I would like to discuss three key cultural values at BP that Simon influenced. These key values are highly important in maintaining continuous development and distinctive performance in an organization. Focus, Teamwork, and Motivation are three major cultural values that Simon built while he was a CEO of BP. I strongly believe that these key corporate values have become a cornerstone of BP’s mission. They are illustrated in BP’s current business policy that “…successful change depends on the continuity of secure values – values which inform every decision made by every individual on a daily basis.”
Focus was the first thing which Simon emphasized when he first assumed the position of CEO. It is important to have a focus on what the company will do and where it will go. Simon’s focus was illustrated by his selling off of the company’s unrelated acquisitions and paying attention to only petroleum productions, which was the initial major commodity of the company. He got rid of the diversification that might have caused increasing costs in duplicate and redundant processes.
He focused and targeted. He made an obvious point to BP employees that they should focus on “cost- and profit-” effectiveness. It is mentioned in the article that his golden rule was “Targeting is fundamental to achieving. If you do not target [focus], you do not measure and you do not achieve.” He had been moving on target along with his employees. One person in his executive team stated that Simon was “…setting clear targets and telling people how they can achieve them.” However, he also accepted that selecting the right target and communicating it to others was the difficulty of leadership.
Teamwork was what Simon always emphasized to his colleagues and subordinates. He was building teamwork while simultaneously achieving other goals. He engendered teamwork through open communication, knowledge sharing and goal setting. As mentioned in my answer to question 1, Simon had communicated with individuals at all levels within the company. He glued the company together with team cohesion and group dynamics. He did not get work done “his way” like Horton did. He knew how to delegate tasks and combine them to achieve a successful outcome. Simon had a strong statement about teamwork as follows:
“Performance based on ever-improving teamwork is the theme carried forward by the managing directors and the senior management team.” “I’m always interested to see which people are influential in a team, why a team plays better with some individuals.” The implications in his statement are that teamwork can exist only when the top management pays attention to and holds it as a completion-driven tool. Therefore, the leaders need to function with their subordinates as a team and pass the teamwork skills along to them.
Simon had always motivated everyone to keep up with the quality and performance of their work. He also motivated them to create breakthrough thinking. An example of this is his visit to a drilling platform where he talked to the workers about their tasks. He gave them his insight into what they were doing. In a sense, he told them that they were a part of the company’s overall accomplishments. They produced oil, which was sold in the market, and as a consequence the company made profits. This kept the workers motivated through a sense of involvement in BP’s success and also made them aware of the cost- and profit- effectiveness of their processes.
Simon had influenced these three major (and many other) cultural values of the BP Company through his performance. He led by action. He showed others what he wanted to accomplish, set benchmarks, and measured his progress. Moreover, he modeled his behavior and shared his vision so others could follow. What Simon had done made employees feel a sense of “individual ownership over business decisions,” which can foster continuous improvement in, loyalty to, and accomplishment for BP.
3. Using the same lines of reasoning that you used to answer the above questions identify what you feel may be the implications for the current leadership challenges and strategic opportunities in the organization you now work for? Using the aforementioned concepts, I see some advantages and disadvantages in the current leadership and opportunities within my organization. I am working in a small division of a large organization. Communication with the upper bosses is sometimes difficult due to their unyielding schedules. However, there is no problem communicating within the division at all. When available, my bosses maintain open and honest communication. Our organizational structure tends to be a flat type. Except for the bosses, everyone in the office is standing on the same line.
My bosses really build teamwork through cohesion among employees. I think our office has strong cohesion because we are not too large and have peer-to-peer support. Everyone helps one other as much as he/she can. I think one important factor is that the newcomers follow what the existing team has been doing. The number of employees in my office has doubled within the last year. Before I came aboard, there were about 12 people in the office and they had a strong relationship with each other because they had been working together closely for a long time. They had created cohesion among themselves and established group norms. I have observed other new employees including myself following those norms, which has helped us build even stronger group cohesion.
I think another reason that we have stable teamwork is constant cooperation activities. We always have some kind of fun activities that usually involve everyone in the office. For example, we celebrated an accomplishment of some graduates who have worked for our office since they entered school. This is an obvious extrinsic reward my bosses always give to everyone in the office. Moreover, the accomplishment of the task itself as an intrinsic reward holds us together as a group. One’s tasks depend on another’s responsibilities. Each one of us is assigned a task according to our expertise; however, we are encouraged to get more training in other facets of the task and often times, work assignments are interdependent.
Motivation is always there for everyone. Our bosses always give us direction necessary to complete our tasks as well as recommendations and encouragement. Everyone, as individuals and group members, receives compliments on the accomplishment of their tasks. Our bosses always remind us of our goals and mission during regular meetings. As I mentioned in my first journal that once in a while our web team has a brainstorming meeting in which the team leader always starts out by quoting our mission statement. In doing so, we as group members are on the same page of what service we are providing and who our target audience is. As a result, the ideas everyone suggests tend to be more related to our goals. The leader also sets a priority of tasks. Our subsequent meeting will be run according to the priority list as the agenda.
One of the leadership challenges we face is that my boss sometimes wants to get tasks done her way. I can see this happening with a leader who has a high need of power and achievement. Fortunately, she is also often a listener. She tends to be a data-driven person because of the nature of our work in research. Accurate and useful information is required for a change in work processes.
Another relevant issue might be her personality. She acts so powerful that sometimes no one is brave enough to talk to her about a particular issue. I think this is a weakness in our organization because often an issue requires an urgent solution. However, we do not withhold our ideas long without her discovering them. We either ask another boss to help or eventually bring the issue up to her.