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Operational Control and Managing Change: The Integration of Nontechnical Skills With Workplace Procedures
- John Thorogood (Drilling Global Consultant LLP) | Margaret T. Crichton (People Factor Consultants Ltd)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Drilling & Completion
- Publication Date
- May 2013
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 203 - 211
- 2013. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 4 in the last 30 days
- 339 since 2007
- Show more detail
Some of the common pitfalls and problems associated with managing operations are discussed, with suggestions about how these can be addressed. Existing literature on human error, operational decision making, and industrial psychology is combined with the authors' experiences in researching these problems and working with operations teams. The nontechnical skills required to manage operations effectively are described together with the organizational structures and work processes that best support operations. Techniques for training teams and helping them to develop the competencies to manage operations safely and to deal with uncertainty are explained. Mindful that "proper planning prevents poor performance," engineers go to considerable lengths to create quality plans. A structured well-delivery process is followed, complete with peer reviews, risk assessments, and technical sign-offs. Deliverables include statements of requirements, basis-of-design documents, hazard identification (HAZID) sessions, drill-the-well-on-paper meetings, and a drilling program. Despite these preparations, teams make decisions during operations with sometimes costly consequences, especially when surprised by an unexpected event or when facing high levels of uncertainty. This problem is not unusual and typically occurs when a project team fails to prepare and actively manage its transition from planning to operations, and to anticipate the necessary change in the functions of the team. Planning and operations require completely different mindsets. The lack of preparation for this transition stems from a common assumption that the team that has performed the planning is more than capable of managing a dynamic operation effectively. Research has identified that two different modes are required--during the planning phase, teams produce a plan designed to solve a problem, whereas during operations the team has to manage a task requiring the ability to adapt dynamically to shifting demands of the situation. Effective operations management requires both a high degree of operational discipline and teams that are skilled in dealing with the unexpected and making decisions in time-constrained situations. These skills are not intuitive and must be taught, trained, practiced, and assessed. The protocols and decision rights must be clear, and the team must be trained so that it executes these functions in a fluent and competent manner. The oil industry lacks an international regulatory framework enjoyed by aviation. It lacks even basic standardization about how rigs are operated, wells are drilled, and operations are monitored. These are essential prerequisites for an environment within which a standardized operational discipline can be developed and implemented. The purpose of this paper is, therefore, to propose a framework for operational governance within which the development of nontechnical-skills training can be built.
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