Inducing the Investigative Process (includes associated papers 24108 and 24395 )
- Keith K. Millheim (Amoco Production Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- September 1991
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,132 - 1,139
- 1991. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 1.8 Formation Damage, 6.1.5 Human Resources, Competence and Training, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 4.6 Natural Gas, 5.6.4 Drillstem/Well Testing, 4.1.4 Gas Processing
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Summary. This paper deals with (1) reductionism and reductionistic thinking and how they inhibit the investigative process;(2) systems and systemic thinking, a way to induce the investigative process;(3) the commitment paradigm and how commitment level is a key ingredient for inducing the investigative engineering (IE) process; and (4) system dynamics, a practical way of leading the engineer from a predominantly reductionistic way of thinking to the experience of systemic thinking.
The first step in the induction process is to form a distinction between reductionist thinking and systems thinking. This paper, a sequel to "The New Engineering Paradigm and the Emergence of Investigative Engineering,"I shows how engineers, scientists, and others active in analytical disciplines are initially trained (starting as far back as junior high school) to embrace a reductionist cognitive process and how university and industry training and job experience reinforce and refine this way of thinking. This paper explains how reductionist thinking confuses the systemic cognitive process. As analytical thinkers, we all are, to some degree, captives of our training and history. Once a person or organization can see the level of reductionist thinking being practiced, it is easier to take the next step and develop a program that introduces the systemic way of thinking. The next section describes how the systemic cognitive process differs from the reductionist way of thinking and how the systems approach can lead to the investigative process. Numerous references are included to provide more details on systems and systemic thinking. The concept of dealing with mental models (paradigms)in a practical way comes from systemic thinking. The intellectual distinction that systems thinking can lead to the investigative process is usually not enough to induce a paradigm shift for an individual or organization to start the routine practicing of IEFor the shift to occur, the individual must be at a commitment level that leads the person and the organization to want to do the investigative process. This paper depicts the commitment paradigm and explains how it works for the individual and the organization. The practical insight from the understanding of this paradigm is that individuals or organizations can grade themselves on their degree of commitment. The last part of the paper introduces system dynamics, a discipline that practices systemic thinking in a way that naturally encourages the investigative process. This paper presents the basic concepts of system dynamics and introduces the use of the technology through a computer algorithm. An example systems analysis illustrates how system dynamics can be used to encourage systemic thinking. The overall purpose of this paper is to plant the seeds on how to start inducing the IE process. One could call this a part of the technology of doing technology.
"The New Engineering Paradigm and the Emergence of Investigative Engineering" presented a model (or paradigm) of engineering practices or, in a broader sense, of how engineers currently operate as an engineering community. The paper was slanted toward the engineering community in the E and P sectors of the oil business. The same reasoning, however, could describe an engineering paradigm in the aerospace, automotive, mining, marine, electrical, and other engineering communities. That first paper introduced the idea of IE as part of the current engineering paradigm: "IE is an engineering discipline that searches for new and innovative designs, practices, and techniques that have not been integrated into the standard practice of the organization." I speculated that very few individuals (maybe 1 in 10) possess the natural ability to do IEThe term "natural athlete" referred to those rare individuals who could. I also proposed that the investigative experience could be learned by engineers who do not possess an instinctive investigative inclination. Since I presented that paper at the 1988 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in Houston, the interest in this subject has continued to grow. I have been invited many times to present the same talk, and an expanded version, and to participate in round-table discussions on the engineering paradigm and IE. In all my discussions, the question most commonly asked is, "How can we induce the IE process in our organization?" This question leads to other provocative questions:What is the value of encouraging the practice of IE? How much IE should an organization do? How is IE managed? How does IE fit into the structure of a company? How are IE results measured?
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