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Is there a ’Stairway to Asset Management Heaven?’
Abstract

Is there a ‘Stairway to Asset Management Heaven’? Since the late 1980s maintenance and asset
management managers and consultants have used the DuPont Chemicals „Stable Domain‟ asset
management model to describe the steps to world-class operational performance. From its
beginning companies and consultants made the incredible presumption that it is right and tried to
use it to improve business performance. The model‟s veracity is scrutinised. It does not work
for all situations and so is not a model to heartily follow but a theory to deeply question.

Keywords: asset management model, stable domain theory,

The Stable Domain Model of Figure 1 results from DuPont Chemicals mid-1980‟s research into
the variable performances in their world-wide operations1. Responding to increased international
competition DuPont investigated what to do to lower their production costs. They reviewed their
150-plus operations world-wide and found businesses making comparable products in
comparable plants with results ranging from „dogs‟ to „stars‟. Analysis of the reasons for the
erratic results led to creation of the Stable Domain Model to explain the performance. It has
since been misguidedly referred to as Enterprise Asset Management‟s „Stairway to Heaven‟2.

Figure 1 – The DuPont Stable Domain Model for Asset Management.

The model was imbued with the requirements listed in Figure 2 that were necessary for a stable
domain. Naturally managers and consultants concluded that a company had only to adopt the
„necessary‟ practices and it would then morph to that level of performance3. The model was used
in DuPont with great short-term success but improvement was not self-sustaining. The current

1
Hutnich, Robert, „Maximising Operational Efficiency Course’, 2004, E.I. DuPont de Nemours Co
Page J., Plant R.,, „Stairway to Heaven‟, Led Zeppelin IV album, 1971
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Ledet, Winston., ‘Making the Move Toward a Learning Organization: A Classic Journey of Change’, Ledet Enterprises, 2002
C:\Users\Mike\Documents\Lifetime Reliability\LRS Maintenance Methodology\Stairway_to_Asset_Managment_Heaven.docx 1

With the model listing the „necessary‟ requirements for achieving excellence.com Website: www. They constructed audit questionnaires in total confidence that the Stable Domain Model held the 4 Ledet. Email: info@lifetime-reliability. Without independent proof opportunity-driven consultants and industrial companies saw DuPont‟s early success and quickly adopted the model as being good asset management strategy. More assumption was that attaining the stated requirements for each level would make an organisation into such a performer. culminating in the „commercial heaven‟ of world-class performance. An implied direct pathway between domains that can be traversed from lower to higher was assumption. requiring continued support of a devoted corporate leadership and on-going financial liability to sustain business processes. The model unfortunately showed a direct pathway from one level to the next. Presentations of idealistic strategy showing the necessary attributes and methodologies to become world-class. consultants world- wide also began using it to audit companies‟ maintenance and asset management performance. organisations assumed the „Stairway to Heaven‟ was a matter of adopting learnable practices and using the appropriate systems. tools and software. because there was no scientific proof.lifetime-reliability.docx 2 .com view is the domains are not naturally stable4. like Figure 3. Irrationally. wrongly assuming it represented a sure path to world-class results and a solution to industry‟s‟ operational performance problems. 2005 C:\Users\Mike\Documents\Lifetime Reliability\LRS Maintenance Methodology\Stairway_to_Asset_Managment_Heaven. were shown to trusting corporate management. Winston et al. Figure 2 – Stable Domain Model with Business System Requirements. skills and knowledge. „Modeling Sustainable Organizational Change Why did change at BP Lima sustain while the change at DuPont faded away?’ Ledet Enterprises.

and absurdly stated that “this is where your business is today and here is how you get to the next level of performance tomorrow”. From the audit responses they plotted company positions on the model.com right answers. Email: info@lifetime-reliability.docx 3 .com Website: www.lifetime-reliability. Figure 3 – Stable Domain Model with Assumed Required Competencies and Methodologies Figure 4 – Stable Domain Model was Assumed Suitable for Auditing Purposes C:\Users\Mike\Documents\Lifetime Reliability\LRS Maintenance Methodology\Stairway_to_Asset_Managment_Heaven. like that shown in Figure 4.

Perth.docx 4 . Making the skills.com The Stable Domain Model is wobbly and shaky..com 5 Blom. There are companies that tried it and found it unworkable5.com Figure 5 – Process Reliability and Quality Excellence Asset Management „Model‟ The „theory‟ proposes that to move from one level of reliability performance to the next you introduce the processes and practices needed to achieve that level of reliability. but the reliability that will result is clear to everyone. Australia C:\Users\Mike\Documents\Lifetime Reliability\LRS Maintenance Methodology\Stairway_to_Asset_Managment_Heaven. You change your life-cycle business processes to create better processes with fewer quality failures. In this „theory‟ each „domain‟ is truly stable because companies already produce products. by so doing they learn what to do. The „theory‟ helps clarify what is required at each level of excellence and what will happen when you get there. Neil. In this „theory‟ you can even „jump‟ straight to world-class asset management by copying a world-class quality performer. There is an alternate „theory‟ of how to get to world-class reliability performance.lifetime-reliability. At best it is a theory to be tested and improved and not a model to be used with unquestioned acceptance and belief. It is based on achieving levels of reliability and quality excellence. ‘Asset Management – Quo Vadis (Where to next)’. Email: info@lifetime-reliability.lifetime-reliability. or their working limits are surely known. September 2009. utilities and services at each level of excellence without requiring additional and continual inputs from management. how to do it and how well it must be done to become the company they want to be. and theories need to be tested and not believed until proven true. Asset Management Council Seminar. cultural and business process changes needed will be hard work and initially expensive. Perfecting Your Quality and Reliability Processes www. Mike Sondalini www. Figure 5 shows the „Process Reliability and Quality Excellence Asset Management Theory‟.lifetime-reliability. However this is just theory.com Website: www. This „theory‟ guides companies to model those much better than themselves.