Bp Evaluation of Leadership During and After Deepwater Horizon Drilling Incident

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  • Topic: BP, John Browne, Baron Browne of Madingley, Tony Hayward
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  • Published : April 27, 2013
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III. Discuss and evaluate the leadership of change:
a.)
When it comes to BP and the changes that were made in the post-crisis era since the oil spill it is very important to reference their history of safety violations. The oil spill of project Deepwater Horizon was one largest examples of their previous lack of care and respect to safety and the earth. Previous to the spill they have been in trouble with the authorities for illegal dumping of waste products in northern Alaska as well as being fined $13 million by OSHA for failing to comply with safety violations four years after an explosion at a Texas refinery in 2005. BP has a notable track record for paying out billions of dollars to offer compensation for accidents or slight misjudgments of ethical behavior.

Tony Hayward, a British born businessman, replaced former CEO John Browne, Baron Browne of Madingley, on May 1 2007. John Browne is widely held accountable for all the drastic cuts in BP’s safety and maintenance programs which lead to the illegal dumping and the Texas refinery explosion which killed 15 people. Browne left the company abruptly after he admitted he gave an “untruthful account” to court about how he met a previous love companion. BP then appointed Tony Hayward who served as BP’s chief executive of Exploration & Production before taking the position of CEO. To many professionals in the industry Hayward was not ready for this promotion and the responsibilities it brought on.

The crisis of Deepwater Horizon was the changing catalyst or trigger at BP and their safety regulations and crisis communication. During the beginning of the crisis Tony Hayward was guilty of having a callous and uncaring appeal to the victims affected by the oil spill. Due to his behavior and BP’s lack to remove him from the situation fast enough many were witnesses to a CEO that seemed more overwhelmed by his own suffering from the crisis that he could not connect with the actual process of getting it fixed. BP had failed the first step of Kotter which is Increasing Urgency. BP had an idea that they once again had an extremely large catastrophe on their hands but they failed to see the even bigger picture which was the greatest catastrophe at all—the failure to communicate the sense of urgency to the general public and media.

What is interesting is the type of change that was meant to occur being transformational and reactive change. When reactive change has to occur there is supposed to be a sense of urgency created. BP created all the urgency it could but with a CEO promising BP would be 100% responsible for the clean-up which went 100% against corporate policy where BP states to not accept any responsibility for any spill.

“And even those efforts violate the company's own prescription for damage control. Its own spill plan, filed last year with the federal government, says of public relations: "No statement shall be made containing any of the following: promises that property, ecology or anything else will be restored to normal." (USA Today) Hayward was also accused of cost cutting on safety precautions and most notorious for his comment about wanting his life back. When he was asked what he would say to the people of Louisiana whom were located in the areas where the oil first reached the southeastern marshes he responded, "We're sorry for the massive disruption it's caused their lives. There's no one who wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back." (BBC News) In the time of 87 days BP came up with 5 different strategies to try to end the crisis that they describe a “desperate battle”. Eventually Doug Suttles, the Chief Operating Officer who is an American, began making attempts to take over PR from Hayward and was seen trying to handle interviews and questions on behalf of the company. This was an attempt to phase Tony Hayward out of the spotlight and give BP a better spokesperson more equipped to handle the media and all other public relations...
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