White Paper: Driving a Project with Leadership & Experience

By Allison Satterwhite

Authored By: Ted "Bench" Williams and Matt "Beav" Beaver


Whether ashore or at sea, maintenance projects are challenging, and if not managed correctly, are among the most difficult undertakings in the oil industry. The stakeholders involved have different priorities and agendas, making coordination among the project teams a challenge. The projects can easily fall behind schedule if constant oversight and direction are not properly applied. Project delays are often preventable and Total Maritime Solutions can minimize these delays.

Total Maritime Solutions

Check-6 Total Maritime Solutions (TMS) has a cadre of consultants who are uniquely qualified to improve and streamline these projects. Our team of Project Managers (PMs) are former senior naval officers who are now applying their expertise to the oil and gas industry. We have extensive backgrounds in the shipyard environment as commanding officers of naval ships and submarines and as leaders of large complex organizations. These backgrounds include both the demanding operational environment at sea and also the complex, engineering-focused atmosphere of shipyards. This dual background enables us to work as project managers, advisors, and trainers to project managers and their teams to better organize efforts, coordinate all workforces, and communicate effectively to the management team.

Every Total Maritime Solutions Project Manager has over 25 years of operational and repair experience in the US Navy. We have sailed into shipyards and dry docks many times for short duration emergent repairs, such as a damaged rudder seal or malfunctioning shafting or running gear. At other times we oversaw extremely complex and long duration projects, some as long as a couple of years, that involved complexities ranging from nuclear refueling to sophisticated upgrades to propulsion, weapons, accommodations, and other vital systems. The construct we worked under in the Navy is very similar to what we have seen in the oil industry; multiple project teams, one at each level, all with different points of view and different priorities. We are accustomed to dealing with these project teams and are able to serve as a continuous professional link between all stakeholders.

Sound project management saves time and minimizes incidents while offering significant return on investment. We understand the mechanics of project management and are familiar with the myriad approaches that exist in the oil and gas industry. We are accustomed to adapting to new processes as we have done this throughout our careers. We have spent decades facing new challenges in tactics, such as new technology, and new leadership and management techniques. We have continuously adapted to these changing requirements and can readily adapt to any company’s standards and procedures, and lead your project team to better accountability and solid execution of your policies.

TMS has seen great success with three oil industry rig new builds in the past year, where we saved significant construction and repair time. We came into projects that were running behind schedule and below quality standards, and successfully assisted the existing project team to bring the rigs back on track. We also guided them through development of new planning and tracking tools that are still in use today.

This disciplined approach helped launch these rigs expeditiously shortly after we became involved, and ensured they were also fully prepared, ready and able to conduct operations immediately upon arrival on site.

Check-6 Total Maritime Solutions was also heavily involved with demobilizations and yard stays in the past year. We successfully completed four demobilizations, all on or ahead of schedule and all incident-free. Our Project Managers first established effective communications constructs with clear priorities. We then developed intricate schedules to cover all aspects of the plan as well as contingencies. Finally, we saw to it that all personnel, including ashore leadership, were well educated on the requirements of the plan and were able to execute it properly. The return on investment from our efforts alone was significant as the rigs were able to stay operational longer and then proceed to streamlined demobilization and yard stay plans – all on or ahead of schedule, and incident-free.



At Check-6, we view leadership as the art of influencing and assisting others to see and accomplish the objective: building and aligning the team and ensuring all team members have tasks and responsibilities that suit their strengths. Every Total Maritime Solutions Project Manager has learned the art of leadership throughout their career. We have been extensively trained to lead through valuable schools and seminars, but more importantly, we have been placed in positions from the beginning of our careers that challenged us to lead men and women in some of the most dangerous and complex environments in the world. Mentoring and leading teams is vitally important, however, because it is not tangible and cannot be easily measured, it can be overlooked. It is in this area that Total Maritime Solutions also excels and can make an immediate positive impact in any project.



Effective communications means ensuring all personnel involved in the project, whether ashore or on the rig, drilling contractor, company or service partner, understand the priorities and the plan. This is achieved in many ways. First, a suitable meeting rhythm has to be established. It has to meet a number of constraints:

  • Does it match the deliverables?
  • Do the products you need to make, such as daily or weekly reports, measure progress in commissioning of gear, and progress toward Integrated Acceptance Testing?
  • Does the meeting rhythm support timely development and delivery of these products?
  • Does the meeting rhythm support the work of all of the entities?
    • Are they in different time zones?
    • Are the service partners able to attend, and if so, are they the right people that are critical to the work package, and does the work schedule suit the work scope?
  • Is it time to adapt the meeting rhythm to a new set of constraints?

The leadership team must effectively communicate in a clear, concise and timely manner that is easily understood, actionable and measurable. Check-6 PMs are the subject matter experts in this area.


Planning is absolutely essential, even more so than having a plan. US President Dwight D. Eisenhower stressed this very effectively by stating, “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” It is all about the process and the process never stops. This process, sitting down together, communicating and understanding the issues and developing priorities as well as contingency plans is the path to success. The next associated step is communicating that plan to everyone on the team, constantly. That is what counts, that is where common understanding of the challenges occurs and where conflicts are noticed and where everyone develops sound situational awareness of the project in its entirety. A plan that is not well communicated and understood will not serve its intended purpose. It is not the plan that matters, it is the process. Total Maritime Solutions will build and maintain this process for any project and ensure it is done correctly and effectively. “No plan survives first contact with the enemy” (von Moltke). The most renowned planner in military history did not say that because he does not respect planning, he said it because the planning never stops, it has to evolve constantly and adapt to the situation as it unfolds. Planning must continue throughout a project, because continually updating the plan is the only way to make it useful. Constant communication and involvement of the entire project team is the only way to ensure a shared understanding of the challenges and the path to resolution.

Execution: Project Deviation Identification and Management




Setting high standards and higher goals and aiming for perfect execution, is the way to achieve improved effectiveness and efficiency. Safety will be achieved and maintained along the way to a process that aims higher, rather than focusing solely on safe execution of tasks.

Execution will only function properly if deviations are noticed immediately and then managed properly. This is done through careful orchestration of the meeting rhythm and frequent debriefs. When any aspect of the project is off track, it must first be noticed and then acted upon. This relentless attention to daily progress and rapid follow-up ensures consistent, daily improvement.


The TMS Approach

We focus on the team and the people, putting the emphasis on those that are executing the project.

Building and Aligning the Team

  • Start with Check-6’s PBE/HRL (Plan-Based Execution / High Reliability Leadership) Workshop
  • Establish a collaborative perspective, clear accountability, formalized processes, and procedures
  • Ensure third parties/service partners are aware of and compliant with all tasks and requirements
  • Mentor leaders and team members
  • Ensure entire project team understands what “Right Looks Like”


  • Use Check-6’s Plan-Based Execution model throughout the project: Objective-Plan-Brief-Execute-Debrief-Lessons Learned
  • Create project overviews: “road maps”
  • Establish required deliverables
  • Establish communication update rhythm that feeds deliverables
  • Establish a daily timeline for common and collaborative sight picture
  • Create tracking products (e.g., IAT scorecard)
  • Establish a feed system for these
  • Build and submit daily reports
  • Build and track Action/Punch lists

Executing and Tracking

  • Execute the “communication rhythm”
  • Identify and aggressively drive Critical Path Tasks; relentless daily attention
  • Identify and manage plan deviations
  • Lead and drive meetings, implement follow-up to action items, ensure communication flow is sound
  • Bridge the gap between on and offsite leadership
  • Oversee/Conduct final testing, commissioning coordination and completion
  • Apply Lessons Learned as they are discovered

Debriefing / L/L / Best Practices

  • Capture and share Lessons Learned; the cornerstone to our success and any learning organization
  • Done daily at all stages of the project; constantly improving the processes
  • Periodically, event-driven and upon completion
  • Allows for “Best Practices” to be utilized immediately

All of this is undergirded by sound leadership and constant communication.



A company that is focused on continuous improvement of high reliability organizations, Check-6 is a leader in coaching performance excellence and maximizing effectiveness, efficiency, and safety. Total Maritime Solutions uses and expands upon our proven concepts and drives projects at any level and any size to successful ends. Experienced leadership is the key to our capability. The operating expenses of complex oil and gas vessels and rigs mandate that time pier-side be managed effectively so that it may be minimized and on site operations can be maximized. Total Maritime Solutions can make this happen for your project.



About the Authors

Ted “Bench” Williams comes to the Check-6 team from New England and calls Rhode Island home. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Bench has had a highly decorated naval career spanning over 26 years as a naval aviator and nuclear power trained ship captain.

Throughout his career, Bench has been involved in combat, peace-keeping and humanitarian operations all over the world. A proven and distinguished leader, Bench has led and commanded at all levels. His career has been uniquely diverse and has included significant education and training. He is a graduate of the US Air Force Command and Staff College as well as the Joint Staff College. He has received a Master’s Degree in Global Leadership from the University of San Diego, and served as an Executive Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC. Additionally, Bench is a distinguished graduate from the Navy’s arduous Nuclear Power program.


Matt “Beav” Beaver joins the Check-6 team after 28 years of naval service. Born and raised in Hagerstown, Maryland, he has lived and worked all over the world.

A skilled mariner and leader, Matt served in a variety of positions aboard many different types of US Navy warships. In every job, he was charged with leading, mentoring, and training young men and women in high-risk environments. He captained two ships, commanded a squadron of seven of the Navy’s most advanced Destroyers and commanded a Task Group in the Persian Gulf charged with protecting the Iraqi offshore oil terminals. He also served as Chief of Staff of the ENTERPRISE Carrier Strike Group and Chief of Staff of the Atlantic Fleet’s Surface Ship headquarters.

In addition to his operational experience, Matt has spent years in shipyards and dry docks, coordinating and overseeing repairs to his ships while he served in positions ranging from Main Propulsion Assistant to Chief Engineer to Commanding Officer to Commodore. Building upon his Ocean Engineering bachelor’s degree, he is a skilled engineer and team player. He understands how to bring multiple contractors, industry inspectors and technicians together to achieve safe, sound and predictable results on time and on budget.