I’ve got to ask you more about the book. The Productive Leadership System is the name of the book. What do you want people to know they will get if they crack open a copy of this particular book?
Tom Moriarty: Yeah, so I tried to make it very practical. I tried to make it something that anybody can pick up and read and get value from it. The first chapter is just about why is it important? Why is organizational reliability and productive leadership important? That just lets them think a little bit about the business case: Why should we do this? I mentioned the second chapter is about the human brain because as a mechanical engineer, one of the things that we’re drilled down on through my education was go back to first principles. Everything has to be built on a solid foundation, so when I talk about the different aspects of the organizational reliability model or the productive leadership model, I want that to be built on a solid foundation of brain science. We can’t argue with how our brains work, right?
Tom Moriarty: It’s biological physics. This is how our brains work.
Tom Moriarty: Then I go into the organizational reliability model because that model works across each level of leadership, so if you’re a line supervisor of a work center, that model works for you. If you’re a plant manager with direct reports at the manager level, it works for you. If you’re at the corporate level talking to plant managers, it works for you. It’s all about trying to communicate it in a way that people get it. It’s not that hard. What I say throughout the book and every time I speak to people,” I’m a firm believer that leaders are made, not born, because the way that our brains work, we can learn these things.”
Tom Moriarty: That’s the organizational reliability model is really at each level of leadership, there’s a senior person and one or more subordinates, and the senior person has accountability to assess strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, to define what we’re going to do about them, and to authorize that change and to implement those changes. Usually, that means providing, guidance, policies, plans, processes, procedures, and measures, providing the assets that are needed to carry out the guidance, and providing the training and the tools and so forth that are needed. The senior person has that accountability, or that set of accountabilities. The subordinate person also has accountability, though. They have an accountability to execute current guidance with current assets and to notify the senior person when there’s a deficiency in guidance or assets and so at every level of leadership, that same model applies. I could go a mile deep on all that, but we have a limited time on the podcast.
Mike: People need to buy the book. We’re going to make them buy the book, Tom.
Tom Moriarty: Yeah, yeah, okay. The next chapter is about the productive leadership model. The productive leadership model, as I said earlier, it’s more than going to the Holiday Inn Express to get a day for communication, time management, delegation, and those sorts of things. Those are leadership skills, but leadership skills are only one piece of the puzzle. When I talk about leadership capability, the model talks about the leader themselves and the leader should have a personal set of mission- vision values and objectives. Then I talk about leadership roles, attributes, and skills. Okay, so leadership roles are where you spend your time when you’re being a leader. What things do you spend your time on? There’s five of them when you’re in a leadership role. There’s expert technician, and in most cases, we want to be doing very little of that. We want to develop our people so they don’t need us to be that expert technician. If you’re that line supervisor, that means put down the tools. That means let your guys do the work. You’re no longer a technician. You’re a leader, a manager, right?
Tom Moriarty: The second real leadership role is manager administrator. The manager administrator is making sure that the time cards are done on time, making sure that the procurement requests are going in, making sure people are doing what they’re supposed to be doing.
Tom Moriarty: Then the third one is coach. Manager administrator, we should be doing a significant amount of time there. Coach is another one that we should be doing a significant amount of time in. Coaching is really when you’re going around, developing your folks, not sitting in your office all day, right? We want to get out and about and we want to interact with our, our direct reports and we want them to see us interacting with their peers.
Tom Moriarty: The fourth one is called” systems thinker.” That’s when you’re working on the internal strengths and weaknesses for your area of responsibility, so continuous improvement of your policies and processes and so forth.
Tom Moriarty: Then the fifth one is visionary. That’s where you’re looking at opportunities and threats that originate from outside of your sphere of influence, right, so things that come in, maybe there’s a new technology or there’s a new regulation or law that’s coming down. You have to prepare your folks for that. When you’re in a leadership position, those are the leadership roles. Attributes are, as I go through all of these, just remember, all of these things are things that you can learn, right? That’s why leaders are made not born. Leadership attributes, the first letters of this spell” carma” with a C. It’s being consistent, being attentive, being respectful, motivational, and assertive.
Tom Moriarty: Most leadership problems run from not being attentive and assertive enough, but those are five attributes or characteristics that we need to express when we’re going through our day- to- day lives as a leader. We talked about leadership skills briefly earlier. That’s time management, communication, empowerment or delegation, giving and receiving feedback, and conflict resolution. Those are the five most important leadership skills. Then I talk about influencing others. There’s several models that I talk about. Everybody’s heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Tom Moriarty: I think that’s insufficient to deal with a workplace scenario, so I talk a lot about Herzberg’s motivator hygiene theory, which basically talks to whether there is a high level of dissatisfaction in the workplace. The idea here is that if the dissatisfiers are too numerous or too deep, then you can do all the motivating things in the world and you’re not going to get people motivated, right?
Tom Moriarty: There’s another, McClelland’s needs theory. There’s a couple of other ones I talk about there. But understanding how to influence people, group dynamics, those sorts of things. Then the last piece is setting goals. This is the last piece of the productive leadership model. It’s setting goals. People need direction, right, so we want to make sure that we have mission- vision values, objectives, but we also want to set goals, waypoints on how to get to those objectives. That’s the productive leadership model. Then the last chapter is: How do you put this in play? How do you set your organization up to have a productive leadership system, right? That’s really putting policies in place and setting up training and maybe some surveying, those sorts of things.
Tom Moriarty: That’s pretty much it. There’s some appendix material in there, too, about how those specific types of surveys that I recommend. It’s the survey I did with Plant Services Magazine back in 2015. We’re getting ready to kick it off again, so I can send you a link for that and encourage people that are in manufacturing and facilities, if they wouldn’t mind taking that. They could be a hourly- wage person, a supervisor, a manager, or senior manager. There’s responses that we’re asking for from each.
Mike: Sure. Please do share that link. That’d be fantastic.
Tom Moriarty: Okay.
Mike: Wow. So much great stuff there, Tom. This has been wonderful. I really appreciate you spending time with us here on The Asset Champion Podcast.
Tom Moriarty: Thank you, Mike. I very much appreciate it.
Mike: There you have it, everybody. Tom Moriarty of Alidade MER sharing his thoughts about organizational reliability and productive leadership. As I mentioned, you could find more details about Tom and his book in the show notes. I hope you’ll check that out and also connect with him on LinkedIn. Tell him you heard him here on The Asset Champion Podcast. If you are enjoying this show, please leave us a rating and review over at Apple Podcasts and join me again next week as we continue on our journey to explore the world of asset management as we encourage and inspire each other to be an asset champion. Peace out. You’ve been listening to The Asset Champion Podcast. We hope you found this discussion beneficial as we work together to elevate asset management success by improving efficiency, reducing costs, and building best practices. For more information about how the iOFFICE Asset Division can boost the performance of your physical assets by providing comprehensive enterprise asset management software solutions, please visit assetchampion. com.
Connect with Tom on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alidade-mer/
Learn more about Alidade MER: https://alidade-mer.com/
Take Tom’s leadership survey: https://plnt.sv/LEADER-2021
Connect with Mike on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikepetrusky/
Learn more about the iOFFICE Asset Division and explore more interviews at: https://www.assetchampion.com/
Share your thoughts with Mike via email: podcast@iOFFICECORP.com