Tech20: Make people feel safe to spark innovation in oil and gas

Oil and gas companies need to make their employees feel safe in order to cultivate innovation, according to Tendeka’s emergent technologies director.

John Hunter has been speaking at the first Tech20 event, hosted yesterday by the Oil and Gas Technology Centre.

The series of weekly talks have been set up to inspire a “culture of innovation” among companies in Aberdeen.

Mr Hunter says there are challenges presented in cultivating that ethos among firms experiencing a downturn.

“There’s only two things you need to be creative and you’ve got to feel you have permission to do it and you’ve got to feel safe. If your company wants to be successful, you need to come up with your own ideas.

“That’s difficult because people don’t feel safe, particularly in a downturn market. Lots of people in business just want to keep their heads down and get the job done.

“Give people a bit of flexibility, make them feel safe.”

In order to do that, the team at Tendeka, a completions systems specialist, has started a “Spark” programme.

These are a series of two-hour workshops that are a safe space for employees across the company to voice ideas and to sit and work out problems.

One success from that has been the filing of a patent for batteries for wireless well downhole devices which would be manufactured downhole rather than at the surface.

This means a reduced level of decay and it is estimated they could increasing the life of the batteries from around 7 years to 15-20 years.

“We’re trying to build a culture where everyone is innovative and creative and thinks of a better way of doing things. Our business is founded on technology that is different and creative”, Mr Hunter added.

“We’re building the culture, which takes a long time.

“The Spark programme has been set up to try to get everyone to sit down to think about problems and solve them. Hopefully over time that will become cultural and we won’t need to sit down for these meetings.”

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