OEUK news

A champion for change: Q&A with Steve Phimister

3 June 2019

Q: Tell us a bit about what you’ve done in your role as Cultural Change Champion for the industry since you were appointed?

A: We are not starting from scratch, there are already many diverse business-change journeys under way in the industry to improve cost efficiencies, productivity and margins – these are driving a range of interactions between operators, joint ventures, the supply chain and the regulator. But we want to make this more consistent across the industry.

We started out by talking with about 30 industry leaders – operators, supply chain and other key stakeholders and influencers. We wanted to hear diverse views and experiences of collaboration and cultural change, to understand how leaders see the gaps in their own companies and across the industry, and to explore examples of good and poor practices.

Desktop work identified the tools, resources and learnings that are available outside our industry, to help us move further forward. From this, we settled on a small number of key action areas to help accelerate the collaborative culture we want on the UK Continental Shelf. We are keen to tackle things somewhat differently to how it has been done in the past, in an effort to have a more sustained impact on industry performance. Our action areas are targeted at meaningful behavioural change, strong leadership and open sharing and learning from one another.

Q: What can you tell us about these key action areas?

A: One immediate action we have taken is to develop Area Plan Behavioural Guidelines. These have been written by industry, for industry, specifically through a behavioural lens. They don’t describe processes or stage-gate information and they are not a regulatory requirement. Instead, they describe how we should behave with one another to get the best outcome from area planning. We chose to focus on area plans because they are current and of real importance to delivering the MER UK strategy.

The Oil and Gas Authority’s Guidance on Area Plans provides us with the process framework, key objectives and expectations for developing Area Plans. Our industry Behavioural Guidelines are complementary to this, containing practical advice and real-life experiences in applying the right behaviours to how we work together in developing the plans. Mapped to the eight critical behaviours described in the CBQT (Collaboration Behaviour Quantification Tool), the guidelines aim to set participants up for success by sharing best practices and signposting relevant tools and resources. All three documents complement each other and should be read together. The focus now is to ensure that the guidelines are actively being used by industry.

The critical role that industry managing directors (MDs) have agreed to play – operators and supply chain alike – is to actively champion these guidelines and ensure their broad use within their organisations. Given the behavioural focus, the industry guidelines are not only applicable to area planning but also to any form of interaction between industry players. Our supply chain is a valuable source of expertise that can help deliver the necessary step-change in performance that we need – so I strongly encourage their proactive engagement and timely input.

Another key action area focuses on leaders openly sharing and learning from one another so that we can all improve. We are taking a structured approach and ensuring that our interactions are data/fact-based. We are using data and surveys to understand who is good at what and then structuring conversations between MDs without using KPIs, league tables, or being judgmental!

Recently, we used the output from the 2017 Deloitte Supply Chain Survey to have a deeper conversation with the MDs from 13 of the participating operators. With the aim of deriving maximum value from the data we already have, we shared our results with one another and talked about the systemic areas where, as operators, we need to improve. Participants helped to stimulate round-table discussion by sharing their how. Learning from one another through proactive sharing is just one example of a different way of working.

The commitment other industry leaders and I is to take the discussions further and implement positive change in behaviours in our respective companies. As MDs, we are committed to continuing these interactions between leaders and our teams. We will broaden the conversation with supply chain companies and, later this year, we plan to hold a similar MD-to-MD session using, for example, CBQT outcomes.

Sharing best practice is a broader action area for us in 2018. Initially, we will focus on organisational and human resource aspects: describing the right collaborative behaviours and emphasising their importance within our organisations. Specifically, we are interested in how best to develop these behaviours in our teams, how we measure them, how we reward the right behaviours and, conversely, how we tackle and remove poor behaviours? There are companies in our basin with clear policies, processes and structures that reinforce the development and support of strong collaboration skillsets and behaviours – we can all learn from these colleagues to help improve performance across the basin. But above all, this is an area where strong leadership is required to set expectations and follow-through with our organisations. Similarly, we will be building case studies through 2018 and 2019 with the intent to share best collaborative practice. This offers rich potential to learn about and replicate good outcomes across every part of our industry.

The final focus area is ensuring that collaboration is visible as a key enabler of Vision 2035. Oil & Gas UK is further developing the strategic roadmap to describe the what and how of the work we need to collectively deliver to attain that vision.

Q: What does this all mean for the future?

A: Our focus is on a blend of diversity, vision, processes, practices, systems and leadership – but above all, behaviours. The future success of the industry is going to be influenced greatly by the culture of the industry, and therefore by our commitment to drive behavioural change. I encourage everyone to identify, and own, the part they can play in realising this future – familiarise yourself with our plans and with the guidelines to help us deliver the enabling behaviours.

We’re seeing some really positive signs and collectively we can build on this, continuing to innovate and collaborate to increase investment in the basin and deliver value to all.

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