The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
In Maxims for Revolutionists (1903) by George Bernard Shaw
It is those that see the world as it should be that prompts change. I believe it is those resisting change to be unreasonable; I suppose it depends on your point of view. The idea or invention may be an inspiration or take diligent work, yet the real work is in changing the reasonable to a new way of viewing the world.
Understanding everyone as not as unreasonable as you helps you prepare others for change. Challenging the resistance may label you as unreasonable. Be prepared and drive on, you are in good company.
Reliability Quote of the Day, ISSN 2329-0099
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A quote request
I received a request from Quality Progress magazine to provide a quote and 100 words about the selection. The above is my submission.
I thought about this quote as Kirk Gray recently used the quote in reference to my work behind the NoMTBF campaign. I took it as a compliment and thought about all those other unreasonable folks from Galileo to Steve Jobs that would fit the Shaw definition of unreasonable. My efforts and accomplishments pale in comparison, yet I do have the desire to change the world.
Enjoying a challenge
Unlike some people, I have always enjoyed my work. From door to door salesman of Fuller Brush product during high school, the Army, manufacturing engineering and reliability consulting, I’ve always tried to make the job work for me and the organization’s purpose or goals. Maybe I found ways to change the world about me to make the job fun, or I found the challenge of changing the world exciting in itself. I’m not sure, yet I almost always found ways to make a new assignment work interesting, challenging and valuable.
Out of high school and private in the Army, I was asked to be the battalion’s mail clerk (response for sorting and delivering mail to 500 soldiers) while the current mail clerk went on vacation. It was his full-time job and he had received specialized training to manage the role. I spent a day with him, and within short order organized and streamlined the work so it only took an hour or two a day.
In the Army, there isn’t any free time permitted, so I was asked to also cover for the legal clerk as he went on vacation. Again, after a couple of days, organized and streamlined the work to only take an hour or two per day. At this point figured out to appear busy (carrying a clipboard was often enough) whenever my sergeant was around – to avoid additional tasks). When the mail and legal clerks returned from vacation then found they had new roles in the personal department and didn’t sort mail or clerk legal documents. I was considered unreasonable in even attempting to master one of these roles, and ‘insane’ to do both. From my point of view it was something to learn, something to provide a challenge, and after a little organization enjoyed both roles.
Unreasonable about MTBF
Those that know my work toward the eradication of MTBF know me as unreasonable. I want the world to stop using MTBF. I think it will be better for our profession and for our clients or coworkers. See the nomtbf.com site for more information. The site is hosting an average of 1,000 visitors a month.
At a large meeting of volunteer leaders in ASQ, we were asked to consider how to create programs that would provide value to our organization (I was part of the ASQ Reliability Division’s leadership at the time.) The idea to support those preparing for the CRE exam came up. Then a raft of objectives and perceived obstacles. So, using the hotel’s wifi connection and my laptop, created the creprep.wordpress.com site. We are close to 100 essays or tutorials on a wide range of topics from which calculator to use, to how to best study, which references to learn, and short tutorials on specific CRE Body of Knowledge topics. The site is enjoying just over 750 visitors a month.
None of these happened without effort, which is understandable. Does this make me unreasonable? Doing something for the fun of it, for the challenge or out of curiosity, does that make one unreasonable?
I don’t really care what others think (too much) if I stay true to helping others, learning something along the way, what I do will remain fun.
Reliability engineering is fun and it doesn’t take an unreasonable person to master the profession. We bring unique techniques to design and maintenance teams in an effort to make products or equipment last long (or long enough). We can change the world by making reliability happen – sometimes that is at cross purpose with other goals in an organization. That challenge is ok and at times frustrating, yet stay unreasonable and focus on being a reliability engineer that brings value to every task. Slowly we can change the world to one with high-reliability products and high availability equipment.
Please comment on how you are working to be unreasonable (how are you changing the world?)
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