We left off yesterday with a question regarding reinforcement. If reinforcement needs to happen as close to the desired behaviour as possible who is going to be in the best position to offer it? The obvious answer is the immediate supervisor.
Immediate Supervisor or Leader
Interestingly enough many companies tend to move that activity higher up the ladder without realizing it. Leaders who are responsible for small teams will often defer to their bosses when it comes to driving performance. This is not unusual as they are typically the least experienced leaders in the chain of command. If you step back and think about that for a minute you will see the conundrum. The least experienced leaders have the greatest opportunity to drive performance in a company.
You might see this as a problem but I see it as an opportunity. People who have just moved into leadership roles are often very keen to do a good job and (hopefully) have not developed any bad leadership habits. They are open to new ideas that will help them be more effective and often I tell them to run with a new idea before someone tells them it’s not possible.
Do It Before Someone Tells You It’s Not Possible
In one case crews working on a well-site completion were looking at ways to reduce maintenance intervals. There were several new leaders I had trained in operational excellence. When someone suggested that perhaps they could start maintenance as soon as a zone was finished (a potential safety hazard) they took a fresh look at the issue. Regulations called for a minimum of 2 layers of valve separation from the wellhead so opening up pumps for maintenance might cross that boundary. But if they rigged in a 3rd layer of valves that would address that safety concern. Maintenance could be started sooner and they would be ready for the next zone when it opened up with no need for a maintenance interval at all!
Let me be clear, they were not running with their "gut." They had teams that had already been collecting a lot of data on maintenance times and rig-in times and they knew that time spent rigging in one more layer of valves would more than make up in time saved in removing maintenance intervals. And yes the upper management had reservations - it had never been done that way before - but with their metrics and a solid plan they made a compelling argument. It wasn't just successful it was transformative. The client, who is at the pinnacle of the industry, had never seen a crew that could run 24 hours a day without maintenance intervals. They were breaking new ground in that industry!
Turning Problems Into Opportunities
The newest leaders, driving high performing behaviours and achieving industry changing innovation! What some senior leadership might be tempted to look at as a problem turned out to be a huge opportunity. That is what operational excellence is all about! Performance Leadership Think About It!