Inspectioneering Journal

The Importance of Utilizing a Process, Plan, and Certified Inspection Personnel Within Your Turnaround Team

Avoid the Success Delusion

By James "Chezo" Cesarini, PE, Founder and CEO at Pro-Surve Technical Services, LLC. This article appears in the November/December 2021 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.


The position of Turnaround Manager at a facility is very much like that of an NCAA Division 1 football coach. Hear me out…

There are a fixed number of Turnaround Manager positions available across the industry (league). There are even fewer experienced personnel qualified to fill them. The typical Turnaround Manager job description contains the “politically correct equivalent” requirements and characteristics that include but are not limited to adrenaline junkie, having attention deficit (for multi multi-tasking of course) and being somewhat of an egocentric. These are highly stressful jobs that require tireless preparation and planning prior to the main event (outage, or game). Much is evaluated from history (both in plans and film). And much is expected from upper management from the next event, when compared to the previous event. This is what we call the pursuit of “continuous improvement,” to achieve “world class” results.

When the lights go on and the players show up to execute, all eyes are on you to lead your team through a successful event (victory). You can sometimes feel their breath passing across the back of your neck during the action. Few win, many lose; most end up singing the blues. Because when having a “successful” event is the expectation, achieving such a feat is, after all, expected. And with all the variables in play – people, plans, performance, projections – rarely do all success requirements line up, thereby presenting you with the high percentage of underperforming. Your event may be completed on time, possibly on budget, hopefully without injury, and maybe even start up leak free. But rarely do all expectations succeed together, during the same event. That is why it is so wonderful to win a championship, to have a successful turnaround event - everything must fall into place.

Successful managers (coaches) are applauded, possibly rewarded. Winners move to larger facilities (universities, professional ranks) with more responsibility and pay (contracts). Non-winners stay for another season or work their way to smaller facilities hoping for better success. They seek (forced or not) change. Change is unavoidable for them if they want to achieve success. For those in this category, they probably see themselves as the salmon in the referenced photo (Reference Figure 1). For those in the successful category, you may see yourself as the bear. If so, take caution! You may want to see yourself also as the salmon; and avoid the "Success Delusion" – trying to resist change [1].

Figure 1. Are you a salmon or a bear?
Figure 1. Are you a salmon or a bear?

Realize that:

What got you here will not get you there.

Winners do not just show up to play the game, they plan, and plan, and plan. Preparation before perspiration. Why do winners look calm in the heat of the battle (think Nick Saban)? Because generally, they are executing the well-prepared plan that they developed well before the whistle blows or the oil is taken out of the process. Provided everyone is performing according to plan, progress is made as expected, and the projection along the way is a victory. The reason they are on the sidelines is to take any countermeasures should a part of the plan breakdown; immediate course correction is required to get victory back on track. Change is required. But, as they say, the devil is in the details; and that starts with a well thought out plan. Three key ingredients to being successful (sticking to our business now – no more football analogies) are the following:

  • Utilize the best process – standardize the work scope package used to include a workflow process.
  • Utilize the best plan – create Inspection Test Plans for each item in the work scope.
  • Utilize the best personnel – properly train and certify your inspection personnel.

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Comments and Discussion

Posted by Greg Garic on January 19, 2022
Nice article. GG Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

Posted by James Cesarini on January 19, 2022
Thank you Greg. All the best. Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

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