6.2 An Outline of the Project

Section 6.2.2 contains a brief overview of background, major actors, objectives and accomplishment of the project. The intention is to provide the reader with an overall view of the project before looking into details.

6.2.2 Introduction to the strategy project

As an international petroleum company, Statoil depend upon a large number of different technologies in order to run their business and compete efficiently within their markets. In order to ensure that technological needs are met and opportunities exploited, they rely on a set of strategies for how various technologies should be obtained and employed to provide benefits to the company. The technology strategy project was initiated to develop a new, corporate technology strategy for Statoil.

Roles and actors on the technological arena

Statoil have organized their formal activities pertaining to technological decisions with a board of technology as the main forum for overall technological decisions, and eight technology groups with responsibilities within more specialized areas. In addition, there is a position titled chief engineer with extensive responsibilities and influence concerning technological decisions within assigned areas.
These roles are permanent, i.e., they are institutionalized in the organization and have long-term goals. The technology strategy project organization, on the other hand, was transient (as a project usually is), carried out by a team referred to as the process group.
Board of Technology (BoT)
The board of technology is comprised of six members, all with extensive experience from working for Statoil. Being on the board is a part time occupation, and they all have high positions in their respective organization units. The units they belong to represent major business areas of Statoil. BoT is the main responsible forum for technological decisions in Statoil and report directly to the corporate management group.
Technology groups (TG)
The eight technology groups operate with their own budgets, focusing on technology development and use within dedicated areas. Each group has on the average eight members. As for the board of technology, they are all experienced and highly knowledgeable within their domains of expertise, and participating in a TG is combined with an ordinary position. The groups are deliberately put together to ensure that all domains relevant to a particular technological challenge are covered. The TGs also incorporate the chief engineers, and the TGs were mainly represented by the chief engineers in the strategy project.
Chief engineers
There are about 17 chief engineers in Statoil, and each have their area of responsibility concerning technology. The position "Chief Engineer" is the highest technical position in the company (i.e., non-managerial), and the positions are filled by persons with both deep expertise within a particular domain and a good overview of other domains. Chief engineers were involved by the process group to get early feedback on preliminary work in the course of the project, playing the role of future users. Three chief engineers also participated directly in the process group.
Process group (PG)
The process group had the practical responsibility for developing and disseminating the technology strategy. They made preparations, planned and monitored the project, and reported to the project principal (the BoT). Members of the PG also did most of the work in the final preparation and formulation of the strategy document (then as members of the strategy group -- SG). The process group also relied on the efforts of a number of other actors. These will be introduced as they enter the project.

The project mandate

The formal mandate given to the process group from the Board of Technology was provided as a short statement dated 23rd of October, 1995. The mandate outlined four requirements: There were two important implications of the mandate: Firstly, both the contents and form of the final technology strategy document were left to the process group to decide. The development method was also to be developed as a part of the project -- the only constraint was that it had to be approved by the BoT. Secondly, the development process explicitly required extensive communication and cooperation, both with business units (requirement 2) and with the various technology groups (requirement 4). In practice, this meant involving a significant number of actors with different professional backgrounds and interests.

6.2.2 Meetings as the main way-of-working

The main way-of-working was through meetings. Meetings came in many variants -- face-to-face in small groups, larger workshops, video conferences, ad-hoc gatherings to discuss sudden ideas, and presentations to various audiences. Meetings were not only used for coordination of work that had been performed in between the meetings, but also to actually work and produce. In addition to meetings, email, phone and a Lotus Notes database were used for communication.
provides an outline of the main stages in the technology project as perceived from the perspective of this study.
Figure 6.2: Outline of stages and meetings in the technology strategy project

The first meeting in the process group was held October 31st, 1995, and the strategy development phase was closed by a presentation to the BoT on May 2nd, 1996. In between, about 30 formal meetings were held by various groups to discuss and develop intermediate versions of the strategy, in addition to a number of unplanned meetings, consultations and presentations. By formal meeting is meant one that is planned and recorded in form of minutes from the meeting. provides an overview of the number and distribution of meetings in various groups (WG denotes "work group" and will be in section ).