Engage Management

Project Success Stories

The Aztec Well Service / SSS Project

by Jimmie Hart

Engage Management was engaged by ConocoPhillips in October 2006 to work with its drilling contractor Aztec Well Servicing (AWS), in the San Juan Basin. This project was focused on the drilling division of AWS. A second project was initiated by AWS in September 2007 to work with its trucking division, SSS Trucking. While both projects had their own areas of attention, there was also some overlap where initiatives were taken that involved management personnel of all AWS divisions. The goal for both of the Engage Management project teams was to develop and sustain a culture that is focused on safety. This required interaction at all levels, from senior management to field operations. Opportunities for improvement were identified, new programs were developed, existing programs were updated or re-invigorated, and on-going field level coaching was used to not only implement these programs, but to reinforce behavior to gain buy-in and to ensure sustainability after the project end.


The focus on Cultural Change within the family of AWS companies has had a positive effect that has contributed to an overall improvement in safety performance. AWS and SSS are positioned to continue along this path of Continuous Improvement by sustaining the programs that are now in place. Over the course of these two projects, TRIR showed dramatic improvements for all three of the divisions that TAG was working with: AWS Drilling, SSS Heavy Haul, and SSS Water Haul.This report includes a summary of major activities undertaken by Engage Management with samples of output illustrating the results.


AWS Drilling

STOP the Job Drill TM
This campaign was designed to encourage all employees to take ownership of safety by encouraging all parties to STOP unsafe acts. Scenario cards were designed through consultation with the crews. These cards are used to present the crews with real life situations where stopping the card would be appropriate. The crews then use these situations in the Stop the Job drills. Through regular drills all employees are able to achieve a comfort level that will allow unsafe acts to be addressed by all employees.

Throughout the project JHA coaching remained a constant theme. Through direct participation and individual coaching Engage Management was able to assist AWS in improving the JHA process to make it a more valuable tool. Active participation by all attendees was encouraged. Attendance by the rig managers and the company men was also an area that was addressed to ensure that the managers were active leaders in the process.

Hazard Hunt
This tool was created to encourage the rig crews and leadership to take the opportunity to look and learn. Through this exercise, the rig teams learned to stop and look around on a regular basis, and they were able to indentify issues that formerly would have gone un-noticed and un-changed. Over time, the Hazard Hunt has evolved to include behavioral issues as well as physical issues. In doing so, the crews are learning that behavior can in fact be one of the greatest hazards on location.

Balancing of Expectations
This simple exercise was used to demonstrate that individual's perceptions of expectations and performance can be significantly different from what is thought. Often, as proven by the exercise there is a misunderstanding in what we perceive as the expectation and what the expectation really is. By allowing the parties to list their perceived expectations we were are able to illustrate clearly what the expectations are.

Site Security
Site security was identified as an important first step in establishing a focus on safety on the rigs. Engage Management assisted the AWS crews in developing; signage, a sign-in and sign out policy, and an orientation process. Crew members were coached on how to present the orientation to all visitors. The issue of 100% compliance was stressed, and over time there has been a visible rise in the comfort level of those performing gate duty in enforcing AWS policy.

Individual Leadership Coaching
Engage Management has spent many months coaching individual leaders within AWS and SSS on the fundamentals of leadership. We have seen the change; it is our observations that individually these men and women have reached new heights in the world of leadership. Through constant direct support, the players involved have not only seen the tools available to be a good leader, but have illustrated their usages on a daily basis.

Team Development through Video
Part of the over-all approach to development and learning that Engage Management offers is the creation of customer and subject specific videos (see AWS Group of Companies). These videos are used in training related meetings such as safety stand-downs, and copies are provided to all rigs for periodic review by the crews. In order to achieve maximum benefit from these videos, the Engage Management consultants regularly facilitated mini-training sessions on location, using the videos to reinforce specific messages with the crews, and to ensure that new crew members also became familiar with the subject matter.

Superintendant Ride-Along Program
This concept was developed to provide a more one on one environment between Engage Management and the AWS superintendants. This proved to be a great success allowing the Engage Management coaches to be present for the interaction between rig management, teams and COCP leaders to offer not only support to the superintendants but direct coaching on how to address the daily challenges associated with leadership at this level.

SSS Trucking - Rig-Up
The focus of attention for the Angelina / SSS team throughout 2008 was the Rig Up department. During that time, we helped introduce new procedures for move planning and coordination, safety meetings, Stop the Job drills, field observation cards, and JHAs. In addition, we guided the development of integrated documentation systems for scheduling, creation of Rig Move packets, and Route Surveys.

Regular Pusher Meetings
In seeking ways to develop the leadership team, it was suggested that regular managers meetings would be of value. These meetings were to be held on a weekly basis, and would provide a forum for discussion between all of the Truck managers, the assistant manager and the general manager. One of the goals for these meetings was to ensure that everyone had the same information, and understood their goals and plans. The general manager was encouraged to develop an agenda to provide structure to the meeting and to ensure that attendees would feel that they received full value for their participation.

Move Planning and Coordination
Planning and coordination was a key area of attention and communications was a big factor. The major elements of move planning and coordination were: Morning meetings, the Rig Move Packet, Location safety meetings and Route Surveys

Morning Meetings
The 'morning meeting' was established as a key component for Move Planning and Coordination. The purpose of the meeting is to start the day off right, by assembling all participants of the move for a discussion about the planned day's activities prior to any vehicles leaving the yard. The truck managers were coached on how to conduct a meeting and the type of issues that should be discussed. These discussion points included but were not restricted to: weather and road conditions, directions to location, review of route survey, equipment assignment (trailers, ramps...), specific job assignments, etc.

Rig Move Packet
All of the information that pertained to the move was assembled into a single document called the Rig Move Packet. This was a compilation of many pieces of disparate information that prior to the development of the Rig Move Packet, may or may not have been made available to the truck managers. An Excel spreadsheet system was developed to act as a single source for the information that is assembled into the Rig Move Packet.

Information Systems Development
This was phase 2 of the information systems development that centers on the Rig Move Packet. Phase 1 established the importance of such processes. The rig move packet was developed as an Excel file, which served well as a prototyping environment, but is not a platform on which to build integrated systems that can provide effective management tools for the long term. Engage Management provided analytical support for the development of the phase 2 requirements for which David Lipnick (AWS in-house systems developer) assumed the task of creating database structures and writing the user interface programs.

Location Safety Meetings
The 'Location Safety Meeting' is a tool to encourage across the board communication between all entities involved in the rig move process. Early on it was discovered that there were multiple tasks being completed during every rig move with very little communication, if any, between all the parties involved. This safety meeting format is in essence a JHA discussion for everyone on location during a rig move. It was developed to gather everyone involved in all activities on location in a conversation about their individual roles as well as the hazards associated with all activities. This meeting has not only served to inform the whole team of the hazards associated with the work being done on location but has also served to foster an environment of cooperation among all the players involved in the tasks being completed on location.

Route Survey
The need for detailed and specific route planning was identified as a key contributor to a successful rig move. Recognizing this point, SSS took the initiative of hiring personnel who would be responsible for creating route surveys, and for coordinating escort services, whether provided by SSS personnel or by third parties. Engage Management has assisted this manager through the learning process associated with developing better route surveys. This included discussions of what information should be collected, how to collect it, and how to document it. The SSS route survey is now recognized as the leader in the San Juan Basin.

STOP the Job
Engage Management helped with the preparation of STOP the Job materials that are specific to the Rig Up operation. In order to do this, we facilitated meetings with the Truck Managers, and sought input from managers, drivers and swampers on scenarios that would be relevant to their operation. All of this information was assembled into a STOP card format that was reviewed and edited a number of times by the management group prior to being approved in its final form.

Best Practices
Engage Management started to develop written Best Practices for rig moves. Each Best Practice is to be rig specific, and pertain to individual pieces of equipment on that rig. These documents were to list each step required to pick up, load, move and put down a piece of equipment. They can be used for training purposes, reference at a job site, and the source of job steps for a well developed JHA. The Best Practice development will require further development prior to deployment. The material that has been developed to date has been provided to Mr. Ken Kempa in the AWS safety department. Ken will be developing Best Practices for all divisions in the coming months.

SSS Trucking - Water Haul

Leadership Forums

These bi-weekly forums provided an opportunity for open discussion between all truck managers, their assistants, and the service manager. At each session, a specific leadership subject was discussed. The managers were then encouraged to try out the techniques that they had learned and provide feedback at the next forum. As a result of these forums, the managers developed a tool-kit of techniques that they can use in a variety of situations.

Ride-Along Program

To develop relationships and to encourage open communications, the Engage Management consultants would ride with the truck managers on a regular basis. This full day of one-on-one time was extremely valuable as it gave the truck managers the time and opportunity to open up in their own environment. Lessons learned in the Leadership Forums were often reinforced in this one-on-one time as the Truck Managers found it more comfortable to raise questions and issues and talk with the Engage Management consultants on approaches that could be taken to resolve them.

Business Analysis and Planning

Leadership development at the general manager level was focused on business analysis and planning. Jointly, we identified key success factors that should be reviewed on a frequent basis and then created new systems to automate the collection and reporting of that information. This involved both updating of current data entry methods, and the introduction of some new Excel programs to automatically capture summary information. The general manager now has the ability to review up-to-date performance data on a daily basis. This is leading to more business oriented discussions with his management team with the intent of helping them to develop as managers who incorporate longer term thinking along with their day-to-day operational requirements in their planning processes.

AWS Group of Companies

Arrows Academy

Engage Management facilitated a number of 2 day leadership development courses for managers of all divisions. These interactive, hands-on sessions helped to instill specific leadership concepts within the team of rig mangers, drillers, truck managers, superintendents and division managers.

Training Videos

Engage Management shares the belief with AWS management that video is a powerful medium and an important tool in a learning based organization. The Engage Management video production department has created a number of videos in the San Juan Basin some of which were commissioned in whole or in part by Aztec Well Servicing. These include; "Job Hazard Analysis", "Truckers JTZ", "Fall Rescue", "We Got Your Back".

Poster Campaign

This campaign was designed to illustrate management's commitment to safety. AWS leaders were highlighted with words of encouragement towards working safely. The campaign was useful in painting a picture of leadership buy-in to the safety program by encouraging all employees to work safely. The original poster campaign was focused on drilling operations; however the concept was later expanded to include both divisions of SSS Trucking. These posters are now highly visible throughout all locations including the offices, warehouses, lunch rooms, meeting rooms, dog houses and safety shacks.

Regular Leadership meetings

These regularly scheduled meetings were designed to improve inter-divisional communications and planning within AWS group of companies. The two Engage Management project teams facilitated bi-weekly meetings for the AWS leadership team. The participants included; drilling superintendents, daylight operations superintendent, general managers and assistant general managers from SSS Rig Up, SSS Waterhaul, MM Sales, Totah Rentals and representatives from the safety department. The goals for these meetings included:

Weekly administrative meetings

Throughout these projects Engage Management has maintained regular communication with the Aztec Group of Companies administrative members. This was a crucial element to ensure all parties understood the daily goals and objectives of the Engage Management members in the field. Through this relationship Engage Management was able to establish and foster a relationship of trust that allowed us to work through issues as they arose.

Field Observation Cards

Through positive reinforcement and illustrated commitment, Engage Management was able to aid in this initiative. While the process is still growing daily, the concept of the Observation Card has caught on within the AWS Group of Companies and the reporting numbers continue to climb.


Engage Management had the opportunity to work with three divisions of the Aztec Well Servicing group of companies. While each project had its own focus, there were also areas of overlap that helped to develop a more robust safety culture across the entire organization.

The grass roots coaching approach employed by the Engage Management consultants resulted in strong personal relationships which lead to the trust needed for AWS personnel to be willing to try new ideas, and even more importantly, to offer their own ideas for improvement.

Our ongoing presence in the field was instrumental in reinforcing these ideas which lead to many noticeable behavioral changes. It is these ingrained behaviors that lead to a cultural shift that is sustainable for the long term.

At the conclusion of these projects, Engage Management is confident that Aztec Well Servicing and SSS Trucking have an enhanced Safety and Performance culture to which Engage Management made a positive contribution. Our role was to guide and influence, with the goal of AWS and SSS personnel assuming ownership of the new directions so that they are prepared to continue the positive growth when we depart.

The wheels have been set in motion; new programs have been developed and implemented, existing programs have been re-invigorated, and behaviors and attitudes have developed in a positive way. This culture can be sustained and in fact can continue to improve through the diligence of its management team, with a visible presence in the field and on-going positive reinforcement of the "AWS Safety Performance Culture".