Ready, Fire, Aim Reliability Goal Setting
“Keeping the end in mind”, “working toward a common objective” and “providing a vision” are all convention management wisdom based on setting goals.
Seeing a reliability goal is one of the first tasks when creating a reliability plan.
“How good (reliable) does it have to be?”
That is answered with a reliability goal statement.
There is a lot of uncertainty concerning a reliability goal.
- Is it possible given current technology?
- Is it what the customer really want?
- Is it possible to know when we achieve the goal?
In a recent article, The Tyranny of Goals and the Power of Doing What’s Indicated Brian Clark makes the argument that setting and doggedly adhering to goals may not be the best course of action. (Further.net article dated July 20, 2105)
Instead of current research and studies indicate an adaptive approach leads to successful outcomes more often.
The idea of creating a direction or process than adapting to the situation and opportunities tends to pay off.
Brian recommends doing what’s indicated.
For reliability planning, this means that we adjust and correct the product to best meet customer expectations within the range of given constraints. As we learn about the technology and its capabilities, we adjust.
As we grasp and understand the durability expectations of customers, we adjust.
The reliability goal may shift during the process.
This isn’t new.
As we discovered technology breakthroughs that would extend the operating life of a product, we may have capitalized by extending the warranty.
Or, as customers shifted to expect products to work in harsh environments, we adjusted the ruggedness of the design.
I think the idea is to be flexible.
Poke and prod the environment, technology, and opportunities to find the right fit between what you’re offering and what customers will buy.
The broader markets we work within do this as a result of competition.
When to adjust a goal
Within a project, having a clear reliability goal supports nearly every aspect of product development and we should be aware of what would trigger a reliability goal adjustment.
We should consider adjusting the goal when:
- We have the ability to far exceed the goal
- We find significant demand for a less expensive shorter lived product
- We find significant demand for a more expensive longer-lived product
- We learn of life-limiting failure mechanisms unique to the application
- We identify an opportunity that creates more value
Creating a new product or bringing up a production line is difficult.
At the start we may have a clear intention, even using goals to define the project.
And, along with the way we study, learn, comprehend, and characterize, we refine our understanding of how our goals will pan out.
We can ignore the distractions that say the goal needs an update, or we can adapt and thrive achieving even better goals.
In your experience, given reasonable reliability goals, what caused them to change? Or, are your goals flexible at all?
Share your experience, and let’s go find the right solutions to meet the important needs of our customers.
Guiding Programs by Product Goals (article)
3 Elements of Reliability Goal Setting (article)