Communications, Promotion, and Badak LNG: Contributing to Sustaining the Business

PART FOUR:  Additional, final thoughts about this experience…

What I have tried to illustrate with the Badak LNG case discussed in Parts 1, 2, and 3 earlier is the importance of a taking a (management) systems perspective to a larger sustainability problem / scenario; to illustrate how internal company issues, however trivial they may seem to some, can have profound, external ramification if they aren’t brought to the surface and considered formally through proper identification, evaluation, control, and monitoring processes.  The Badak scenario (inadequate internal communication and promotion with respect to process safety aspects) has played itself out before in other organizations whose operations are process-related, but where management / leadership did not properly understand the importance of process-related issues with respect to health, safety, environment (‘HSE’), and the potential wider consequences to other sustainability issues, both internal and external (such as Badak’s vital Community Development program for the surrounding society).

The Badak scenario – an organization which largely based their HSE management system on ‘traditional’ occupational safety issues and aspects, at the expense of prioritizing process safety issues and aspects via many management system activities, including process safety communication, is one all too common in the process industry.  This can have the effect of establishing the wrong culture, the wrong safety focus, and can lead to major or catastrophic events.

This has been seen in two relatively recent events – the BP Texas City refinery accident and the BP Macondo / Gulf of Mexico rig blowout accident.  Both of these events, if one reads the official investigation reports by the relevant US Government commissions, identify various basic causes / findings related to inadequate management / leadership attention to process safety from various aspects, such as measurement of process safety, conducting leadership inspections for process safety, and communications with respect to process safety, etc.  All of these contributors can be lessons learned for other organizations to be aware of and to apply to see if their management systems also have such deficiencies.  Acting upon such deficiencies before a major event occurs is an excellent investment, will be far less costly than the potential event itself, and help ensure the sustainability of the business from numerous aspects and points of view, i.e., survivability of the LNG processing plant itself, people’s lives, ensuring the continuity of the community development program, etc.

Thus, this background became part of the basis for our original DNV GL audit / assessment report recommendation to Badak LNG to enhance their Process Safety (Management) communications by suggesting that their communication and promotion activity also include focused communication promotions and themes for a ‘Year of PSM.’

4 thoughts on “Communications, Promotion, and Badak LNG: Contributing to Sustaining the Business

  1. Hello The Stain’ Home,

    I read all your four blog entries and found them very elaborative and interesting. Thank you very much for taking your time sharing this with us. I really like the detail level of your story-telling as well as your senses of humor 🙂

    My comments would be around the importance of taking a system perspective when considering and/or diagnosing a larger problem. I’m a fan of a system approach as it not only encompasses the whole picture and highlights the broader context, but it also takes into consideration any interactions among and across multiple levels. The system approach tends to help us recognizes the dynamic shifts that occur over time while at the same time encourages any collaboration between stakeholders.

    Another part of your blog that I’m also interested in is around moving over traditions or norms of an organization. While taking this approach in mind, it is also important to consider how to break away from our routine traditions or norms of how we normally operate things and strive for a better, a more effective and efficient way to achieve our goals. I remember a while back my friend gave me a book called ‘Breaking Tradition to Accomplish Vision: Training Leaders for a Church-Planting Movement: A Case from India’. The cover looked slightly boring to me (but I eventually got over that). Indeed this is a good book which I would also recommend to you (if Mst reading is not enough for you already :)). This book talks about an institute that lost its organizational vision over time. The authors wrote about the journey of how they re-built the institute to get back on their vision and resume their good work in the country while getting over existing and deep-rooted traditions, norms and cultures both in the organization and in the society. Your blog somewhat reminds me of this insightful and inspiring book.

    All in all, it’s a really interesting blog entry. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to reading more.

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    1. Hi, WorldWanderous……
      Thanks for your comments. Yes, organisations can and do lose their vision over time. That’s why communications and promotions must go on as long as an organization’s core production continues, and even after that, because in the industry I primarily work in, oil and gas, there are issues of abandonment after production ceases, and that must also be communicate and promoted! Many people do not seem to realize this in my experience; they think communicating and promoting is sporadic, as and when. However, it’s a persistent, often tenacious thing. You can’t let up, although the topics and themes change over time. It literally goes on and on and on and on, and if someone retires from that function in the organization, there’ll be someone to take over. To make it real, imagine Coca-Cola stopping their advertising campaigns for a year! That would be suicide; on the flip side, PepsiCo would be on Cloud Nine!!

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  2. @thestainhome very insightful and practical information shared concerning Health and Safety and engagement. For starters I appreciate how you’ve focused on key points in each of your posts this made it very easy to follow and understand the points made without overwhelming the reader.

    Safety in Myanmar is very poor. I’m sure Indonesia had a similar experience prior to the boom of oil and gas industry. Encouraging employees to get involved let alone be accountable or responsible is very challenging especially in a culture where it is not prioritised and there is a value action gap among employees concerning safety.

    In my working environment, safety is understood as an activity and not a culture which impacts how safety is implemented. Part of the solution would be to take a step back, revaluate and identify how the company can create a culture that takes into consideration a balance between behaviour and management processes.

    The key themes I’ve identified include the importance of culture, employee engagement, ownership, and leadership. I appreciate how the approach taken to Badak involved balancing a management system with behaviour based activities to result in influencing employee empowerment, ownership, and improved decision making. I believe an organisational culture can be created and successful if it involves decisions that are made in a bottom up and top down approach. The fact that DNV GL took a step back and re-evaluated their approach is an achievement on its own. From my experience most companies find it hard to be analytical and look for improvements or gaps.

    This leads into my next comment on traditions. I agree with World Wanderus, it is important to identify how to break away from traditions and norms and continuously improve. This is a challenge my company faced. Trying to grow and improve but holding on to tradition is hindering the process of growth.

    All in a all a great case study with many lessons to be learnt. Insightful indeed.

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