You must have observed that whenever we are discussing about a business activity in hand, the choice is to start with an existing process or something which most of the people in the discussion agree. The discussion then proceeds in optimizing the baseline process. I have seen a very few leaders who really challenge the process which everyone is following and suggest a completely different but effective process to solve the business problem. Almost all the time, it is observed that challenging the status-quo behavior of leaders has provided competitive advantage to their business. In this article I am sharing one such leadership story with you -
Once or twice a year the oil rigs are completely shut down for maintenance of associated equipment & accessories. The EPC contractors who are working on existing wells enhancement or new wells, consider the shut down as a golden opportunity as the mainline is completely shut down & EPC contractors can connect tie-in valves for all their future pipe connections.
Mostly all EPC contractors spend time planning resources and material at least 1 month before the shutdown. Every day they spend time with their project management teams as well as customers as well as vendors in aligning all the resources.
I came across one construction leader who was thinking differently from the conventional approach. He thought that a tie-in of valves is just routine work and we do not need to do any special planning for this with the teams. He instructed his teams to focus on their daily schedules and did not conduct any meetings for the shutdown planning. He had found out that all the laborers of the local market as well rental equipment from nearby places will be booked by other contractors, he booked rental equipment and additional material from Mumbai. He did not book any additional laborers. The shutdown day was being eagerly awaited by all the contractors whereas this contractor & his team focused on completing their daily targets.
On the day of shut down and also on days after that, his team came to work as usual - got his instructions and completed the work. I saw that within a week his team completed all the tie ins whereas other contractors were struggling to complete as they were dependent on new laborers as well as local resources who were highly loaded during this time. The shutdown went on for 3 more weeks where all other EPC contractors were working, whereas this person’s team in the last 3 weeks were completing their other daily routine activities. In fact, he returned all the rental equipment to Mumbai vendors after 1-week utilization. I could see a sense of pride in his team when they saw other contractor teams doing a similar number of tie-ins in more time & cost.
One thing was reinforced by this incident - don’t take things at face value and jump on optimizing the process. Challenge the status-quo, think strategically, think hard on “Karna Kya hai” (Hindi Phrase). The irony is that people in most Indian organizations think a lot about optimizing the process. Whereas they should be thinking about whether what they are doing can be done in a more effective way - in a cheaper way or faster way. Intentional thinking of changing the way activities are happening is more important than accepting the activities as it is.