Prepping for Turnaround – Tip #279

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Turnaround can mean many things to many people.  For some, they hear the first two lyrics of Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse Of The Heart.  Others may think of a dance move while still others may consider it to be the financial recovery of an economy.

I’ll be using none of those definitions for our purposes.

For me, the term turnaround calls to mind a scheduled stoppage of work in an operations facility like a refinery or other industrial plant.  These stoppages – complete shutdowns of facilities that are accustomed to running 24/7/365 – are very purposeful for the upgrade and repair or replacement of equipment and are planned many months (if not years) in advance.  These are often multi-million-dollar events as production completely stops, contractors are hired to supplement the existing workforce and the equipment itself has to be purchased.  It is a big bet that the turnaround will lead to longevity and potentially greater production for the plant.  This bet cannot be left to change.

You can understand how something this costly and significant takes an enormous amount of planning and when you’re talking about an elephant this big, there is only one way to eat it – one bite at a time.  If you don’t break a turnaround down into smaller projects and tasks, you can be sure the event will be doomed to fail, costing much more than originally projected.

Recently, I sat in on meetings where we spent a couple of days looking at nothing else but individual tasks that impacted the critical path – the sequence of activities that are set in stone and determine the length of the turnaround.  Line by line, we reviewed the items looking for inefficiencies and waste as well as items that could be done concurrently rather than sequentially, thus reducing the length of the turnaround.  This required those in the room to challenge this schedule and think differently about how to accomplish the work.

While you may not be working on a major shutdown and startup event, there is still the need to challenge ideas and consider how work may be accomplished.  Situation Expert provides a structure that can guide you through steps (utilizing over 25 thinking tools) helping your workgroups make better decisions as you explore your specific situation from a variety of perspectives.  Take a look at an example of Situation Expert in action as we considered the best way to approach our welding work.  How might this platform serve the needs of your workforce, helping them make better decisions, and leading to higher-impact outcomes?  Post your thoughts in the comments section below!


Jonathan Workman

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
“Helping Learners Learn Their Way”

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