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Posting on Shell Blog by IT4me on Jun 26th, 2010 at 8:50 pm


To make any change to a Downstream MI system today you start by filling-in a stack of forms. Each contains a multitude of questions, including some risible ones of the “are you a terrorist?” variety. You collect signatures, pass the forms to your resident Kremlinologist, then wait for a verdict from the “CAB” (Change Approval Board). This takes a minimum of 10 days, more usually 1 MONTH.

Some emphasis on CONTROL is understandable in the wake of the scandals of the last decade (Enron, RDS Reserves, SocGen…). But look more closely. No EXCEPTIONS are allowed, so a 1-HOUR change now takes 1 MONTH. This is MI, so we are dealing only with HISTORICAL transactions with no scope for a “SocGen”. MI uses lightweight/disposable engineering, not “production grade” stuff, so it simply doesn’t warrant this level of asset protection. A “one size fits all” approach to Change Control has effectively been dumped on MI without the slightest regard for the consequences.

Misjudgements on this scale do not occur every day, and in this case the reason appears historical. It is only a few years since Matula’s tanks came rolling back into Business IT areas from which they had been expelled a decade earlier (and for good reason; anyone remember MIOS?). So most of the Apparatchiks now enjoying power have no competence in MI. They are not alone. For good measure, the CAB itself is offshored, so those making the scope decisions haven’t a clue what they’re looking at.

I was struck by a recent posting from IT4U reminding us of the behaviours Peter Voser would like us to aspire to: External Focus, Commercial Mindset, DELIVERY, SPEED, and SIMPLICITY. Who could argue with that ? And why do I feel a migraine coming on?

Response posting on Shell Blog by IT4u on Jun 27th, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Couldn’t leave IT4me without some challenge on his remarks. Unfortunately they are spot on, the systematic destruction of value adding functions (IT, Finance, HR, procurement etc.) has taken about 5 years, and is now almost totally achieved. Offshoring and consolidation of staff into single ‘functions’ has led to a LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR approach. Whatever country had the dumbest IT, Finance, HR, staff got to become the baseline that everyone else had to sink down to, and that all the rules were introduced to protect against. Much easier than trying to improve the teams in a few countries.

Separately on Voser’s new vision – the fundamentals for changing actions (and results) is to change peoples experiences and their beliefs. This has been unequivocally ruled out by Voser this week, and hence not a single project that goes against his new vision is being stopped or reassessed. Another disappointing implementation of something that actually has a great foundation. If only senior managers were smart enough to stop all the projects underway and review which are still inline with Shell’s newly verbalized vision. If people saw projects being stopped that are in direct conflict with the new vision at least beliefs would start changing, and there would be some chance of embedding the new culture… as it is Shell staff are doomed to be rewarded in 2010 performance assessments for doing the exact opposite – cutting costs, reducing headcount (more offshoring) and definitely not investing any money to make the customer experience better. Oh well, lets hope by 2011 the staff have updated performance goals in line with the vision (only 6 months to go!)

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