Monday, 28 May 2012

KM and demographics - Schlumberger studies

Thanks to Jeff Stemke for forwarding me this interesting analysis from Schlumberger on the demographics of geoscience resources; one of an annual series of presentations from Schlumberger business services.

OK, the demographics of geoscientific resources may not sound relevant to your business at first hearing, but in fact this is an interesting study of a global "war for talent", and some of the KM-related responses that are in play in a number of companies.

Here's the story.

The Oil Industry is facing "The Big Crew Change", as a generation of older experienced workers give way to younger graduates. For many years it was feared that the number of new graduates would be insufficient to fill the gap. Now that's not the case, though the supply of staff from the top institutions is still much less than demand. However the nature of the work is changing, from a few big oil fields, to many smaller fields, requiring higher levels of staffing. The new staff are coming into a more demanding environment. To stick with old style "natural learning" patterns and expecting an effective result, is no longer an option.

So how do companies respond?

The screenshot here is from Schlumberger's 2006 study, and contrasts the difference in "time to competence" (or "time to autonomy") in geoscience staff between what they call Innovative companies, and Conservative companies. An "innovative company" can help new staff develop autonomy within 4 years, a conservative company takes 10 years. That 6 year difference makes a massive difference in the effectiveness and efficiency of your workforce (in later presentations they reduce this difference to 3-5 years, and suggest that the innovative companies are generally the Western Internationals, and the conservative companies are generally the National Oil Companies (2011 study)). They explain that what differentiates Innovative companies is

  • The amount invested in training
  • The length of graduate development programs
  • The use of blended learning, and
  • the use of Knowledge Management in a big way
Schlumberger themselves are of course one of the worlds leaders in Knowledge Management, as are many of the Western International Majors such as Shell and ConocoPhillips.

Another KM response is shown in the screenshot below from the 2010 study.

The western majors are investing in codifying their practice, at least for routine tasks, in order to provide explicit knowledge to younger staff. The National Oil Companies are not. 

And the value for all of this? A final screenshot from the 2010 study shows that without faster time to competence, without codification of practice (among other interventions), there are only a number of things you can do 
  • Abandon projects (lose money)
  • Abandon the operator role (lose control)
  • Delay projects (lose money), or
  • Carry more risk.

So some very interesting survey responses here, which all illustrate the support that Knowledge Management has to play in an industry with changing demographics, in order to save money and reduce risk.


Annemarie Rawlins said...

Hi Nick
What do you mean by 'blended learning'?
Many thanks for this interesting post.

Nick Milton said...

By "blended learning" they mean a combination of classroom training, structured individual learning such as action learning, e-learning and m-learning, and on-the-job learning (which often interfaces with KM)

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