Case Detail

Case Summary

BP's Office of the Chief Technology Officer (B): Driving Open Innovation through an Advocate Team

Case Number: 5-407-752(B), Year Published: 2015

HBS Number: KEL892

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Authors: Robert C. Wolcott; Michael J Lippitz

Key Concepts

Business process improvement, Information technology, Innovation, Knowledge management, Organizational design, Project management, R&D, Technology management


The (A) case describes the evolution between 1999 and 2005 of an unusual innovation team within the office of the chief information officer at oil and gas giant BP. This team helped business units conceive, develop, and implement novel, value-added applications for emerging information technologies. The team leader, vice president and chief technology officer Phiroz Darukhanavala (“Daru”), eschewed a large group and venture budget in favor of a small, lean team intimately engaged with BP’s business units. The case describes several mechanisms created by the CTO office during its early evolution: “Blue Chalk” events that expanded executives’ appreciation of emerging technology capabilities, a network of relationships through which emerging technologies were scouted and vetted, a structured technology transfer process, and annual “game-changer” projects.

The (B) case describes how the CTO office team members in 2011 again solicited advice from their ecosystem of thought leaders and held workshops to significantly enhance their impact. As a result, they began developing solutions for broader, more fundamental business problems that came to be known as Grand Challenges: extremely difficult business problems whose solutions could potentially create hundreds of millions—or billions—of dollars in business value.

Learning Objectives

After reading and analyzing the case, students will be able to:

  • Understand the management challenges associated with realizing the business value of new technologies
  • Explore how innovation management evolves as an innovation team learns from its successes and failures and, more importantly, builds a reputation within and outside the company
  • Examine a prototypical “advocate” model of corporate entrepreneurial practice
  • Explore a leading example of a successful internal innovation program

Number of Pages: 2

Language: Spanish

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Technology

Teaching Note Available: Yes

Geographic: Global

Industry: Oil and gas, Energy

Organization Name: BP, p.l.c.

Organization Department: Office of the Chief Information Officer

Organization Size: Large

Decision Maker Position: Chief Technology Officer

Decision Maker Gender: Male

Year of Case: 2011