Spreading new behaviours for capital project delivery at a national oil company

Spreading new behaviours for capital project delivery at a national oil company

Situation

An upstream business unit of a national oil company – with an extensive portfolio of field development and production operations – recognised that different departments were not communicating or collaborating sufficiently on capital project delivery, leading to delays in new production.

How we helped

The problem was initially attributed to the company’s organisational structure, which was firmly split along functional lines – reservoir engineering, production operations, drilling, project management, and so on – encouraging silo behaviours. To break these silos the company established cross-functional asset teams, bringing together staff members from different technical departments into a single team focused on optimising the life cycle of the asset as a whole.

However, the asset concept did not deliver the anticipated improvements in delivery time on capital projects. Indeed, in some instances, the team concept itself was found to be a cause of further delays, as team members sought approval from their technical line managers before agreeing to actions in the asset. It became apparent that the cultural norm of functional loyalty was so strong that it continued to rule over the lines and boundaries of the new organisational structure. To counter this, the company’s leaders approved a pilot that used pride builders to model certain behaviours – such as collaboration using critical decision making – that would unlock the potential of the assets. Using a recent field upgrade project as an example, a small group of cross-functional pride builders worked together to identify the sources and causes of delays along the development process. Their fact-based, forward-looking recommendations included adjusting process flows, clarifying roles and responsibilities, and defining a need to involve others earlier in the project. The clear cross-functional consensus of the team members compelled their managers and the others to make the change happen.

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Results

This effort demonstrated how changing a few critical behaviours can establish a mind-set of accepting change and continuous improvement. Modelling efficient behaviour, collaboration, and critical decision-making – especially when they lead to better outcomes – can build a workforce’s pride in the company. In this case, it provided the momentum to develop and implement the tools to formally ingrain an OE culture in the assets. And following the lessons learned from this initiative, the time to deliver similar projects has been considerably reduced.

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