The chicken or the egg causality dilemma stems from the observation that all chickens hatch from eggs and all chicken eggs are laid by chickens. "Chicken-and-egg" is a metaphoric adjective describing situations where it is not clear which of two events should be considered the cause and which should be considered the effect, to express a scenario of infinite regress, or to express the difficulty of sequencing actions where each seems to depend on others being done first. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_or_the_egg)
What am I talking about and what this has to do with asset management? Well, it has a lot to do. Let me explain.
The chicken is the “asset management system” and the egg is “value”. Do we develop our asset management system and be patient to realize value or do we just start measuring and reporting on value while hoping the existing system will continue to deliver? In many organizations we are observing that the focus is on “how to realize value” without focusing enough on developing and implementing the asset management system that would deliver value. It is taken for granted that the asset management system will happen by itself with the strategies, plans, technologies, and people in place. But let me tell you it is not going to happen on its own. Let’s not get our organization held up by the law of inertia. We need that extra outside force to cause the change, the transformation. We need to diligently act on the current system, and this is the most difficult part.
Implementing well developed strategies and plans in a chaotic environment is not going to be successful. It is going to be an inefficient way of spending time, effort, and money without significant progress. What we need is a more radical transformation to move to an effective asset management system to realize value.
Consider the seven requirements of an asset management system that must be dealt with as prescribed in the ISO 55000 suite of standards:
Make no mistake, building an asset management system is a very complex undertaking. It is an extremely daunting task especially when you place it in the context of your own organization, the prevailing culture and other challenges that come with it.
Is this the reason why we prefer to turn a blind eye to some of those requirements and instead focus on the easier tasks such as strategies, plans, tools, and technologies? Do we really have the desire to rattle the cage or just simply settle for the minimum? Do we want to just keep accepting the few eggs and let the chicken die or do we want to feed and nurture the chicken to reap more eggs for a longer time?
Asset management practitioners and organizational leaders – let’s be bold enough to rattle the cage and overcome the inertia. Dropping strategies, plans and tools on our laps in a chaotic environment is not going to cut it.
Implementing and operationalizing an effective asset management system is even trickier as it is embedded in a complex organizational system with complex people systems busy with their own specific activities and all surrounded with numerous ever-changing complex external systems.
To overcome the inertia and transform your organization to implement an effective asset management system, systems thinking is warranted. A chaotic or self-evolving approach will result in killing the chicken over time without having the opportunity to harvest maximum eggs for many years to come.
So what should be your focus – the chicken or the egg? I will leave it to you to decide.