A Strategy To Change The Transportation System Commerce Essay


In response to evidence of global warming and climate change, large business corporations in Nigeria that were seen as major culprits of climate change in the sub-region, are now 'leaving no stone unturned' to ensure sustainability of their operations. One of such crucial areas of interest is the provision of efficient and effective transport systems, aimed at reducing the carbon footprint. Sustainable transportation system for example, would make great contributions not only to socio-economic development of Nigeria; but also, to global climate change mitigation. With all these numerous benefits however, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)-a leader in Oil & Gas business in Africa, is still grappling with its transport system, to make it more sustainable. NNPC as a very large corporation, with over fourteen subsidiary companies (home and abroad); is still within the league of corporate organisations where staff ownership of many cars is still encouraged-(with one employee keeping 2-3 vehicles in and around the corporation premises). For a group with over eleven thousand (11,000) employees spread all over its subsidiaries; and with a vision of becoming "World-Class Oil and Gas Company driven by Shared Commitment to Excellence" [source: nnpcgroup website], still maintaining such practice as part of its corporate culture is unacceptable. In NNPC group today, staff usage of private cars to work sites is still preferred to public transportation system. For instance, a particular division with one hundred employees would have at least hundred & fifty staff cars parked on its premises; instead of say; four (4) number 25-seat coaster buses to convey all these staffs to work. If one equates such number of cars across eleven thousand personnel, how many cars would you expect? And how much would that translate to magnitude of the carbon footprint? And what will be the implications of that to global warming & climate change? In sustainability terms, such a transport system is inefficient, ineffective, counterproductive and indeed unsustainable. In view of such significant sustainability challenge, I as a real employee of this corporation would by this report; devise a strategy to make the transportation system across NNPC group more sustainable over time. It is anticipated that this proposed strategy is a 'deep-culture' paradigm change-that is not a short-term/quick-fix change, but a longer-term strategy that would unfold stage by stage across the entire corporation.

2.0 The Organization: (Background/Characteristics)

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Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was incorporated on 1st April 1977, as an integrated oil & gas company; with its operations covering the entire spectrum of the oil & gas industry: from crude oil exploration/production to oil refining/products marketing, as well as oil/gas export to shipping/terminal operations. As the name implies; NNPC is owned and funded by the Federal Government of Nigeria, and it provides over 90% of the nation's foreign exchange earnings (from oil & gas exports). It has its headquarters in the federal capital Abuja, Nigeria.

The corporation is made up of large group of companies, and is headed by a Group Managing Director (GMD)-who oversees the entire management of the group. The NNPC group is broadly divided into six directorates, all headed by Executive Directors (EDs)-who reports to the GMD. The six directorates are sub-divided into over fourteen subsidiary companies known as (Strategic Business Units-SBUs), and over eleven Corporate Services Units (CSUs). The SBUs are headed by Managing Directors (MDs) and the CSUs by Group General Managers (GGMs); of equivalent rank with the MDs-who all report to their respective EDs. This hierarchical structure continues through General Managers (GMs) to Substantive Managers (Mgrs) and Deputy Managers (DMs) to Supervisory Level Officers (where I am presently). The hierarchy continues down to senior officers and junior staffs across the entire corporation. Unlike many other corporate organizations, NNPC at the moment has no Board of Directors; as the GMD reports directly to presidency.

In its mission statement: "NNPC is an integrated Oil and Gas Company, engaged in adding value to the nation's hydrocarbon resources for the benefit of all Nigerians and other stakeholders" [source: nnpcgroup website], and its Vision is: "NNPC will be a world-class oil and gas company driven by shared commitment to excellence" [source: nnpcgroup website].

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My job in NNPC as at today is that of Engineer Projects Planning, in Engineering & Technology Division; at the Corporate Headquarters-Abuja. As a supervisor heading a project team, I report direct to the GM-Technical Services. A very powerful and influential general manager that is well respected by all his subordinates; who also has good listening ears of top management. I am also the elected incumbent secretary of Petroleum & Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), and Secretary General of the joint senior and junior staff trade unions in NNPC. Therefore, since my destination in this proposed change agenda is by definition not easy to describe or measure, my role as a 'change agent' will seek to make effective use of my influential manager, my group general manager and my own popularity as a grassroots 'union man', to facilitate the emergence of this change.

3.0 The Sustainability Challenge and Need for Change:

On the path of sustainability, NNPC is not there yet. It needs to be changed at different stages towards greater sustainability. For example, the current practice of transportation across NNPC group as highlighted earlier is unsustainable. With its vision to become one of the global leaders in oil & gas business, NNPC is expected to embrace both business and cultural change that would depict that leadership status in its business area; such as that practiced in the likes of BP, Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil etc.

The contribution of NNPC through responsible transportation system is a key step towards maintaining a healthier and sustainable environment. In view of this, I as 'change agent' for the organization will craft here, a strategy that would aim at a turnaround of the transportation system in NNPC-for greater sustainability of the environment. My position and role in NNPC may not be at GMD cadre, to expressly hand down a 'top-bottom' change command. But, "whatever role you play, in whatever organization-change is needed" [Ainger. ESD2. 2010]. So, my fundamental role in this change agenda is to first, define clearly what my vision for the change is-as to what the future of transportation system in NNPC with respect to sustainability should look like. I will attempt to align the staff with my vision, and inspire them to make it happen; despite the obstacles we might likely encounter in the cause of our actions.

As earlier mentioned, the proposed strategy will be a 'deep culture' paradigm change, and all difficulties about such a change are anticipated at all levels. It is not a 'short-term quick-win' solution, but a long-term strategy that would unfold stage by stage across NNPC group. Considering the size of NNPC as a group of companies, this change obviously is not a one-straight-change, but the first part of a larger process (aimed to begin at corporate headquarters-Abuja); which hopefully, will gradually cut across other SBUs & CSUs in the group. The threshold of my entry as 'change agent', to initiate and facilitate this change is extremely high-considering my level and rank in my organization. However, I hope to effectively utilize my line manager as a connecting bridge to get across to top management, and solicit their strategic commitment to the vision. The main tactic here is to first; look for the right business case argument, find 'best practice' external examples and use the right language to win peoples' hearts. I will also use images, stories as well as reports from other organizations in similar practice; to support my idea. I choose my immediate General Manager as connecting bridge because; he is very courageous and has value-adding entrepreneurial ideas; which he is willing and able to release, that I can tap from. He is also a very flexible man who has listening ears of top management, at the same time; a complete 'grassroots' man that is very much in touch with lower cadre employees to facilitate change.

4.0 The Proposed Change/Actions:

My ultimate VISION in this change proposal, is to see NNPC employees across the group embrace use of communal transport system as the primary means of staff transportation to work locations-(aimed at cutting down CO2 emissions), as opposed to the use of individual cars. If possible, I will encourage staff to own at most one car at a time, as against 2-3 cars presently owned by many of our staffs. The rationale to propose this kind of cultural change in transport usage is based on the premise that most of these staff cars in question are not brand new cars, but second hand cars (called 'Tokumbo' in Nigeria-meaning already used car). Because they are very old, the rate of consumption of fuel in the engine is also very high. This then translates to emissions of higher tones of CO2 per day into the atmosphere-leading to increase in global warming and climate change; which is currently a global threat to humanity. I will also propose use of bicycles alongside, as another alternative to public transport system-using my 'Cambridge Bicycle Experience' as example. This is particularly necessary for employees living in corporation's quarters very close to work locations like refineries. [I must emphasize here that I am really impressed with my 'Cambridge Bicycle Experience'. It is one of the things I will definitely take home and practice all the way. For I am always fascinated whenever I see Professors and Top executives of organizations in Cambridge, cycling to their offices-(something I have never witnessed in my country). Only serious minded people would see this kind of vision concerning the future]. Since this is a 'bottom-up' change strategy, gaining the confidence of top management would also be a tough challenge. But in the words of John Kotter, "I have never seen an organisation in which the entire top management is against change, in the worst cases, 20 - 30% seems to know and want to do something" [Kotter, John. L.C. 1996]. On this basis, I will also propose to management as a loop to the change, the procurement of new buses in addition to the few existing; to serve as staff public transport system. Part of the hurdles I may have to cross from top management point of view, for purchase of brand new buses for public transport use might be issues of resource and budget constraints. But I will find ways of bypassing these limiting resources and budget constraints issues, by persuading allies and supporters from middle management who would make a case for me. Also, to avoid the possibility of being undermined in my change by colleagues, my first strong hold is to create a powerful coalition among my staff unions; strong enough to support and guide jealously the initiative, and work very closely with them. "All change requires a mix of 'top-down' systems and vision, and 'bottom-up' consensus and commitment" [Ainger. ESD2. 2010]. In view of this, I hope to get top management involved in this change strategy through persuasive presentations on the issue, and equally mobilize my colleagues through enlightenments at union meetings.

5.0 The Proposed Strategy and Additional Tactics:

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Because they have enormous powers at their disposal, top management is always seen as the key actors in any change. But for this change strategy, that concept is definitely not the case. In my change strategy, 'grassroots' mobilization and powerful coalition with NNPC workforce is going to be my main strategy to succeed in the change (Participative Strategy). The business case argument to use here is public interest because; the accepted rationale is customers (i.e. response to global call to reduce CO2 emissions and enhance environmental conditions); which NNPC as a giant player in oil & gas business in Nigeria must respond with some level of urgency. However, "major change is usually impossible unless most employees are willing to help, and unless they really believe that a transformation is possible." [Ainger. ESD2. 2010]. For this reason, I will first discuss my vision with a few colleagues in a short meeting; but establish a sense of urgency and the need in it, and hear their responses. I will pay particular attention to their individual opinions, thoughts and feelings and encourage effective communication amongst us, to avoid any information being misconstrued. Since change towards sustainable development is not a defined straight destination, but a process that involve interactions, dialogue and to some extent 'horse-trading'; this particular change would only be successful, if actions are taken in all levels (i.e. top-down/bottom-up). There must be visionary commitment from top management, and a push passion from the staff, for the change to be actualized. For this reason also, the next step I would take in my strategy to see this happen, is to form a strong coalition with staff; by making my friends and colleagues understand the role of their actions in this vision and believe that it is worthwhile for them to actually participate in. I will also discuss the vision concisely, with my line manager and the GGM; whom I know will surely take it up. Since this is a bottom-up-meandering sort of change strategy, I don't have the mechanism to force it happen; but my major tactic is to make space for its emergence through persuasions of these identified powerful players, and setting the scene to allow things unfold gradually in this order: (develop vision/communicate vision/establish urgency/form coalition/empower others/ create quick-wins/receive feedbacks/consolidate strategy/institutionalize change). I develop my change strategy by using Personal Effectiveness and the 4-Dimensions of power approach (taught in ESD2); to analyze and understand the current status of transport system in NNPC, and the possibilities of change towards greater sustainability. The PE technique helped me to determine where we are now, and how I can personally be most effective in the change. The 4-Ds helped me to determine who can be helpful in driving the change and how to approach them. It also helped me to determine the likely outcomes in the change and equally place me on a better pedestal to manage my expectations and protect my emotions in the course of interactions with others for the change.

6.0 Dynamics of Planned Strategy: (Application of Lewin's & Mateso's Techniques)

6.1 Lewin's Approach: To be personal effective in instituting a change, action inquiry and good conversations are necessary [Ainger. ESD2. 2010]. In view of this, I will in this change strategy consider first, the three-phase change planning model developed by the social psychologist-Kurt Lewin-which includes: Unfreezing, Changing and Refreezing stages.

However, before analysing each of these change phases; it is imperative to emphasize here the basic assumptions that underlie the model, for this particular change proposal:

6.2 Basic Change Assumptions for the Strategy:

This change process involves learning something new about transportation system in NNPC, as well as halting current mentality, attitudes, and organizational behavioral practices amongst NNPC staff.

That this change can only occur if NNPC staff and management are strongly motivated and committed to the change.

That staff are the hub of the change process and individual acceptance is critical for the change to be actualized.

That the change can only be effective if there are reinforcing new behaviors, attitudes, and organizational practices from NNPC staff.

Tension/Resistance to change is anticipated in this change even with highly desirable goals.

6.2.1 Unfreezing Stage:

This stage focuses on creating the motivation to change: Here, new vision on transportation system will first be communicated concisely to all staff through our union meetings, departmental meetings and individually. The entire NNPC staff will then be encouraged to embrace the new vision on transportation and replace their old behaviors and attitudes with the proposed culture and practice. Enthusiastic middle managers earlier identified will be fully utilized in information dissemination and motivational talk at sectional level.

6.2.2 Changing Stage:

Since this change involves learning by doing; this stage involves providing NNPC staff with new information (about the transport system), new/desired behavioral ways of doing/looking at things within and outside the corporation. At this stage, role models and mentors from the union executives and identified 'willing' divisional heads like my GM and GGM; with some external experts would be utilized as driving forces to benchmark NNPC against other world-class oil organizations such as: BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell etc. Internal training/workshops will be applicable and other useful mechanisms will be considered to facilitate the change.

6.2.3 Refreezing Stage:

This is the stage at which the change process is stabilized and instituted. Here, NNPC staff through joint unions, departments and management motivations; will be keenly helped to integrate into their working culture the changed behavior and attitude on transportation. At this stage, NNPC employees will be given the latitude to exhibit the new behaviors/attitudes towards the new transport system (i.e. whether they will embrace the use of public transport system or not). Once exhibited, positive reinforcement will be used to reinforce the desired change. This will largely be the responsibility of management. Additional coaching and mentoring will also be used at this stage to reinforce the stability of the change across corporate headquarters (starting point).

6.3 Mateso's Approach: The verbal change information represented in Lewin's model can be combined structurally using Mateso's model to illustrate the change process as shown below:


Define change Strategy

Unfreezing Stage

Refreezing Stage

Assess current Transport situation


the change


Select time



Communicate new Vision

Create new

Culture in


Overall Evaluation

Effective Leadership


Delineate new


Strategy Formulation

(NNPC Change Agent)

Design Strategy

Strategy Evaluation


Assess new





Activity Evaluation


Change Anchoring

Action Planning

Situation to be Changed

Individual Behaviors

Organizational Culture

(NNPC Staff)

Set activities

and timing

Change Results

Assess against agreed parameters

Desired Outcomes

Possible Outcomes?

Observation/Mgt of Influences

from External Sources

7.0 Desired Outcome/Possible Outcomes:

In the words of Charles Ainger; "70% of organizational change efforts fail to deliver most of the results" [Ainger. ESD2. 2010]. In view of this, I am certain that there is more than one future/destination to this change ambition. There is the possibility of failure or success, depending on the level of acceptance offered by NNPC employee/management to the change agenda. However, if responses to the change are positive as desired (for both bottom-up/top-bottom actions); the desired outcome to this change would also be to see NNPC staff embrace the use of public (communal) transportation to work-as the most sustainable way of reducing CO2 emissions and mitigating climate change; as opposed to increased use of individual old cars. This is based on the fact that as the number of old vehicle usage by employees is reduced; there will be a corresponding reduction if carbon emissions; which will equally lead to significant reduction of impacts on global warming and climate change. Part of the desired outcome to this change proposal, is to see NNPC management also, embrace the change efforts by providing visionary leadership and strategic direction for employees to follow. Crucial to this strategic exemplar leadership, is for management to approve as part its motivation for staff public transport usage; the purchase of brand new buses that would be used to convey employees to offices. While unanimous acceptance and compliance is the ultimate end result envisaged for this change, there are other internal forces that can undermine actualization of the change effort. These internal forces includes: individual and organizational resistance. Individual resistance here include factors such as: Self-Interest (where staff would still prefer the comfort their individual cars), Personality Conflicts (among staff to show ego), and Differing Perceptions (to the vision on perceived benefits) etc. The anticipated organizational sources of resistance to this change may include: Bureaucracy and delay in approval from top management, lack of continuity and staff motivation. Lack of interest and visionary leadership, and lack of adequate budgeting and resource allocation; among others. "It is expected that, for a change to be effective and successful, it requires innovation and not just compliance. It may also be able to draw on a deep well of staff interest and enthusiasm that can be connected to their values". [Ainger. ESD2. 2010]. I as the change agent will therefore, know the success or otherwise of this change strategy using any of these outcomes as a yardstick of measure. Should there be an overwhelming support from colleagues to the change vision, there is also the possibility that management will have no option than to yield to the yearnings of its employees by providing the new buses. Should the generality of the staff undermine the vision without support, there is also every tendency that management would overlook; as forcing down such a significant change can attract stiff resistance which could easily lead to agitations and subsequently failure.

8.0 Potential Barriers/Analysis:

Due to the dynamics in the external environment (external pressures to cut down carbon emissions and mitigate climate change), it is imperative that NNPC takes the lead to embark on this change. However, it is recognized that not every change process leads to the desired results. There are multiple barriers for potential failure. In this change for example, typical barriers may include: lack of interest and serious commitment on the part of NNPC management in supporting/implementation the change, as well as providing strategic direction. There can also be resistance from NNPC staff in embracing the change. Lack of adequate budget and resources for purchase of communal buses for staff may also be another barrier. Other potential barriers envisaged for the change may be skepticism from staff with views such as: it will be inconveniencing for us! Can you guarantee it's going to work for us? It's time consuming, etc.). Also, lack of cooperation from staff on other issues such as: (we don't need public buses; I prefer to use my car, others may even ask: under whose authority I am bringing the change etc). All these are likely barriers for this change proposal.

The implications of these to sustainable development is that: allowing these perceived barriers to undermine the vision may not only lead to failure, but it will certainly spell negative symbolism and equally rob NNPC (as a leading oil & gas company in Nigeria) of the opportunity to showcase the world that it is indeed on the path of sustainable development. On the part of NNPC management, the opportunity to prove visionary leadership in a critical area of global concern will be lost. To the 'change agent' and the active change team, they may be demoralized and will become dissatisfied with their performance. The end result will be that most of them will never again be willing to participate in any other change initiatives (irrespective of how brilliant the proposal might be). To the generality of staff, growing skepticism would certainly rule and they might perceive any future change projects as 'potential failed' initiatives. However, "to be personal effective in instituting a change; action inquiry and good conversations are necessary" [Ainger. ESD2. 2010]. Therefore, in the light of this, I as change agent have significant role to play that would impact on the success or failure of this change agenda. In order to overcome these barriers, my effective communications and persuasive ability to win the peoples' hearts across all levels of change interaction is paramount to ensuring success. I will effectively communicate and defend the need for this change through departmental and staff union meetings. I will also create an open and receptive environment for continued dialogue among change teams and members. Having understood clearly the cultural dynamics of NNPC; I will strive also to overcome these change barriers by persuading all the staff to get involved, and render their support and commitment. This I hope to achieve through the use of public communication skills, team building and networking abilities; I acquired over time in handling project teams and staff union activities.

9.0 Self Reflections/Conclusions:

As earlier highlighted, I am very sure there will be some resistance to this change. There will be tensions in the course of interactions for the change, but: "it's the tensions-the interactions- that produce change" [Ainger. ESD2. 2010]. Therefore, it is my ultimate hope and desire that my proposed change strategy will survive, and indeed succeed in putting the transportation system in NNPC on the path of sustainable development. I have taken on transportation system in NNPC as my change strategy in response to the alarming calls to save our planet (for our benefits and those of future generations). The internal changes I would like to see and believe whether my change strategy is successful are not only when the vision is accepted and supported by all and sundry; but when there is full compliance to the change. The moment NNPC management motivates the change, by purchasing new public buses for staff usage to office; the moment NNPC staffs (at corporate headquarters-for a start) embrace and commence the use of communal buses to work; I will know that the change is actualized and indeed instituted.

However, I am fully aware of the difficulties that might be involved in the change delivery. For instance, making people do something that they are not used to doing is a very frustrating task. There is always a feeling of awkwardness, ill-at-ease, and even self-conscious among the people; thereby exposing the 'change agent' to emotional traumas. Another irony here, as part of my expectations from NNPC staffs is the mentality and thought of what they will have to give up, and not what they will have to gain, if the change is instituted. For many staffs, the idea of saving the planet (by mitigating global warming and climate change) through reduction in CO2 emissions from our cars is something they cannot easily measure; hence, taking action for it now shouldn't even be a an option-talk more of priority. However, this is the stage that I as change agent will use my personal effectiveness skills and dynamism to persuade and convince the people for a change of attitudes and behavior. My underlying assumption for this change strategy is that; seeking change in a response for climate change and sustainability will cost, rather than save, money. This indeed is the language many corporate organizations (like my company) don't want to hear. They are always interested in opportunities you would initiate that would turn over more money for them, and not the one that will cost them money. But change of whatever type and kind is not one sided. The needs and the motivations are different; depending on the situation that calls for the change. In this particular change NNPC is expected to spend money to achieve longer term benefits. Staffs are also expected to shift from their present 'comfort zones' for sake for future benefits. In view of these, we have no option than to take action for the change all the way; and turnaround the current transport system in NNPC for a better planet and greater future for us and the generations yet unborn.