Breath of Clarity

Comment #2: Deepwater Horizon

Original Post by Ryan Hanlon:

Based on the article, it is evident that BP lacked the proper management to operate and pursue these large-scale projects. While trying to change the culture of BP to a less risk averse company, BP also cut four levels of management. The decision to do so was because there was a belief that there were too many people making too many decisions creating extreme cautiousness (Locke 2011, 3).

As the Simon Sinek video discusses, having proper vision and perspective to look past the bottom line and competition and having a vision for the infinite game can strengthen a workplace culture and obviously BP was just concentrating on the bottom line (Sinek 2016).

During the mid-2000s, BP was going through a transition that required numerous mergers and acquisitions with cost cutting measures implemented with the organizational structure dramatically transformed (Locke 2011, 3-4). When employees don’t trust the company that their jobs might be on the line, they don’t think about asking the tough questions of whether something is safe or not. They just want to ensure they don’t screw up or be blamed for a mistake. BP had incorporated an asset federation model; however, this model made it difficult to share best practices because the site managers were compensated for its own performance. With little oversight from a centralized body, BPs risk management and safety were considered non-essential which resulted in a few safety breaches (Locke 2011, 4).

BP failed their employees by not showing empathy for their well-being. As Simon Sinek discusses, the real job of leaders is to take care of the employees. When people are promoted, they are no longer responsible for the outputs, but they are responsible for the people doing the job (Sinek 2016).

As previously mentioned, BP suffered a few safety breaches, one of which included a Texas City Refinery explosion. As a result of the explosion, BP commissioned a former U.S. secretary of state and oil industry lawyer to investigate the incident. One key finding was that BP had cut back on maintenance and safety measures to curtail costs, meaning the responsibility for the explosion rested on senior company executives (Locke 2011, 5).

Some strategies that could have assisted in avoiding such failures from BP would be to have a structured health and safety platform followed throughout all locations with BP employees, second I would ensure that responsibility for maintenance and safety fell on upper management and third, I would try to implement a strong and well financed health and safety plan so employees wouldn’t be scared of doing their jobs correctly.


Locke, Richard M. 2011. “BP and the Deepwater Horizon Disaster of 2010.” MIT Management Sloan School. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. 2011. (Links to an external site.).

Sinek, Simon. 2016. “Most Leaders Don’t Even Know the Game They’re In.” Live2Lead 2016. YouTube. Nov. 2, 2016. Video, 35:08.

My Comment:

Hi Ryan,

Great point that a company needs to solidify its foundation before taking on such large-scale projects. BP was definitely focused on short term gain, considering it was concentrated on cutting its costs as fast as possible, rather than investing in the proper resources to fuel its longevity. As Sinek (2016) would say, BP should have, “organized their resources and decision making around the infinite contest that to frustrate and outlast their competition”. Having proper resources would have been allocating more attention towards safety precautions, and perhaps alternative engineering design, to protect the company’s health in the long run. Great point that employees are less likely to communicate well when they feel as though their jobs may be on the line. The scenario showed a great example of a poorly designed incentive plan as a quality one must motivate employees to be both productive and collaborative. What would have been a better incentive plan?


Sinek, Simon. 2016. “Most Leaders Don’t Even Know the Game They’re In.” Live2Lead 2016. YouTube. Nov. 2, 2016. Video, 35:08.