By following John Kotter’s suggestions about why transformations efforts fail, it becomes crystal clear that the smart grid undergoing process lacks a clear vision as it was not designed as a transformation effort, but to make use of the financial opportunities given by the stimulus package. A vision that puts customer first is urgently needed to initiate a transformation process. The emerging vision leads to two systems that mutually reinforce each other: the regulated Smart T&D Grid and the competitive Smart Enterprise that put customers first. The vision integrates the two systems into a smart grid only at real-time operation.
Initiating the Smart Grid Transformation Part 1 of 3
By José Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio, Ph.D.
Creator of the EWPC-AF
Systemic Consultant: Electricity
First posted in the GMH Blog, on July 4th 2010.
Copyright © 2010 José Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, without written permission from José Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio. This article is an unedited, an uncorrected, draft material of The EWPC Textbook. Please write to email@example.com to contact the author for any kind of engagement.
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As Phil Carson’s article Who 'Believes' In Smart Grid?, this article series is based on an open-ended dialogue on a LinkedIn smart grid executive forum. While Phil “.. found the initial question and a late-breaking "answer" - bookends, as it were - informative and thought it would be valuable to highlight them for a broader audience,” I have actually posted on LinkedIn with real names. Now I am posting without those names.
The person with the late-breaking answer (the 2nd person) has certainly helped simplified the discussion Asking the Unaskable – How many of us believe in Smart Grid? by synthesizing many valuable contributions under what I now identify as a very intelligent generative dialogue helping emerge the transformation of the whole power industry. Thanks to the person with the initial question (the 1st person) for starting and maintaining alive a dialogue with an added European perspective. As the solution is already needed in many other places, I will write with a global perspective in mind.
To find out about the needed transformation, we can go back to what a 3rd person wrote about communicate, communicate, and communicate, recommending John Kotter's book Leading Change. The subtitled of that book adds the meaningful phrase “why transformation efforts fail.” In response to the EWPC article The Potential Setback of the Smart Grid that is Being Pushed, is that already a transformation effort that failed?
From a summary I found on the Internet, Kotter “has devised an 8 step method where the first four steps focus on de-freezing the organization, the next three steps make the change happen, and the last step re-freezes the organization with a new culture. When people need to make big changes significantly and effectively, he says that this goes best if the 8 steps happen in order.” To start following the 3rd person lead, from that summary, I will first copy the Lessons From Mistakes about de-freezing the organization to show that the smart grid has not followed the path of a transformation:
Step 1 - Not establishing enough sense of urgency: (a) Transformation programs require aggressive co-operation by many individuals; (b) Without motivation, people won't help and the effort goes nowhere.
Step 2 - Not creating a powerful guiding coalition: (a) Companies that fail in this phase usually underestimate the difficulties of producing change and thus the importance of a guiding coalition with energy and authority.
Step 3 - Lacking a clear vision: (a) Without a clear and sensible vision, a transformation effort can easily dissolve into a list of confusing and incompatible projects that can take the organization in the wrong direction or nowhere at all.
Step 4 - Under-communicating the vision: (a) Transformation is impossible unless hundreds or thousands of people are willing to help, often to the point of making short-term sacrifices.
Once again following the 3rd person, in Step 4 Kotter tells to communicate "the vision" of Step 3. But the smart grid vision as the 2nd person synthesized it is not very clear at all. To show how confusing the term smart grid can be perceived, a 4th person adds: “As far as I can tell (and I've been studying this intensely for over 3 years now), no two people or organizations have the same understanding of what the term "Smart Grid" means (understandably, since it legitimately means different things to different people due to individual circumstances, etc.)…” In addition, were the effort about a real transformation, Step 1 might show very clearly that the customer was forgotten and Step 2 might also show that utilities underestimated the difficulties of the effort.