Oil & Gas Offshore: Leading from the top… is it enough on its own?

I know that we have only just started November but has anyone noticed that the shops are already starting to fill up on Christmas paraphernalia? I went to see my family in the Westcountry this week and already my Mother was getting out the lights!

Now, there is nothing more frustrating than that moment when all the lights you have just spent hours untangling go off at once. You just know that it is all because just one of the bulbs has come loose! One weak link and the whole thing can fail. Arggh!!

I bet right now you are thinking how on earth does this link to anything in the offshore oil and gas industry? Bear with me I have a point – and I hope it’s a good one!

Anyway, I am thinking about this on the train back to London right now and without getting too philosophical, series circuits (such as the ones in those dreaded lights) can be seen in the same light (excuse the pun) as the make up of any organisation, oil and gas companies included. And this could be a problem or it could be a good thing.

I am referring to the notion of Leading from the Top.

A favourite phrase from the HSE, it is something that senior management across the industry are really taking to heart. And the logic is clear, just like a series circuit, if the next level up is firing on all cylinders and pushing through safety initiatives those lower down the chain will behave accordingly. Right?

Yes, most of the time.

And that’s where the potential problem is, if there is a weak link and someone becomes disengaged, will that have an impact on the performance on their subordinates? If the responsibility is being taken from the ‘top down’ do we run the risk of have a bought in management but disengaged production personnel?

And since the guys at the coal face are the one’s in danger could this approach be a little one sided? Maybe as well as Leading from the Top initiatives there needs to be a more solidified Leading from the Bottom policy laid out? More in parallel than series?

After all, those are the people with the most recent practical experience? And it’s their lives that are on the line…

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