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We hear a lot about the need for utilities to ‘act like a start-up’. To create innovation practices. To ‘fail fast’ or as the more upbeat of us like to call ‘learn-fast’. I have been an advocate of this for years.

Acting like a start-up is great to get things going, but in a large corporate such as a utility, one thing that has always challenged me is how to cross the chasm from piloting initiatives such as demand response to running them at scale as part of your core operations.  

I have in no way ‘cracked the code’ but based on my own experience and in researching for my new book several patterns are emerging that have helped me identify what actions can improve your chances of crossing that chasm successfully. One such pattern is how your organisation structure directly impacts the likelihood of your demand response program ever going beyond a pilot. 


Five actions you can take to help improve your chances of success are:

1. Put in the time, do the hard thinking and have the difficult conversations upfront as to how your demand response organisation should be structured to support the transition from pilot to operations.

2. Secure and maintain executive support.

3. Identify the roles you will need, articulate what they need to deliver and what skill sets are required. Most importantly, make it clear the type of person you are seeking, such as high energy, passionate, and resilient.

4. Identify where you need help from the outside, such as program design or consumer engagement. Don’t try and do everything yourself.

5. Be clear on the relationships needed with other teams and engage them early. For example, isolating the operational part of the business or paying lip service to IT may allow you to accelerate through your pilots at lower cost but you will hit a wall later as you seek their help to transition.  


We spend a lot of time thinking about the why, the what and the how.  We need to spend as much time thinking about the who. After all, demand response will succeed or fail based on your people, not on your choice of technologies.

Have you structured your organisation for demand response success?


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My best-selling book, ‘The Digital Utility’, is available for purchase here.