Abstract

This paper describes the methods derived from several of the current management publications which the Oil and Gas Operations Branch of BP Resources Canada Limited used to enhance its profits. The most significant source of management methods and principles originated from the publication "In Search of Excellence" and the follow-Up publication "A Passion for Excellence". This paper presents the background, implementation, frustrations, successes, and the future of the initiatives undertaken during the last two to three years.

Introduction

We are all inundated with information through books, media, courses, etc. Our challenge is to effectively implement what we read and learn. This paper describes the frustrations, successes and difficulties that we experienced in the Oil and Gas Operations Branch of BP Resources in the last three years during the process of implementing concepts and principles extracted from managerial books and papers (References 1–9). What I would like to leave the reader with is an appreciation for the need to:

  • read extensively about business, and not just the oil business or North American business,

  • constantly extract ideas that are applicable,

  • carefully and sensitively implement those ideas at a pace people can cope with, and

  • discard or alter an idea that has been implemented but has not been effective. What I am really talking about is leadership.There have been an almost infinite number of definitions for leadership.

My preference (due to its simplicity and accuracy) is the definition by Peters and Waterman(1), who defined leadership as having three components: pathfinding, decision making and implementing. Pathfinding is vision. Vision comes from a broad base of experience and reading. Decision-making ability is developed throughout our educational and professional lives. Implementation, in my opinion, is management's weakest element of the three components. Many an expansive idea or vision foundered due to lack of skillful implementation. This paper is mainly about implementation.

Background

In 1985 a number of changes were introduced in the Oil and Gas Division of BP Resources. I heard that much of what was being initiated was based on Peters and Waterman's "In Search of Excellence". When I read this book, it had a profound impact on me. I realized that the difference between excellent organizations and mediocre organizations is that excellent organizations implement fundamental leadership principles (Creech's laws(2)), while mediocre companies give them lip service. After "In Search of Excellence" I read management and leadership books extensively, but the message was basically the same. I realized there was nothing much more to learn from the Japanese than from excellent organizations In North America and the Western World. What I had been taught in previous management courses about the "fundamentals" of management (Figure 3) was inadequate, if still necessary, I was anxious to implement what I had read.

Implementation

The following is a chronological list of "events" that reflect the implementation of fundamental leadership principles, implementation of fundamental leadership principles, Note how these events are consistent with Creech's laws. The specifics of the initiatives we implemented are not important to this paper.

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