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Melini Hadjitheori

You will be presenting on “Building a Culture that Lasts and Consistently Delivers Exponential Leaders, Growth and Value Creation through Excellence & Innovation”. What is one innovation lesson learned that has stuck with you throughout your career?

There are a number of myths that employees and organizations have about innovation. The word ‘innovation’ is both romanticized and overused. Most don’t even know what it actually means. To create extraordinary innovations in an organization we must define it in ordinary ways, and make it accessible for all in the organization. When asked, business leaders and employees alike will think of innovation as coming up with new ideas. That is only partially true. The ideation step is necessary but not sufficient for innovation. The more experienced person will say that innovation is coming up with new ideas that create value. That is close but not complete. I often say that I work with several businesses that have large cemeteries of new ideas that create value. Nobody in those organizations had the courage to put their reputations behind those ideas to implement them. Innovation execution is the hardest part. This leads to the complete, simple, and often unknown definition of innovation: “the implementation of new ideas that create value.” This ordinary definition, that anyone in the organization can act on, can help drive extraordinary innovations.

Speaking from experience, what are the keys to success in identifying innovation methods?

Before delving into identifying innovation methods, it is important that organizations realize that methods alone do not transform businesses. People do. High performing organizations learn how to crowdsource innovation with their employees, unleashing the potential of their own people to reinvent the business. This is most effective when formally tied to leadership development programs in the organization, where the best talent is challenged to identify, prioritize, scope, and execute on business improvements and innovations. These emerging leaders are encouraged to take a venture capitalist approach to both the idea and innovation method selection. They prioritize the implementation of ideas that create the most value, in the shortest time, through the simplest means. Is the best method the application of ‘different perspectives’ techniques to create disruptive innovations? Or is it the acceleration of customer value through the deployment of Lean or Six Sigma? Could it be a combination of methods? The ‘best method’ depends on the context of the problem or opportunity at hand. It is always the one(s) that helps create the most value, in the shortest time, through the simplest means.

What are some ways to leverage Excellence & Innovation as it applies to asset reliability within downstream Oil & Gas operations? 

Downstream Oil & Gas companies are using Excellence & Innovation approaches to identify thousands of business improvements and innovations delivering billions of dollars in new value creation annually. The opportunities are everywhere. They include better data analytics for improved maintenance and reliability to more advanced applications of machine learning and artificial intelligence that enable algorithms with strong predictive capabilities to safely extend maintenance windows and reduce unscheduled downtime. Other technical applications may include the deployment of advanced sensors for rotary equipment health assessments in real time, unmanned aerial vehicles or satellite imagery with spectrometry for pipeline integrity and surveillance, digital twins for logistic optimizations, and automated (and safer) robotic tank inspections, to name a few. Most important, Excellence & Innovation ideation sessions facilitated by experienced leaders build strong collaboration among front-line employees and subject matter experts to systematically reveal hundreds of new ideas to improve and innovate downstream asset reliability in any business. When we tap the knowledge and imagination of those closest to the work, we are always amazed by the quantity and quality of new value creation ideas that emerge.

What is the future vision for Excellence & Innovation within a workforce culture? 
There is a revolution in corporate intrapreneurship taking place in the US today. With the acceleration of exponential technologies, there are exceptional business threats and opportunities within the next decade. Employees are increasingly connected and empowered by these transformational technologies, in their personal and professional lives. Winning businesses know that you either disrupt yourself from within or you will be painfully disrupted from outside. They are systematically creating the ultimate competitive advantage by building cultures of Excellence & Innovation where employees are encouraged, structurally supported, coached, and celebrated for routinely improving and innovating all areas of the business. Leadership development programs are being redefined to identify and allow these corporate intrapreneurs to showcase their collaborative leadership skills and the ability to accelerate innovation, strategy execution, and value creation. This Excellence & Innovation meritocracy leads to high levels of employee engagement, satisfaction and performance while accelerating the leadership skills and careers for those who effectively lead the implementation of new ideas that create value.

Tell us an interesting fact about your professional background that is not included in your bio or LinkedIn profile. 

Many of the greatest innovations in my career came from cross-industry knowledge or experiences. One of the distinctive features of the award-winning Excellence & Innovation program called “innovation through simplification” came from early observations of product development and innovation in the semiconductor industry. Fields with high levels of complexity, including semiconductor technology but also downstream Oil & Gas, tend to attract very bright, intellectually capable professionals. When faced with complex problems, these professionals often tackle them by wrapping complex solutions around the complex problems. Worse yet, they often pride themselves on the apparent complexity of their solutions and the fact that even other bright individuals struggle to understand, let alone follow their intricate logic. There is no genius in this ‘engineering school intellectual competition’ model. True genius is the ability to face complexity and apply “innovation through simplification” principles effectively. These powerful principles direct innovation practitioners to understand and address only the essence of complexity, ignoring its totality. We often refer to this approach as 80% design. For example, one may be tempted to develop a very thorough document for the operation and maintenance of a complex piece of equipment. The final document may end up having 800 pages of content, including fine technical details about what could wrong with the equipment along with a long list detailing failure modes observed over the past several decades. Now we have a thorough and complete document that very few people read or understand fully. It is indeed a complex solution wrapped around a very complex problem. It provides a false sense of security that we are being thorough while rendering the document practically ineffective. Applying “innovation through simplification” principles to the same problem may lead us to better account for the essence of the complexity and tackle it with an 80% design approach. In simple terms, we may instead have a 20-page procedure that addresses the essence of the equipment operations, what happens most often, and key failure modes. Operators will find it more useful and will be more likely to read and fully internalize the critical information that was previously lost in the 800-page, “comprehensive” manual. “Innovation through simplification” is non-trivial, counter-intuitive, even controversial, but it is an incredibly powerful model for innovation in an increasingly complex world. There is much to be gained in our industry from knowledge, insights and novel, successful approaches commonly used in other industries.

Ahead of the 9th Annual Chem/Petrochem & Refining Asset Reliability conference,  we spoke with José Pires, Global Excellence & Innovation executive leader about innovation within downstream Oil & Gas operations.

Download the Agenda HERE!

About the Conference:

The 9th Annual Chem, Petrochem & Refining Asset Reliability event will enable you to expand your awareness of solutions and tools used to overcome reliability and asset management challenges, as well as provide you with information essential to improving productivity within your organization. Attendees will acquire proven techniques to administer a sustainable, successful Asset Reliability Program. The 9th Annual Chem, Petrochem & Refining Asset Reliability event will be held  22-24 Jan 2019, in Houston, TX, USA.

Copyright © 2018 Marcus Evans. All rights reserved.

About the speaker:

José Pires serves as Global Excellence & Innovation (E&I) executive leader and advisor for startups, scaleups, and Fortune 500 companies, where he oversees the global identification, prioritization and execution of high-value business improvements and innovations for the companies, business partners and customers in multiple markets.
Pires has held Excellence & Innovation leadership positions in large, global companies in the electronics (Sony), semiconductor (Cymer-ASML), food (Nestlé), infrastructure (Black & Veatch) and Oil & Gas (Andeavor-MPC) industries. Throughout his career, Pires developed and refined E&I as an award-winning program to accelerate innovation, leadership development, strategy execution and value creation globally.
Pires is an advisory board leader and keynote speaker for several global conferences on innovation, operational excellence, leadership development, strategy execution, culture and business transformation, customer engagement, exponential technologies, and growth acceleration.
He is an executive Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt who holds a Bachelor in Engineering Physics from the University of Kansas and a Master in Business Administration focused in Investment Banking and Entrepreneurship from the University of San Diego.

Innovation Lessons in Downstream Oil & Gas from a Global Excellence & Innovation Leader

José Pires, Global Excellence & Innovation executive leader 

Speakers Include: 
  • Tony Barre
    Global Maintenance & Reliability Director, Hydrocarbons & Energy
    Dow Chemical Company

  • Robert Johnson
    Technical Manager Capital Projects, Reliability and Mechanical Integrity
    Hexion Inc

  • Earl Crochet
    Director of Engineering and Operational Optimization
    Kinder Morgan 

  • John Mire
    Mechanical Reliability Engineer Supervisor

  • Kerry Moodie
    Project Manager-Houston Operating Centre
    Atlantic LNG 

  • Theunis Myburg
    Portfolio Manager: Maintenance & Reliability, Turnarounds, Warehouse Management & Capital Projects

  •  Brian Case
    Sr. Supervisor – Inspection & Reliability
    Petrojam Limited

Key Practical Case Studies
  • Factor in human performance to become a more reliable, leaner organization by learning from events and errors with Flint Hill Resources

  • Streamline interdepartmental collaboration to realize operational efficiency with Dow Chemical Company

  • Improve labor productivity through reinforcement of management processes and measurement techniques with Ascend Performance Materials

  • Overcome challenges due to limited resources by utilizing preventive maintenance tools and technologies to enhance maintenance programs with Petrojam Limited
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