How can a utility move forward in times of constant change?
July 21 - 24, 2015
Palm Beach, FL, USA
By paying attention to three juxtapositions, according to PURC director of leadership studies, Araceli Castaneda, and PURC director and Gunter Professor, Mark Jamison. Speaking to over 100 utility managers and executives at the Florida Municipal Electricity Association 2015 Annual Meeting, Ms. Castaneda and Dr. Jamison explained that the first juxtaposition -- It's not best practice, but next practice -- is necessary for finding the way forward when there is no path to follow. Next practices are experiments that are designed to test hypotheses. This leads to the second juxtaposition, which is that it's not about what, but about why. The next practice itself is not as important as to why it is undertaken. The emphasis should be on filling knowledge gaps rather than hoping that the next practice is the answer. This is difficult in the political situations that most utilities find themselves in because the political environment favors people who claim to have the answer over those who admit uncertainty. This leads to the third juxtaposition, which is that it is not about leading, but leadership. Leading assumes the leader has the answer. When things are constantly changing, the reality is that no one has the answer, even if some are confident that they have it. Rather than try to lead, utility decision makers should emphasize leadership, which is about stirring and steering. The practice of stirring keeps the organization, its stakeholders and the political actors from settling for answers that appear easy, but that could be seriously flawed. This requires helping people be comfortable with uncertainty while the person practicing leadership keeps the system in a experiment and learning mode.