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The National Oil Company of Abu Dhabi (ADNOC) is a state enterprise responsible for the exploration and development of oil and gas resources. Over the past years, the organization has earned a good reputation in the petroleum industry, fulfilling its obligations to public companies and markets. To reveal its pain points, it seems essential to conduct interviews with the company representatives.
The first respondent will be the CEO of the organization, who will be asked to describe the overall performance along with current challenges and opportunities. The second respondent will be the Sales and Trading Directorate Director, who is expected to provide a review regarding the marketing and sales department. The third and the fourth interviewees will be the employees of the organization from the Human Resource Department. They will provide valuable information about the organization from their standpoints, thus ensuring the comprehensive analysis of its experience. The focus of the interviews will be paid to such concepts as meetings.
Applying design thinking skills, it is possible to state that the first point of discovery includes the processes of data gathering from interviewees and understanding the unmet needs. The analysis of four interviews shows that ADNOC is a rather successful organization, which plays a great role in Abu Dhabi’s economic development and diversification. Its executive management is marked by stating the clear goals and objectives to achieve.
For example, its 2030 strategy statement aims at outlining the purpose of the performance in both short- and long-term perspectives. Moreover, ADNOC has a properly elaborated code of conduct system, which establishes ethical and legal standards for all employees (“Code of conduct,” 2017). It should also be emphasized that the organization strives to improve eco-friendly performance by preserving Abu Dhabi’s hydrocarbon resources.
The analysis of conversations with respondents indicates that there are various branches and departments, each of which requires centralized management. As noted by Plattner, Meinel, and Leifer (2012), the point of definition in design thinking research focuses on the ideation of challenges or pain points. Considering that ADNOC involves several departments, it seems that there is a need for their integrity and closer collaboration.
For example, it may be difficult to manage the same idea through them because of the weak understanding of the main purpose. In other words, it is necessary to initiate meetings promptly, so that every employee may understand the general idea and apply it in practice. The following Figure 1 demonstrates the journey map analysis approach that was used to analyze the organization.
According to the design process suggested by the Design Council (UK), the following points of development and delivery should be clarified as well. In terms of developing, it is critical to focus on human-centered innovation. Since employees compose the key resource of the organization, they should be involved in the improvement process. Deep understanding and early awareness of the needs the company experiences are important to implement the ideas of design thinking. Speaking of the specific experience collected from the respondents, one may stress that all of them told about their meetings and experience of working for the given organization. The above analysis is built upon their attitudes.
How might we (HMW) questions constitute a powerful tool to define the issue and comprehend its details. To frame the ideation regarding ADNOC analysis and conduct brainstorming, it seems appropriate to come up with several provoking questions. The following questions were formulated in the course of brainstorming:
- HMW improves existing employee satisfaction in terms of meetings? This is the paramount goal of the analysis and the key question to be answered.
- HMW design these meetings to innovate their format and make them more effective? Creativity and innovation are the two cornerstones of design thinking, which promote the most relevant solutions.
- HMW re-consider the organization’s internal communication without meetings? This question focuses on the opposite point exploration. Sometimes to create an idea, it is essential to consider it from a different angle.
- HMW help employees to feel greater satisfaction with their work? This question pays attention to emotions, thus contributing to the understanding of the nature of communication.
- HMW implements the element of timely feedback, be it positive or negative? Considering that every employee needs to be aware of the results of his or her performance, it is of paramount importance to provide them with feedback.
In my point of view, the last question is the most critical and specific. It requires the use of both creative thinking and decision-making, thus perfectly fitting the very purpose of design thinking research. Consistent with Johansson‐Sköldberg, Woodilla, and Çetinkaya (2013), I believe that feedback is a powerful tool that can highly motivate and inspire employees by empowering them to explore new ways of improving their performance. In particular, it seems that feedback is much more visible than any expensive audit to show the strengths and weaknesses of the organization. It helps to organize and compare the views of employees on the process of work and colleagues throughout the company.
The company managers and department managers receive information from employees regularly, which they can in turn use to improve management processes. The results of feedback are likely to help to solve problems at the initial stage, allowing management to track the dynamics and draw the appropriate conclusions from the results of subsequent quarters. Therefore, for example, based on the meetings supported by feedback, one can even prevent the dismissal of valuable personnel, giving them time to develop.
At this point, the strategy to be selected to implement feedback practice should be elaborated and specific to fit both the organization’s goals and employees’ views. In this particular case, it is possible to recommend choosing an online instrument of Google forms and design debriefings for every employee and team in general.
As a result of brainstorming, eight ideas were considered. However, only three of them were regarded as actually valuable and worth turning one’s attention to. The first solution selected in the course of team discussion is to improve employee satisfaction during and after meetings using introducing a new format. Applying the technique of preliminary prototyping, it is useful to present the design of such a meeting. In particular, a new format involves such elements as the introductory notification of meeting participants and the provision of themes to be discussed. This will help them to prepare for the meeting and ponder over its topics to come up with innovative ideas. More to the point, meetings will be organized in such a manner that will be comfortable for all participants.
The second solution refers to the provision of feedback. Liedtka (2014) claims that design thinking leads to the fact that all employees stay involved in the working process as highly interested members. It is possible to suggest feedback as a service to be applied as a post-meeting event. Thus, the results of the performance will influence, let us say, the results of the questionnaire and the feedback meetings held.
For example, with good results, managers and employees will evaluate each other’s work positively and outline new ways of development, while with neutral or negative outcomes, there is also a reason to identify the causes and improving teamwork. The preliminary prototype identified above seems to be rather workable and relevant to the given situation.
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As for the third solution, one may note that it is associated with the alternative to meetings. The discussion revealed that several team members support the idea of changing traditional meetings into the virtual ones. Using Google forms and some other online platforms and tools, it is possible to organize conferences and increase the effectiveness of collective discussions. Such a format provides larger opportunities for employees to express their opinion and be heard by others as well as to receive feedback. It is advisable to select the best ideas, and not to reject the worst: what seemed unsuitable now, may come in handy later.
One does not need to establish authorship of ideas since the best ideas are always a product of collective creativity. At the same time, this solution allows employers to collect valuable information and ensure their employees with greater work satisfaction, thus enhancing the level and depth of the internal communication within the organization.
Code of conduct. (2017). Web.
Johansson‐Sköldberg, U., Woodilla, J., & Çetinkaya, M. (2013). Design thinking: Past, present and possible futures. Creativity and Innovation Management, 22(2), 121-146.
Liedtka, J. (2014). Innovative ways companies are using design thinking. Strategy & Leadership, 42(2), 40-45.
Plattner, H., Meinel, C., & Leifer, L. (Eds.). (2012). Design thinking research: Measuring performance in context. New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media.