John Crossan | Manufacturing Ownership Blog
Shift Exchange Meeting Training

Probably the single most important mechanism item in sustaining ongoing manufacturing improvement.

Daily discussion of issues and improvements in unit meetings between shifts generates the involvement and communication that are essential for ownership and development.

These are the real elements absolutely necessary for sustaining ongoing improvement. These meetings involve shift personnel, but need constant involvement from maintenance personnel, managers, supervision, engineering, etc.

This is a one day class for managers, supervisors, team leaders, maintenance managers, plant engineers, etc.

It can be followed up with some on site time setting up and facilitating actual shift exchange meetings.

This class outlines:

  • The real objectives of the meeting
  • Key elements in conducting the meetings
  • Who should attend?
  • Agendas that work
  • Ground Rules

Various Points Covered:

  • Taking the time
  • Why solving the problem just isn’t that important
  • How much structure?
  • Participation!!
  • How rigorous do we need to be?
  • Explore what went well as well as what didn't.
  • When? Before? After?
  • Developing facilitators
  • Defining communication responsibilities
  • Servants not leaders
  • Genuine is essential.
  • Small is big
  • Big is too big
  • What does businesslike really mean?
  • Is speed a good objective?
  • Egos left at the door
  • No one dreads coming.
  • No humiliation.
  • Power to get things done.
  • Ties to Maintenance Planning and Scheduling.
  • Education and training purpose
  • Building value for processes
  • Building value for teams vs individuals
  • How to track and follow up
  • Help when falling behind
  • Responsibility to document
  • Group choices vs individual choices
  • How tangential can we be?
  • Side conversations?
  • Rotating resource help
  • Commitment to being there.
  • Valid reasons for leaving
  • Meetings must be productive or they will die
  • Avoiding rote content and behavior
  • Punctuality
  • Etiquette
  • Ground Rule reiteration
  • Nazi facilitation?
Focused Improvement Facilitation Training

A facilitated problem solving or process improvement session working with a cross functional plant team (managers, maintenance personnel, operating personnel) to address a significant waste issue.

Two Purposes:

  • Obviously driving to improving the the issue at hand.
  • Providing training and building value for a focused process, so that it will get ongoing use.

There are always improvements identified in these sessions, that lead to significant improvement. It is simply a matter of creating a forum where collective knowledge and ideas can be brought out, organized, and paths forward agreed on.


  1. Have the group identify sustainable solutions to a specific issue or sustainable improvement to a specific process.
  2. Have the group learn a process to systematically understand issues, identify the causes and develop effective sustainable solutions to them.
  3. Work with the group to develop understanding and buy-in to the processes and procedures that need to be in place to prevent these issues occurring and recurring
  4. Provide an example of how to properly facilitate these sessions to get all parties involved and participating effectively.

Key Points

  • Effective facilitation is not just driving a process, using elite participants, to get to a technical solution. Rather it is providing a structured discussion forum with a variety of participants, that will lead to an effective sustainable result (which might be something different).
  • Once the work of developing a detailed understanding of the issue has been done, for most problems, the causes and solutions tend to fall out fairly readily.
  • Rigidly driving a process and not taking the time to entertain some contributary somewhat off process discussion leads to a less effective solution and much less buy in to the result.
  • An effective facilitator must absolutely check their own ego at the door. The process is not about them proving anything about themselves to the group, but only about helping the group get to effective solutions.
  • The facilitator must always completely respect the contributions of the participants while guiding the process.
  • Effective facilitation can best be described as "herding" rather than "leading" A crisply executed process, while perhaps intellectually satisfying, is seldom effective in getting to a sustainable solution..
  • Effective facilitators strike an effective, acceptable balance between forward progress in the process, (to satisfy the impatient) and taking the necessary time to develop issues.
  • Every successful plant must have routine processes in place to effectively develop sustainable solutions to issues on an ongoing basis. These can be quite rapid for smaller issues, but the same principles apply
  • Doing the mostly communication work of gathering detailed facts to really understand the issue, is by far the bulk of the effort.
  • This cannot be just the quick work of an elite team of experts. Widespread involvement through seeking input to understand the issue, propose causes and endorse solutions is vital for sustaining solutions.
Maintenance 101 Training

This workshop is an essential early part of the equipment care improvement effort in a plant. Usually following a maintenance assessment (recommended), it combines maintenance system education, equipment care issues discussion, and the development of an overall plant equipment care improvement strategy.

It is targeted for plant leadership and key maintaining and operating personnel.

The objectives of the session are:

  1. To develop understanding of the principles of Proactive Maintenance (involving everyone, not just the maintenance organization) as the most effective and the most efficient least cost way of managing maintenance and manufacturing.
  2. To develop understanding of the Basic Maintenance System Components And Processes
  3. Identify and Discuss Issues with the Current Plant Equipment Care Systems and Practices and begin development of an Improvement Strategy.

The bulk of the class is discussion of the various elements of a proactive maintenance system,  the various issues around equipment care in that plant and others, and what is involved in  implementing and sustaining proactive maintenance in a plant.
The class is not simply presentation of content; it is intended to generate a preliminary path forward for equipment care improvement in a plant, through a series of focused discussions. For this exercise to be successful and develop a meaningful committed strategy, all those who will have major impact on the plan in the plant must participate.

This strategy document is an ongoing working document for the Equipment Care Improvement Effort in a plant. It does not relate necessarily to a CMMS implementation, but to the long-term forward movement of the maintenance effort in a plant.

The session is typically structured to take two half days and one full day to allow participants to take care of plant business in the other half days, but can be tailored to fit plant needs.

Session Components

  • Outline
  • Why Proactive Maintenance is Essential
  • Preventive Maintenance and Autonomous Maintenance
  • Work Order Systems
  • Work Order Planning
  • Work Order Scheduling
  • Spare Parts Inventory and Purchasing
  • Reliability Improvement
  • Equipment Care Metrics and their use.
  • Maintenance, Operating and other relevant Data Analysis
  • Summary
  • Build the Plant Strategy (1st Pass).

    John has conducted this workshop over thirty times in a wide variety of manufacturing plants. The key elements are common and continue to evolve, but none of the sessions have ever been identical.
Plant Maintenance Assessments

The Proactive Maintenance Assessment is intended to provide both an outsider's evaluation and also a guided self evaluation by plant personnel of the effectiveness and efficiency of the plant's maintenance system.

It is essentially a benchmarking study evaluating the system for conformance with the proven standard components of a maintenance system, and with industry standard performance parameters of a maintenance system. It applies to any plant structure, traditional or team based.

The assessment is a constructive tool with several purposes:

  • Provide a maintenance training / learning experience for all involved in the assessment process. The questionnaire interview / discussion process is intended to allow individuals to assess their systems themselves, and in so doing gain a clear picture of where we are trying to get to, and what we need to do to get there.
  • To identify what basic components of a maintenance system are in place, and assess the overall effectiveness of the system, identifying items being done well and areas where there is opportunity for improvement.
  • Provide basic, opportunity for improvement, gap information for a review and improvement strategy session with the plant leadership team
Maintenance Planning and Scheduling Training

Typically a 2 day on-site class for Maintenance Planners, Schedulers, Supervisors, Managers and Key Maintenance Personnel.

A combination of the theory behind these functions, actually planning and scheduling current real plant workorders, and understanding and addressing the issues that can stand in the way of effective planning and scheduling in a plant.

Periodic public sessions are conducted in an actual manufacturing facility in the Chicagoland area. This gives the opportunity to work on actual issues on actual equipment.


  • Understanding the Maintenance Planning and Scheduling Functions. The difference between the two, and why they are so essential for effective maintenance and effective manufacturing.
  • Get Buy In from Maintenance Personnel and Management.
  • Develop the basic process steps for Planning and for Scheduling of Maintenance Work.
  • Plan and Schedule current maintenance work.
  • Develop the Basic Daily Measures necessary to make and keep these functions effective.
  • Discuss the plant issues that must be dealt with to get these functions actually working in the plant.
  • Develop a path forward to get the functions better in place and contributing to improvement in plant productivity ongoing.

Questions Answered in the Sessions(That you probably won't hear about anywhere else)

  • What's wrong with "We'll go check it out, figure out what we need to do, and deal with it"?
  • Doesn't this take away from the sense of urgency we need to really make improvement?
  • So what does "10 - 1 = 16.5 "mean to maintenance staffing?
  • What is an effective level of Planning on a job? And how do you determine it?
  • Does the Planner do all the planning?
  • What's the "Saturday Home Depot" Syndrome?
  • Many would say Maintenance is the last refuge of the independent minded, skilled craft individuals in manufacturing. Why would they buy into seemingly restrictive systems like Planning and Scheduling? WIFM?
  • Parts? Parts? Parts? Way too much time and effort is typically spent on spare parts. Why?
  • Why is Parts not the first thing to fix?
Lean Manufacturing 101 Training

This is a one or two day workshop, intended for plant leadership groups, that focuses on generating productivity improvement, by understanding and strengthening the basic processes of manufacturing. In so doing this accomplishes the "Lean" objective of ongoing waste elimination.

Key points:

  • Why does performance of plants cycle up and down? Why do all the Improvement Programs always run out of steam?
  • Basics: Safety, Housekeeping, Product Quality, Equipment Care, A Permanent Problem Solving/ Improvement Process.
  • Why the strength of these basics is so essential for the success of any manufacturing operation.
  • Why do they wane?
  • "Put the processes is in place and the results will come".
  • Basic routine mechanisms that will sustain these basics.
  • Routine Kaizen vs Event Kaizen
  • Lean waste elimination tools, Value Stream Mapping, 5S, TPM, Why Why, SMED, etc,and how they fit in
  • Why ownership is the key
  • Success through the majority or the minority?
  • Management behavior necessary to sustain the basics.
  • Getting it done during normal operations.
  • Getting it done without massive resources and downtime.
  • Getting it done quickly!
The workshop is in two stages:
  1. A classroom session covering the content and including group breakout sessions using actual plant situations to develop understanding, and develop some basic information about the plant itself.
  2. Initial working group sessions to develop a path forward for the plant
Speaking Engagements

Available for speaking engagements on Manufacturing and Maintenance Improvement.

Have given well received presentations at a variety of maintenance and manufacturing conferences over the years.

Typically an experienced based message presented with humor.