Updated May 27th, 2020

PinnacleART’s water and wastewater experts Director of Water Services, Paul Hughes and Solutions Analyst, Laura Hudson, spent a week alongside like-minded professionals from across the globe sharing knowledge, bringing together ideas, and exploring the impact of innovation on the future of water in the beautiful headquarters of the American Water Works Association (AWWA), Denver, Colorado!

Established in 1881, the American Water Works Association is the largest nonprofit scientific and educational association dedicated to managing and treating water, one of the world’s most important resources. With over 50,000 dedicated members, AWWA strives to provide solutions to improve public health, protect our environment, strengthen our economy, and enhance our overall quality of life.

The AWWA Annual Conference and Exhibition (ACE) annually unites over five thousand water and wastewater professionals for a conference featuring special events, exhibitions, networking opportunities, a young professionals program, award winning competitions, keynote presentations, and a professional program. This year’s professional program delivered over one hundred presentations led by industry leaders. Highlight topics included asset management; water utility management and leadership; and stakeholder engagement and communications.

Changing Workforce Culture to Improve Reliability

PinnacleART was proud to be a part of the professional program, debuting the presentation, “Changing Workforce Culture to Improve Reliability” as a part of the water utility management and leadership track.

Within the presentation, PinnacleART’s Solutions Analyst, Laura Hudson, and PinnacleART partner Bob Donaldson, CEO & Founder of Collaborative Strategies Consulting Inc, discussed how in today’s water and wastewater industries, reliability is not only essential for physical assets like equipment, but for human assets as well. By developing a reliable workforce structured around the psychology of collaboration, you can create an extremely successful workforce.

For example, the presentation discussed how Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM)—which delivers a set of reliability-based, proactive tasks, focused on sustaining functionality of systems and equipment—can jumpstart a change in workforce culture. RCM leads to culture change because it prioritizes collaborative behavior between all workgroups and requires an experienced facilitator.

The presentation also included a client’s perspective of the benefits to changing the workforce culture to improve reliability, outlined key components to create cultural change, and gave attendees tools to improve collaboration and communications between groups in order to eliminate the silo mentality that often exists among departments.

As a takeaway from the presentation, Bob and Laura offered, “Top 10 Leader-Manager Performance Expectations.”

Top 10 Leader-ManagerPerformance Expectations

Emulate the behaviors you want from others

Protect and promote culture

Keep the group focused on the mission and values at all times

Support decision making and problem solving

Build technical competency by providing more training

Teach and promote all productivity behaviors

Encourage the group to innovate new ideas for success

Give important feedback to enhance improvements in performance

Continually make observations of examples of good performance

On a daily basis, implement all of the above at every opportunity

From “Changing Workforce Culture to Improve Reliability,” presented at AWWA ACE19 by Bob Donaldson, CEO & Founder of Collaborative Strategies Consulting Inc. and Laura Hudson, PinnacleART Solutions Analyst

Interested in learning more? To receive a copy of presentation or to connect with Laura and Bob, click here.

Hot Topics at the Exhibition

In addition to the professional program, PinnacleART took part in the exhibition, which hosted over 470 exhibitors. As our team mingled with the crowd, they noticed trends in challenges for which attendees were searching for answers.

A few of the most common questions our team encountered included the following:

Q: I am new in my position and oversee creating an Asset Management program for my facilities. Where do I begin and where do you recommend starting?

We’ve heard this question at every water tradeshow we have attended so far this year. Because we’ve heard it before, we have provided an answer in our blog, Water Conference Recaps – April 2019, however, we also wanted to highlight the value of beginning with an assessment of your current state.

One of the first steps we recommend is to partake in a Maintenance and Reliability Practice Assessment to review elements such as current leadership; planning and scheduling practices; equipment reliability technology utilization; key performance indicators; CMMS; continuous improvement; knowledge and document management; materials management; and project management.

Each of these elements can be customized as needed to align with internal best practices in order to measure gaps. As a result, improvement opportunities can be identified. These opportunities include action items, responsible roles, resource requirements, and return-on investment. Our assessments aim to sustain improvement, taking input as fact, to ensure that findings lead to solutions.

For additional information, check out the following resources:

Discussion on Assessments

Keys to Success: How to Design and Use Effective Reliability and Integrity Program Assessments to Drive Sustainable Improvements

PinnacleART and Solomon Associates Strategically Partner to Bring Comprehensive Asset Performance Management Assessments to Energy and Chemical Industries


Q: How can I justify a reliability-driven asset management program within my organization?

Poor reliability culture, lack of buy-in from management or front-line workers, and other program foundations can be difficult to overcome when trying to justify new program. At PinnacleART, we understand how frustrating these issues can be and can recommend a variety of solutions to sustaining high overall performance within your organization. A great place to start is by utilizing the following five-step process (featured in our webinar, Five Steps to Justify Reliability Improvement Initiatives) to gain buy-in from not only your decision makers but from your organization as a whole:

  1. Reflect on your purpose
  2. Measure your opportunities
  3. Connect value to your solutions
  4. Sustain top performance
  5. Build a roadmap to success

In the webinar, Lewis Makin, Senior Solutions Engineer, says:

“Gaining buy-in can be a challenge, especially if you are in not in a decision-maker role. To begin, ask yourself how does your company measure success? Do you understand your main core KPIs that you are trying to drive? At the end of the day, if you don’t have that understanding, then how are you going to drive towards showing that improvement?

You need to define your goal post. What is your current state and what are you driving towards? If you don’t have a clear understanding of where you are and where you are trying to get to, then what are you doing the initiative for? This is where we recommend benchmarking. Once you define your start and end-point, you can begin to build your roadmap…”

Learn more in the webinar: Five Steps to Justify Reliability Improvement Initiatives

All in all, PinnacleART values being a member of AWWA and we look forward to continuously connecting, learning, and creating with others to benefit the future of our water and wastewater industries.

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