Operational Learning - When Does It Start and When Does It End?

  • Type:
    Conference Presentation
  • Conference Type:
    AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety
  • Presentation Date:
    August 19, 2020
  • Duration:
    20 minutes
  • Skill Level:
  • PDHs:

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Miller, Chelsea Miller, Chelsea 2 188 2019-10-01T22:10:00Z 2019-10-01T22:10:00Z 2 712 4065 33 9 4768 16.00 0x010100607D85A62AD9A742A13CFBB01B1B20DC

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normal">Operational learning - when does it start and when does it end?

normal">CCPS 2020 Abstract

Presenters: Chelsea Miller, Erik Schwarze

Back-up Presenters: Sahika Korkmaz, Abbe Barr


This presentation will share Chevron’s operational learning
journey to understand the blue line - or in other words, to understand how work
actually happens.  Why do we want to learn about how work actually happens?  When we understand the blue line, we’re able
to strengthen our safeguards and increase our capacity to fail safely.  Fatality prevention starts with ensuring
safeguards are in place and functioning effectively.     

What is operational learning?  Operational learning provides for continuous
feedback loops that allow for constant learning and improving.  Its focus is on learning about the complexity
and normal variability of work, the adaptive nature of workers attempting to
complete their tasks and how failure and success really occur in the field
where work happens.  Chevron has formalized
and standardized a suite of safeguard verification tools in each phase of work.  There are many avenues for learning.  Both successes and unexpected outcomes
provide opportunities to learn, improve and strengthen safeguards.  Learnings can be lost overtime if only held
by individuals; therefore, operational knowledge must be captured easily and
effectively and swiftly embedded into our systems, technologies and processes.

This presentation will discuss how operational learning
takes many forms, with a variety of different tools.  Learning requires processes that support both
proactive and systematic approaches and integration into operations with the
specific intent to strengthen safeguards and mitigate risk. 

Business Impact:

One of the newest approaches to operational learning that Chevron
has taken is through learning teams.  Learning
teams are a method of improving work processes by engaging the people closest
to the work. This often results in better improvements and solutions to issues;
and, increasingly better commitment and accountability from the workforce.  Learning teams are less formal than most incident
investigation techniques and focus on learning and improvement rather than on identifying
errors and mistakes.  This can lead to
more honest conversations.  Learning
teams incorporate human & organizational performance by identifying error
traps and latent conditions, and can be useful for
learning from both normal work and events.   

minor-latin">Through its journey, Chevron has found that for optimal learning
team deployment results, the organization should first focus on gaining broad
acceptance of human & organizational performance concepts.  The next step is to build the enthusiastic support
of business leaders by equipping them.  For
example, Chevron conducts awareness sessions with leaders to ensure they
understand what a learning team is and how best to support the concept.  Leaders encourage the team to focus on
learning, rather than fixing.  Leaders
establish an environment of trust and open communication.  Finally, leaders must understand how important
it is to be open to hearing, particularly when it conflicts with their
views.  It’s when those conflicts are
exposed that deep learning can occur.   

minor-latin">Other tools in Chevron’s operational learning toolbox include
safeguard verification discussions in the various phases of work: design,
pre-job, job execution and post-job. 
Chevron employs different tools in each phase of work to be able to
better facilitate a rich safeguard verification discussion, i.e. start of shift
meeting, JSA, hazard analysis, joint job walks, work permit, start work checks,


minor-latin">There two significant challenges when a business unit shifts its
focus to operational learning:  

mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin">Leaders have to be
ready to hear the truth and thus foster an environment of openness and trust to
enable sharing learnings, issues, gaps and vulnerabilities.

mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin">If leaders ask its workforce to address vulnerabilities
in work and in safeguards, the business has to be equipped to quickly and
effectively capture those learnings and improvement suggestions,
and be able to respond and react quickly and effectively.  

Takeaways for Audience:

minor-latin">The overarching goal of operational learning is to build a culture
of safeguard verification.  Such a
culture is in an endless pursuit to understand how normal work gets done in the
field and how to verify safeguards.  This
requires a shift in thinking in how we engage, ask questions and respond.  When the business focuses on operational learning,
we can more easily identify and fix the vulnerabilities in our safeguards.


minor-latin">Human & Organizational Performance

minor-latin">Operational Learning


minor-latin">Learning Teams

minor-latin">Safeguard Verification



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