Optimize Your Maintenance Success Journey with Quick Wins

Bill Keeter, BK Reliability
Tags: preventive maintenance, lubrication programs, maintenance and reliability

This article is a crossover from Machinery Lubrication's sister publication, Reliable Plant. You can catch Bill Keeter, along with many more experts and lubrication professionals from across the world, at Noria's 26th annual Reliable Plant & Machinery Lubrication Conference & Exhibition in Chicago, June 3- 6.


“A body remains at rest, or in motion at a constant speed in a straight line, unless acted upon by a force.” - Newton's First Law of Motion

Who Needs a Vision?

A business is much like a physical body. It has a life of its own with a trajectory and speed determined by its current state. The leader’s job is to change the trajectory and speed of the organization to meet the demands of the modern world’s ever-changing business environment.


Figure 1: Forces for Business Change
Creating a vision of the future marks the beginning of making change happen. It is the tool the leader uses to convey a clear message about where the organization is headed so that a good strategic plan can be developed. It creates pressure for change.

What Makes a Good Vision Statement?

Effective vision statements have ten common traits. They are:
  1. Future Focused – The vision should be focused five to ten years in the future. It is a forward look at what the leader wants the organization to be in the future.
  2. Directional – The vision should provide direction for the organization. It is all about where the organization needs to be in the future and the path it will take to get there.
  3. Clear – The vision needs to be clear and easy to understand at all levels of the organization.
  4. Relevant – A good vision is connected with the organization’s past, its current reality, and where it needs to be in the future.
  5. Purpose Driven – A good vision will clearly articulate the purpose of the organization. It lets everyone in the organization understand why the organization exists.
  6. Values-Based – A good vision is well connected to the core values of the organization. The values drive how members of the organization will interact with each other, and others outside the organization such as suppliers, customers, regulators, and the general public.
  7. Challenging – The vision should present a challenge or stretch goal for the organization that will help create innovation and drive for the members of the organization.
  8. Unique – The vision should stress what is unique about the organization. It should say what makes the organization different from others.
  9. Vivid – A well-crafted vision statement will paint a clear picture of what the organization will look like in the future.
  10. Inspiring – A well-conveyed vision will inspire members of the organization to use their energies to make the vision a reality. It should create impetus for action.

There are several benefits of effective vision statements, including:

  • Vision provides direction and helps the organization prepare for the future.
  • Vision guides decision-making.
  • Vision shapes the organization’s strategy.
  • Vision guides the types of people you hire and promote.
  • Vision defines what you will and what you will not do.
  • Vision helps set priorities and guides planning.
  • Vision aligns people and activities across the organization.
  • Vision provides the purpose and a source of inspiration.
  • Vision reflects an organization’s core values and beliefs.
  • Vision empowers people and helps focus their efforts.
  • Vision brings change and hope for the future.

The Role of the Strategic Plan

The leader can now work with a core team to create a strategic plan. The strategic plan is typically a three-to-five-year plan consisting of annual goals or targets that act as guides to drive the activities of the major parts of the organization. Each organization within the overall organization will develop annual goals congruent with the goals of the overall organization.

Figure 2: The Strategic Planning Process

What are OKRs?

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are a good way to achieve short-term wins for the organization as it moves toward achieving the vision. You can think of the vision as the long-term three to five-year objective for the organization. Each department in the organization would set up annual OKRs to achieve the vision, and each team within the departments would set up monthly to quarterly OKRs to support the department’s OKRs. Your organization could implement personal OKRs once it gains experience with the higher-level OKRs.

Figure 3: OKRs Drive the Organization



Objectives for OKRs should be:

  • A single sentence that is qualitative and inspirational — should not contain any quantitative measure such as "double", "triple", "100%"
  • Time-bound — monthly, quarterly, annually
  • Independently accessible and actionable by the team
Good Objective Statements Poor Objective Statements
  • Be the go-to supplier for industrial control products in the Southeast U.S.
  • Double the sales of industrial control products in the Southeast U.S.
  • Provide an awesome presentation at this year’s Reliable Plant conference
  • Present at this year’s Reliable Plant conference
  • Provide best in-class levels of uptime for our production equipment
  • Uptime of 90%

Table 1: Characteristics of Good Objective Statements


Key Results

Key results are the quantifiable evidence of meeting the objective. There are typically three, but there could be only one or up to as many as five.
Objective Key Results
Be the go-to supplier for industrial control products in the Southeast U.S.
  1. Place in the top five of presentation rankings.
  2. Receive congratulatory letters from 20% of presentation attendees.
  3. Be invited back to next year’s conference as the keynote speaker.

Table 2: Examples of Key Results

Notice that the key results are not in the form of outputs, but actual visible outcomes of the work. Focusing on outcomes means you are focusing on the short-term wins. The Key Result list should be rank-ordered from most to least important.
Key Results should be stretch goals. They shouldn’t be achievable in the time frame of the OKR by doing what you have always done. The Key Results should require a step up in organizational performance.

Some Considerations

  1. Do we have a baseline? You may have to measure something for a month or two before you are comfortable setting Key Results.
  2. How easy is it to measure?
  3. Is it a strong signal or a weak signal? How confident will you feel if this number is met? 
Beware of using the completion of some project or other as a Key Result. The outcome of the project could be desirable or undesirable.
What we are after is measures of outcomes. You will need to provide mentoring and coaching to your team members to get them focused on writing Key Results that are focused on outcome thinking rather than output thinking.

Managing OKRs

Things to keep in mind:

  1. OKRs are not for managing the day-to-day work of the organization. They are intended to drive change and innovation to achieve the vision for the future.
  2. Writing OKRs is not a silver bullet. It is important to remember that there will be hard work to be accomplished.
  3. There must be a constant focus on the OKRs. Accomplishing OKRs requires weekly goal setting and weekly review of the week’s results.
  4. The Key Results need to be stretch goals that can only be achieved by changing the way work is done.
  5. Completion of a project is not a Key Result. Projects should be designed to move the organization toward achieving the Key Results.
  6. Have a Friday Wins Session. Stretch goals mean that some of them won’t be met. Let the team members have a chance to brag a little about their wins. Do it late during the regular workday and provide snacks, etc. Don’t keep them overtime. They will have had plenty of opportunities for that during the week.
Take some time to get familiar with the tips outlined in this article for a boost to your maintenance and reliability success journey. Adopting a strategy that incorporates Objectives and Key Results can really help your organization achieve the quick wins aligned with your strategic goals while keeping stakeholders engaged.


  1. Ambler, George, Ten Characteristics of an Effective Vision Statement, 2013.
  2. Kotter, John P., Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World.
  3. Kotter, John P., Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World, Harvard Business Review Press, 2014.
  4. Harvard Business Review Press, 2014.
  5. Wodtke, Christina, Radical Focus: Achieving Your Most Important Goals with Objectives and Key Results, Second Edition, 2021.