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Gavin Mcleod
Manager Business/Technical Service
Opportunities Asia Pacific
© Chevron 2010

Habari za asubuhi
Good morning.
Mimi nina radhi kwa kuwa hii nafasi ya
kubadilishana mawazo yangu juu ya
umuhimu wa mawasiliano mazuri
I'm pleased to have this chance to share
my thoughts on the importance of good
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What is it and why is it so
important ?

What happens when it’s

How can we improve it?



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• a process by which information is exchanged
between individuals through a common system
of symbols, signs, or behavior; also : exchange
of information.
• a technique for expressing ideas effectively (as
in speech).
• the act or process of using words, sounds,
signs, or behaviors to express or exchange
information or to express your ideas, thoughts,
feelings, etc., to someone else.
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• The root cause of ~90% of all incidents that
were preventable was poor or lack of
• The root cause of 75% of all cost overruns was
poor communications or understanding, which is
really the same thing.
• One recent refinery commissioning was delayed
by over one year as a result of poor
communication resulting in hundreds of millions
of dollars in lost revenue and penalties.
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Failure 101
“Swing Project”
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Lack of Communication

How the customer
described the project.
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Lack of Communication

How the project leader
understood it.
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Lack of Communication

How the engineers
designed it.
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Lack of Communication

How the business
consultant described it.
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Lack of Communication

How the training material
described it.
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Lack of Communication

How the project was
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Lack of Communication

How much the budget
allowed for it.
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Lack of Communication

How the operations group
wanted it.
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Lack of Communication

How the finished project
was supported.
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Lack of Communication

What the customer really
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Lack of Communications
Examples 1 & 2
Many things went wrong.
The final “straw” was
a rubber mat installed
by the workers on the
Though not allowed, it
was NOT communicated.

This incident was the
result of improper
material being used on a
temporary process
system bypass.
Poor communication
strikes again.
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Lack of Communications
Example 3
NASAs metric confusion caused Mars orbiter loss
Share this on:
September 30, 1999
CNN NASA lost a 125 million Mars orbiter because one engineering team
used metric units while another used English units for a key
spacecraft operation, according to a review finding released Thursday.
For that reason, information failed to transfer between the Mars Climate
Orbiter spacecraft team at Lockheed Martin in Colorado and the
mission navigation team in California. Lockheed Martin built the
People sometimes make errors said Edward Weiler, NASAs Associate
Administrator for Space Science in a written statement. The problem
here was not the error, it was the failure of NASAs systems
engineering, and the checks and balances in our processes to detect
the error. (In other words – Poor Communications) That's why
we lost the spacecraft.
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Lack of Communications
Example 4
 Multi-year project to consolidate 7 regional ERP systems with ~1500 users into a
single global ERP (SAP) across 11 countries and 3 languages. SAP is good
system but intolerant of even slight deviations so there has to be good definition
and strict governance of “Master Data”.
 Master Data (definition, conversion from existing systems as well as creation
(included in new design but not currently defined) is recognized as the #1 risk in
the execution of ERP projects so a global team was created early in the project to
manage this area.
 After significant work and testing it was discovered everyone was using a “.” as
the decimal point while the French were using a “,” which would be correct for
France but not for a single global system. A program was able to replace the “,”
with “.” and avert a potential huge amount of rework.
 All requirements must be defined and communicated – not just assumed as gaps
can occur especially when working across languages and cultures.
 Cost of this miscommunication could have been ~10million USD !!! If a
workaround program was not able to correct.

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Lack of Communications
Example 5
BP Texas City incident. 15 killed, 180 injured, billions of dollars loss.
The CSB looked at many factors, including human factors such as communication.
The following is part of their analysis:
Situation: Startup of an Isom Unit starting with the night shift. The liquid in
the tower is at high-high level.

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The Lead Operator overseeing the startup briefly updated the night
operator at 5 AM and left work an hour early.


A new board operator arrived at 6 AM and spoke briefly with the night
operator and read the log book to prepare for his shift.


The log book did not leave instructions on the high level of liquid.

The log book read: Isom: Brought in some raff to unit, to pack raff with.

At 7:15 AM the day shift supervisor arrived. He did not receive any
briefing because he was one hour late.

When the startup continued, more liquid was added which eventually led
to catastrophic results.

Again poor communications was the root cause of this incident!


Lack of Communications
Example 6

Another example of poor communications. In
this instance the importance of a minimum
pressurization temperature or “MPT” was not
understood by the commissioning group.
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Lack of Communications
Example 7

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What we can do to improve?

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Communication is Key
Effective communication is often overlooked but is
a critical tool for successful commissioning. We
must understand others priorities.
Conflicting priorities between stakeholders can be
detrimental to successful communication.
Licensee – project timeline and cost
Licensor – safe and efficient design
EPC – mechanical completion
Everyone wants a safe, successful commissioning,
but decisions made during design and procurement
can negatively impact future plant performance and
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What can we do to improve
How people interpret things differently. Different
cultures etc... “Empathy; understanding your audience is
number one when you communicate”.

1. Clear– Are you sure your message was understood ?
2. Concise- Avoid ambiguity, don’t Assume..
3. Continuous- Once is not enough.
4. Complete- Ensure the message was understood.
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What can we do to improve

Communication Systems -To help avoid poor
communication developing and implementing a robust
efficient decision making process is vital to success,
but.… don’t let systems and programs do more harm than

• Don’t rely on systems alone ! – The best
systems/procedures and policies will fail without
commitment and follow through.
• Encourage dialogue– Ensure you encourage people to
ask questions. Many times people are reluctant to say “ I
don’t understand”.
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What can we do to improve
• Acronyms are Evil – Well not really but they can lead to
confusion. Make sure that the first time they are used in a
document that the full wording is used along with the
Acronym. The company I work for has a complete web
page database dedicated to Acronyms. The name of the
database is CHAOS or Chevron Acronym On-line Search.
To me the Acronym says it all!!
• Proper Planning – Detailed plans are life savers.
Remember the old saying “Proper Planning Prevents Poor
Performance” – However, Plans are ineffective if done in
• The right team- In the ends success depends on the
team. Involve the right people!!
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What can we do to improve
• Good communication is a powerful tool and it's
never accidental.
• Good communication takes a conscious effort but
when successful is very much worth the effort.
• There is no magic bullet or any one right way to
communicate properly.
• Engage in lessons learned sharings, such as
attending conferences like this one.
• What we as leaders can do is to be aware, pay
attention and when issues arise question how can
we prevent this in the future and then act!!"
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• Bad communication can and will interfere
with successful and safe commissionings.
• There are ways to improve
communications that don’t cost time or
• Will improved communications prevent all
problems ? Of course not but it’s a given
that the better we communicate with one
another the more productive we become.
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