Reset for Regulation and Utilities: Leadership for a Time of Constant Change
November 20, 2014
"Regulating Utilities in a Changing Environment" was the main theme of OOCUR’s 12th Annual Conference held in Dominica, November 18-21, 2014. As a presenter and panelist, PURC director of leadership studies, Ms. Araceli Castaneda introduced PURC’s concept of adaptive regulation to the audience. This concept is a framework to understand the regulation of public utilities in a time of great uncertainty. The adaptive regulation model proposes three main juxtapositions for consideration, as the world of regulation and utilities is in constant fluctuation. The first juxtaposition, "next practices, not best practices" delves into the experimental nature of the current regulatory practices, and offers a future focused orientation on these practices. "Next practices" is about designing steps that work for a changing environment, rather than borrowing knowledge from others who might have been in a similar situation in the past (best practices). The second juxtaposition, "not what, but why" explains the need to hold on to the reasoning component in the regulatory processes and the "why" certain regulatory practices worked in particular contexts. Exercising this reasoning helps stay focused and design the right "next steps" in times of uncertainty. The last juxtaposition being "not leading, but leadership" challenges the traditional concept of leadership by questioning how we can follow an authority figure in a time when nobody has the answers to the questions we have. Leadership in such changing space may come from anywhere in the organization, and is about providing a holding environment to create the opportunity to learn, grow and be productive in such an ambiguous and difficult setting.