Managing Mandated Change in Pipeline Control Room Operations

By Mark Grant, Invensys Operations Management | July 2012, Vol. 239 No. 7
Buyer's Guide

Creating a process for 49 CFR control room regulation compliance requires a great deal of thought, but ensuring that the hard work put into the investigative and implementation phases continue past a few months can require even more thought. To realize these benefits, pipeline operators must rise to meet a number of challenges, not the least of which is managing change.

Change management, as it relates to 49 CFR 192.631 and 49 CFR 195.446 and API 1165 and 1168 is at the same time a product, a process and a theory. It is about changing day-to-day business operations and changing responses to abnormal and emergency situations and this all requires changing behavior. This must start with a clear understanding of where operations are today and a plan for how everyone in your company -- senior company officers, managers and control room operators -- can transition effectively to new ways of doing things. Before putting an embedded software shift handover system in place, for example, the SCADA manager must consider and manage employee behavior to alleviate their fear of failing to use it correctly.

The good news is that many of the communications and information-sharing improvements called for by 49 CFR compliance mirror many of the change management measures that organizational development experts often recommend. Pipeline managers who are aware of these, and plan compliance activities accordingly, can be much more certain that changes they make will be effective and sustainable.

Change Management History
Let’s take a brief look at the history of change management.

Management theorists have examined and researched change management for a long timeTwo of the most influential theories were put forth by the Prosci Research institute and psychologist Kurt Lewin. Prosci identified the following five elements of successful change in an organization or group: 1) acknowledgement, which describes the stage at which both management and employees recognize the need for change; 2) desire, which focuses on the willingness to change; 3) knowledge, which addresses the employee’s understanding of how to meet the requirement for change; 4) ability, which considers whether the employees actually have the capability to act on that knowledge; and 5) reinforcement, which considers the organization’s ability to sustain the change.
Commonly referred to by the acronym ADKAR, the Prosci approach also identifies the five corresponding tactical phases illustrated in Figure 1. They include determining the 1) Business Need, 2) Project Definition and the 3) Business Solution, 4) specifying the New Process Systems necessary to achieve the business solution and 5) Implementation of the plan.

Figure 1: Prosci ADKAR change management model and associated tactical phases
Kurt Lewin, one of the earliest researchers in change management, put forth another element by drawing additional attention to the emotional factors associated with the desire to change.