Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Energy Management: Attempting Progress Without Change?

There’s an old witticism from Mark Twain that works perfectly here: “I’m all for progress. It’s change I object to.”

We are reminded of this in the February 12, 2007 edition of Business Week. “The Right Way to Shake up a Company” is a sidebar to a larger article that describes how one employee attempted some culture change at Wal-Mart. The lessons-learned in that story strongly resemble those learned by people who try to develop energy management programs from scratch. If you are attempting to change the way your organization uses energy, then the major take-aways from the article include these:

There’s nothing wrong with being humble.
“Effective change agents don’t go around shouting about it…. The smarter ones don’t want to seem interesting, but interested.” Implication for energy champions: design energy strategies to fit the company rather than the other way around. ‘Understand and honor the DNA of the organization. The system will reject you otherwise.” (Note from your blogger: maybe this is why so many companies settle for energy projects rather than an ongoing improvement process? And if culture is a handicap for potential energy cost control, what does that say about organizational management?)

Pay attention to formal networks. “It’s not enough to win the support of (top leaders). You also have to convince the opinion leaders—those who influence employees in ways that no organizational chart will reveal... you have to build a network and a case for change.” So who in the typical organization has the communication skills to perform this feat on behalf of an energy management agenda?

Determine a company’s tolerance for change. “It’s important to suss out a few people who can be informal advisors…. Listen to them to understand any symbolic faux pas.” Paving the way for energy management may require knowledge of current hot-button issues. Rather than posing energy management as its own priority, it may be best posed as a solution for, or complement to, those other hot-button issues.

An early success can do wonders. “Don’t try to do everything right away…. Taking a small step first gives you credibility, contains the risk, and, even if you make a mistake, gives everyone the opportunity to learn.”



Post a Comment

<< Home

Who links to my website?