Life has been no end entertaining lately. Not just for me but for everyone is touched in any way by the seafood industry. In my case, it is plain because I like to eat seafood. Period. Politics is getting in the way of good project management.
The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has proved to me that the following project management situations have played out in the gulf.
- The first is that shortcuts never work long term. When BP bought Amoco, Amoco had the worst safety record of any oil company operating at the time. It took a long time but look where we are. We are up a creek without the proverbial paddle. Anyone with the brain power given to a flea knew that deep water drilling had the potential to be dangerous to people and the environment and the potential risks required careful and diligent oversight. It is critical to take the time to ensure that the process works and results can be demonstrated long term. Brazil is going to be drilling deeper than this well. Lessons learned! Anyone?
- The second is that speedy decisions aren’t always the right decisions. 30 days to approve a lease for deep water drilling – the politicians that approved that should be held as accountable as BP for the pure and utter stupidity of that decision. When Eric Holder announced the Department of Justice investigation, he should have included current and past politicians that put the current law in place. At a minimum, they are guilty of criminal negligence. It is more important to make good decisions that to make quick decisions.
- The third is that ego is more important that doing what is right. I did something that I don’t do often and watched The View this morning. Elisabeth Hasselbeck says organizations can find the solution to the oil spill better than government. BP is doing so well. Oops! I was being facetious. I guess that she forgot BP is an organization. Ego is what got us to this place. The ego of business people who believe that there are no risks to their decisions, the ego of politicians that are more interested in getting elected that doing what will protect the environment, the ego of lobbyists who park their morals at the door in the interest of the almighty dollar (or currency of choice), the ego of reporters who spend more time finding problems that helping find solutions, …. and so on and so on. To fix this, it must be a partnership. This partnership must put all personal agendas aside and find a solution. We know the problem; it is time to focus on a solution. Nitpicking will get us more Hasselbecks who will be more interested in finger pointing and justifying old wounds than problem solving the current situation. Anyone with a potential solution can add a comment and I’ll forward them to a colleague who is compiling a list of solutions.
- The fourth is ‘who the hell is in charge? I want to know. Who is the project manager? Why aren’t they doing their job? What is the risk management strategy? Is there a schedule? Who is managing the vendors? Why is there no communication management plan?
To Admiral Allen, when you referred to yourself as an unlikely admiral, I am not sure that was a compliment. You need to haul this ship around and get the crew, all of them from whatever organization they report to, on the deck for a literal chewing out. You need to define roles, responsibilities and accountabilities. You must publish a schedule of events and put the people assigned to do the work out in front communicating with the world. This isn’t US disaster, this is a global disaster. BP isn’t just polluting the Gulf of Mexico. The currents will carry this oil around the globe.
To Tony Hayward, suck it up. Your life won’t change. You’ll still have a bank account that will allow you to hide out in Brazil (can’t be extradited from there). I would like to remind you that BP Amoco, between 1989 and 1999, held the dubious honour of 5th, 9th, 18th and 22nd places as the highest toxic polluters in the US. Why didn’t you take action before now? It isn’t the first time your company has been in this situation and fighting regulation all the way to the bank. Hire a project manager, give them the authority to get the job done and get out of the way. This must be a corporate initiative not a set of politically expedient decisions.
To US Congress and US Senate, fix the legislation and processes that got the world here. Anything less is unacceptable, immoral and unethical.
My thought for the week is “What do real world politics, project management and problem finders have in common?” Just about everything.