When a large part of your life has been spent sewing words together, words that form the palette you use to paint the images of the stories you tell… you pay a lot of attention to those words. You have to, especially when those words can have a profound impact on the world in which you operate every day.
Words tell stories and because they are often charged with powerful, yet sometimes subliminal meaning that can move people to or from: toward or away, they should and must be chosen carefully.
A great example of words that fit our current vehicle maintenance-focused dialogue here in Counter-Intuitive, words that have not been chosen carefully – at least, not in my opinion – is the word preventiveused in conjunction with the word maintenance to describe the services that must be performed on your car or truck to ensure the longest possible service life at the lowest possible cost.
While the term “Preventive Maintenance” makes perfect sense when you understand and appreciate its meaning: the two words used together are almost counter-intuitive themselves: antithetical, if you don’t!
It almost sounds as if someone is trying to prevent maintenance, rather than prevent the lack of maintenance that is the natural enemy of any machine. Properly defined, “preventive maintenance” is maintenance– scheduled and prescribed service – designed to help maintain the machine and prevent it from failing in service: prevent it from breaking down.
It would be safe to say that unless or until that is explained, the very folks who need to understand this message most, understand it least. And, yet, those of us in the repair community who bear the responsibility of communicating the importance of maintenance – use the term “preventive maintenance” all the time without giving a second thought or the slightest consideration to whether or not the very folks to whom this message is directed ‘get it’ or not.
Perhaps, a better term for this kind of service would be “Productive Maintenance.” At least, both words have positive connotations.
It makes more sense, doesn’t it?
We’re going to do something on your vehicle designed to produce the high expectation of a positive result – a dependable and well-maintained vehicle that lasts longer, costs less and doesn’t leave you stranded.
When you understand that you understand everything! You understand why it’s productive(in your best interest) to maintain(make something continue) your vehicle and you understand why some services are and can be more productive than others.
Words are the pigments we use to paint a picture of the world around us. They are the tools we use to frame that world: to make some kind of sense out of it.
Words and expressions that demand constant clarification, words and expressions that require constant explanation, are not representative of our best choices. They can’t paint the picture we want to paint. They can’t paint the picture we need everyone to see. The colors are wrong.
We need a new and different image and for that we’re going to need new and different colors: new and different words. Words that paint a better picture, tell a better story, like “Productive Maintenance” in place of “Preventive Maintenance.