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.
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.
The technology strategy was to be ready for approval by BoT within the
1st of April, 1996. Hence, the project team had about 5 months
to develop the strategy.
The technology strategy was to be aligned with business challenges (as
outlined in the existing business strategies and as perceived by the business
The process group had to develop a method for technology strategy development
and have it approved by the BoT.
Strategy development was to be performed in close cooperation with the
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
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
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 ).