Tag Archives: BP

Rethinking business

12 Nov

It’s absolutely unbelievable that the previous post is dated October 6th! If I didn’t know better I’d say some blog-bug hacked in and changed the date.  But it’s probably fair to say things have been a little bit hectic!  As I hinted in my last post, the beginning of term has been a storm, characterised by a whirlwind of assignments, group projects, careers events, guest lectures, MBA class elections and more! And that’s just the weekdays!

Despite the controlled insanity, it’s been very interesting to reflect in some quieter moments with a few classmates on how the things we are being taught really could play out in the real world.  One emerging theme is the concept of “rethinking business”.  What is a business for? This question came up in our first week of classes in just about every course.  Some of the concepts hinted at the traditional – to make money, to create and capture value, to innovate – but others also acknowledged a broader sense of purpose – to do all those things with an eye on the big picture of society.

I’ve been very fortunate in the past several weeks to attend events with an incredible list of speakers, two of whom resonated deeply with me personally by capturing different facets of this concept of greater responsibility.  The first was Stephen Green, the chairman of HSBC Holdings plc, speaking at the first Pears Business School Partnership lecture.  You can read more about the event here, but the key takeaway for me was his assertion that companies must transition from treating corporate social responsibility as a solely philanthropic or “do good PR” issue to using it as a core business strategy tool that selects investments in social and environment issues as a component of a successful business model.

The second speaker was Bob Dudley, the newly appointed CEO of BP.  The Confederation of British Industry’s Annual Conference was the location for Mr. Dudley’s first public appearance since taking office on October 1, 2010.  While much of his discussion centred around the in-depth internal analysis and stock-taking within the organization following the Gulf oil spill, he also clearly acknowledged that BP has had to completely rethink its role as a business, and is working on forging a very different relationship with areas like the Gulf where it does business.  Regular readers will know that I’ve written more than once about BP, and I still believe those opinions were founded and appropriate for the time.  Time will tell whether BP actually is able to achieve their objectives under Mr. Dudley’s leadership, but I will say that his personal commitment through his speech is not in doubt.  We can only hope that the new BP that emerges from this disaster will continue to be fully engaged in its broader responsibility as a global company.

So what is a business for? No doubt this will be a central theme revisted in posts to come, but I can say that we are working on defining this for ourselves in a way that centrally integrates the idea that perhaps a better question may turn out to be “Who is a business for?”

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The spin on the spill

9 Jun

This is one of those classic yelling-at-the-TV moments. In the middle of watching AC360 on CNN, calm music of a commercial invades, and there is Tony Hayward of BP doing his “we will make this right” speech. Have you seen this thing??!!!

First off, the teleprompter-induced squint has got to go – way to look like you couldn’t speak from the heart on one of the most heart-wrenching events in US history. And secondly, thanks for “taking full responsibility for the clean-up” as the crap-o-mercial goes on to say, really, that’s very generous of you.  What about taking responsibility for the events leading up to the spill in the first place??!!!

What absolutely blows my mind is the continuing idea, in the face of thousands of blog posts, hours of television and radio coverage, pounds and pounds of print news, that they can somehow “spin” this issue!!  From an upwardly spiralling flow rate from the well that is now being challenged by the Flow Rate Technical Group, to the continuing denial of sub-sea oil plumes, these guys are trying to tweak our perspective on this whole sad and sorry mess.  And clearly, this is in their best interest, as ProPublica.org reported this week.

So here is my call to the blogosphere, the new and old media, and every single person who knows someone else, sat next to someone on the bus, or stood behind a guy at the coffee shop.  Do NOT stop talking about, writing about, debating about and researching this issue.  Never, ever give up.  The collective voice needs to drown out the spin, no doubt about it.

Just like Mr. Hayward, we need to say it out loud. Minus the squint, if possible.

Boy are those guys in trouble

2 Jun

So hands up out there how many of you have drilled a deep-sea oil well in more than a mile of water? OK, so not that many of you. Me either.

However, I have drilled oil wells on land, back in my early career.  Now, I won’t for a minute pretend that I have all the answers, but I have to tell you that it blows my mind that BP has only NOW got around to trying the two most basic things to control a well blow-out – a top kill and capping the well!! And we are at Day 43! What the heck were they thinking? Gee – let’s wait and see if they notice?

Anyway, what really gets me is the almost total silence on the deaths of 11 workers, and the injuries to many more.  Eleven people lots their lives, and we have just moved on. What was the safety record on the rig? How prepared were people for the type of accident that occured? Could it happen again?  Let’s hope that the hearings and the possible criminal investigation will make sure that those 11 people are remembered, and that their deaths will not be in vain.

Time to hold ourselves accountable, folks. Time to get off the “crude cocaine” our economy is built on.  Friends don’t let friends do unsustainable fuels.