Driving Behavioral Changes in Implementation Consulting
By Ivan Parra
As a professional in the Oil & Gas sector for more than three decades, I have participated in numerous initiatives involving consulting firms. I have experienced projects of many sizes and scopes from short-term to multi-year efforts. In recent years, I have seen the industry forward thinkers gravitate towards Implementation Consulting. Very well expressed in Trindent’s motto, we Make It Happen™.
As an Implementation Consultant, I have enjoyed the opportunity to do the “heavy lifting” for our clients addressing very specific and profitable opportunities. In today’s world, this implies a review of massive amounts of data, the fuel of transformation, both numerical and anecdotal as well as an in-depth look into the client’s processes and systems. Nonetheless, the challenge is, to use a well-worn phrase I first heard from a plant operator many years ago, data needs to be converted into useful, actionable information. In my thought process, I have added: “and the information needs to drive behavioral changes”.
In the absence of capital expenditures, major organizational changes or launching an all-encompassing software package, Implementation Consultants are faced with significant challenges. In my experience the most daunting is to persuade the client to take a fresh view of their operation, once root-causes, gaps and opportunities have been identified and shared by the consultant. Herein lies the first and most important strategy to achieve this objective: involve the client and encourage them to work side by side with the consultant team in the early stages to ensure ownership.
Driving Behavioural Changes in the Oil & Gas Industry
In the Oil & Gas industry, behavioral changes are particularly challenging. Rooted in tradition and with technology that hasn’t changed substantially since the early years of the industry, Oil & Gas operations are guided by policies and procedures that have experienced little variation, except for safety and environmental stewardship. With a culture that values seniority and experience, technological advances in data management and change in general, are difficult to implement. While the most important element of change – readiness to change, is invariably present, some of the barriers to change are significant and relapse is always a possibility.
Among the important factors for successful behavioral changes, and particularly the sustainability of those changes, the consultant must coach and guide the client to:
- Rethink and assess the risks of their current behaviors
- Ensure the client is ready and able to change
- Create self-awareness to identify and remove barriers to change
- Motivate teams to develop action plans and goals and communicate effectively
- Communicate and socialize the behavioral changes and reward attitude adjustments
- Reaffirm their commitments to change
Behavioral changes start at the top. Ensuring that managers and supervisors actively involve themselves in effecting change is paramount to the success of a behavioral change effort. In many instances, a detailed analysis of the manager’s activities will result in valuable findings that identify gaps and areas of attention and allow the formulation of strategies and action plans to close those gaps.
To sum up, awareness, involvement, and willingness to change are key factors in driving behavioral changes that have been powered by exhaustive data analysis, process, and systems evaluations and a clear understanding of the current and desirable future states.