Knowledge management

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Managing Knowledge Management

Oil and gas companies have varied approaches to sharing knowledge. Experts from six E&P companies discuss experiences in establishing knowledge-management infrastructures—what they’ve learned to date and what the future may hold.

PARTICIPANTS: Erik Åbø Statoil Stavanger, Norway Lesley Chipperfield Shell International E&P Rijswijk, The Netherlands ChrisMottershead BP Sunbury on Thames, England John Old Texaco Houston, Texas, USA Rodulfo Prieto Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) Caracas, Venezuela Jeff Stemke Chevron San Ramon, California, USA MODERATOR: Reid Smith Houston, Texas
For help in preparation of this article, thanks to Denny O’Brien and Justin Rounce, Sugar Land, Texas, USA. Lotus Domino, QuickPlace and SameTime are marks of Lotus DevelopmentCorporation. Microsoft Project and NetMeeting are marks of Microsoft Corporation. SiteScape is a service mark of SiteScape, Inc.

Moderator, Reid Smith, Vice President, Knowledge Management, Schlumberger: Many companies develop knowledge management programs in response to key issues or a particular event within the organization. What business drivers are behind your knowledgemanagement efforts,and what are your companies trying to achieve through knowledge management? Lesley Chipperfield, Manager of Organizational Performance, Shell International E&P: Our start in knowledge management began with the major reorganization of Shell in late 1995 and early 1996 when we started transitioning from a group of globally dispersed companies that were not linked to a globally connected company.Before that, the companies didn’t talk directly to each other, and if they did, it was through service companies. Reorganization mandated that we do things differently and required a cultural shift. Many of the initiatives to start sharing knowledge were kicked off in 1996 and 1997. Management recognized that good things were happening and, in 1998, my group was formed to pull together thesedivergent, entrepreneurial knowledge-management efforts, which had actually fragmented us. Trying to leverage best practices helped establish our current direction. Chris Mottershead, Technology Vice President, Lower Carbon Growth, Global Business Center, BP: BP started knowledge management in the drilling organization in 1992 or 1993 with training and learning. The average driller must make quickdecisions “on the go” and has considerably more personal accountability sooner than other disciplines. As a result, drillers seem more willing to ask for and accept help, and they are particularly receptive to new ideas. Like other companies, our organization was no longer centralized. People couldn’t perform well unless they could engage their peers and get help that previously arrived withauthority from the corporate office. They had to share information. In 1994 and 1995, we started evaluating how to improve virtual teamworking (VT). A camera on every desk let you see the person you were talking and working with long distance. In the North Sea, we established pilot VT programs within business units like the Miller field area. Initially, the objective was to improve onshore and offshorecommunication. In the Andrew field business unit, we used VT to connect the various disparate activities of multiparty construction projects. Then, we connected the executive managers in our worldwide upstream business through VT to avoid regional isolation. This was remarkably successful, but once we got a global organization going, this type of hardware wasn’t needed anymore. Outside BP, knowledgemanagement seemed to be grounded more in lessons-learned databases, which consisted of information that no one really wanted, hidden away in computer files that very few people knew how to access. We created a knowledge-management team in 1995 or 1996. Our chief executive thought knowledge management was important and still does, so it received much attention. For about two

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