The Need for PM at Home


I flew home from Chicago last night and my flight, as most others, was about 4 hours late (I presume due to wind, as it wasn't snowing). I got home and into bed at 2:30 AM. So, my night's sleep was already ruined.

But, to make it worse, I was done in by not replacing my smoke alarm batteries on a fixed “preventive maintenance” type schedule. The batteries on two smoke alarms, including the one in my bedroom, were “chirping” every 30 seconds or so, the “andon” that the battery needs replacing soon. Being 2:30 AM and all, my wife and I decided to just try to sleep through the chirping. The alternative was turning the lights on and getting a ladder out, not a good plan at 2:30 AM. Not a great nights sleep.

I have myself to blame on the lack of PM. You're supposed to change smoke alarm batteries every six months or every year, depending on who you listen to. My “root cause” fix is to put this on my calendar so Outlook reminds me to change the batteries BEFORE they go dead and the chirping starts during the night. Better to get the ladder out during the daytime and to change a battery earlier than needed. The battery cost isn't that much.

So, I need to practice what I preach: do preventive maintenance in a PLANNED and standardized way. Better to be proactive than waiting for something to “break down.” You might ruin more than a night's sleep (or two night's sleep if it's you and a spouse).

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Mark, I use the time change dates as my alarm batter PM schedule. This is recommended by local fire departments all over the country because twice each year we are reminded of important dates that something is going to change and we already have to physically change the clocks, so the smoke alarms fit right in. It works for me, anyway.


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