Something worrisome has happened, is happening, or is about to happen. No one sees it as you do; no one agrees on what the problem is. And a while ago the problem looked different. You may even have seen this problem before, and thought you solved it then.
The risks and uncertainties associated with the “tried and true” are growing. Solutions to past problems are getting in the way. The barriers to new or different decisions and actions are absurdly high. Little room remains to experiment or maneuver.
Welcome to today’s strategic question. Its boundaries are unclear. Different people see it differently. Everything about it relates to everything else.
It is not a problem and we are not going to be able to solve it. It is a strategic question. And life shows us the path to addressing it.
We all see what we expect to see. We find what we are looking for. This is what builds and maintains our blind alleys. How can we see differently?
Left-brained. Quick, try to remember: what happened yesterday? Last month? In the office next to yours? In your community? In your country? To cope with the avalanche of information that bombards us daily, we ignore everything except that closest in time and space. This is generally NOT where the patterns are. The patterns that reveal some order in the chaos. The patterns that allow us to gain insight. We help you find and reflect on these patterns, drawing on powerful archetypes from society and nature.
Right-brained. “Just the facts, Ma’am” worked for Joe Friday when the question was what happened last Tuesday noon. But when the past is a complex stew of differing perceptions and the future yet to unfold, we need to supplement the facts with color, with pictures, smells, tastes and touch. We need to see through all of our senses. Then, using empathy, we need to see through other’s senses.
Whole-brained. Think about the last slide show you saw. Now, think about a movie. What’s the difference?
The slides are still pictures; images of things. The movie is action; the story emerges from the interactions of people, things and place. The world is dynamic, not static. It is harder to see it that way. It takes discipline to see motion; to think in sentences with verbs rather than just nouns. It takes effort to focus on the invisible spaces between people, things and place that is where all this actions comes from. It takes a whole brain.
We help you do that.
When we have dotted every “i”, crossed every “t”, structured our worlds to block randomness, no room remains for the new. We must loosen the binding, release some resources, physical and mental. Release creates a field for the possible; a field that exists only when we are not certain, when we don’t know. Here we explore, we dream, we envision.
Having ranged widely in not knowing, we settle then to plan and plant. With clear purpose. A timeless vision. A re-arrangement of what is that we now can see because we see differently.
Growth begins anew. But it is never steady. Some of our actions do not move us toward our vision; we must weed. Other actions struggle to blossom; we must nurture. Changes around us close some paths but open new ones. We constantly check where we are, renew where we are headed.
We harvest knowing that the cycle has not ended and never ends. Every living system, of nature or humanity, is following its own cycle and we control none of them. But with awareness and practice, we can perceive them and join their flow.
Pamela Morgan, President and Principal Consultant at Graceful Systems, consults, coaches and facilitates individuals and groups from business, government, and the not-for-profit sector who face strategic questions. Combining a deep understanding of the energy utility system and personal skills in systemic and critical thinking, visioning and strategy development, she offers her unique ability to see current reality in different ways and design structures for strategic effectiveness in a dynamic world.
In a number of states, a strategic question emerged in connection with energy utility installation of “smart” electronic meters, capable of being read over a network. Some customers have resisted the meters, raising health, privacy and other concerns. Not everyone sees it the same way. It’s not clear that it is just about metering. Any response could have unintended consequences.
What patterns could we look for in customer responses to technology, or in other analogous situations? What are the times and places people have objected to technology (and not just in the energy utility world!) How did those situations unfold? How did the companies respond? Are there any common characteristics among those with the concerns? What are the various stakeholders feeling? What are they doing, seeing, and hearing in similar situations?
Release: Must every customer (on a given rate schedule or in a given class?) have the same type of meter? Why? Must the utility read every meter on the same timing? Why? What are we really trying to achieve with the new meters? What other ways might we achieve those objectives? If we are seeking a lower peak load, by what other ways might we achieve that result?
Renew: What if we offer some of customers bi-monthly meter reading and pay-in-advance if they choose to retain analog meters? What if we allow them to read their own meters and report the reading? What if we offer them a non-wireless way of participating in demand response, perhaps in connection with participation in overall energy efficiency programs? What if we made clear our goals and had the customers affected help design the way they could best contribute to those goals?
Plant: What if, after twelve months, customers that were reading their own meters have submitted readings that are cumulatively off by more than 50 percent? What if the customer-designed capacity reduction program did not produce expected load reductions at peak? What if participation in energy efficiency programs by this group of customers was unexpectedly good?
Reap: Did we learn something from our experience with this strategic question that could apply to how we are seeing other situations, including those connected with the Smart Grid or otherwise?