Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How BP's Employees Became More Efficient in 5 Hours

Effective work planning —how workers divide their workday among the steady stream of incoming requests for their time— is paramount to individual and ultimately, organizational performance. No one knows this better than Shelley Steffek-Pernot, Global Capability Manager for multinational oil and gas company BP. Her solution: an innovative in-house training program, Effective Planning, featuring Discovery Learning’s proven business simulation, Paper Planes, Inc.

“While most companies use Paper Planes to improve teamwork collaboration and customer service, BP is using the simulation in a very innovative way,” says Chris Musselwhite, President of Discovery Learning. “Recognizing how clearly the simulation demonstrates the value of challenging assumptions about work, BP is using Paper Planes to show workers the benefit of using a disciplined workday planning process across the entire organization.”

According to Steffek-Pernot, getting people comfortable with challenging assumptions about work on a daily basis is a primary learning objective of Effective Planning. Paper Planes is designed so that if no questions are asked about the work and the individual roles as presented, the initial production runs are usually surprisingly ineffective at meeting the customer’s seemingly achievable specifications.

“Most of us assume we have no option but to complete work as it’s given to us, when actually we have multiple options: we can do it, defer it, delegate it, drop it, or re-design it,” says Steffek-Pernot. “Paper Planes provides a very realistic experience that drives home the benefit of constantly challenging expectations about work and redesigning it if doing so will provide more value to the company.”

Steffek-Pernot knows how important this is in a constantly changing business environment. “Work that was a valuable use of time yesterday may be irrelevant today due to a change in business needs.”

This reality becomes clear after one run of Paper Planes, when participants immediately see the need to challenge assumptions and redesign the work process in order to come up with better results. It becomes clear again when customer interventions further complicate the process. Often, the difference in results once a team begins to ask questions and make improvements is so significant that the impact is felt by everyone in the room.

“While the information provided in the classroom lectures is great, the real learning happens during the simulation,” says Steffek-Pernot. “Paper Planes works because participants get to experience firsthand the value in constantly challenging assumptions and optimizing work processes. It’s this internalization of the learning that makes it much more likely that participants will apply it in the workplace right away and actually change their work habits – which is the goal of any training we do.” Steffek-Pernot recognizes that the skills necessary for effective workday planning will continue to be essential capabilities for workers in highly interconnected and dynamic workplaces like BP.

“We know that our people will continue to face competing demands on their time. Based on what we’ve seen to date, we believe that Paper Planes will continue to be an effective tool to help our employees learn the critical skills necessary for effective workday planning for years to come.”

1 comment:

  1. I've been facilitating Paper Planes Inc. for almost 15 years. While it's a wonderful way to explore change, teamwork and communication, I believe some of the richest learnings occur around work process design. More importantly, it helps participants learn the value of challenging. processes that are outdated or no longer make sense. It's then up to the organization to shape the culture in which employees can be empowered to do so in their real world! It's truly a wonderful simulation that stays with people long after they've gone through it.
    Nancy Probst


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