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A Look Back, and Ahead, for New Year’s Day

Posted 12/31/2016

By R. Bruce Wright, CPCU

New Year’s Day is often a time for taking stock, making resolutions and looking ahead, a heavy lift indeed for a single day!

Our work with the utilities in this program is entering it’s 18th year, it’s “adulthood” if you will, and during that time people on both sides of the work have retired, moved on, and changed. In most cases however, their legacies remain, and we can look back on them while we make our own resolutions and plans for the future.  

In Synebar’s case, looking back is easy, since we maintain open access to the RE-marks Archive, dating back to January of 2000. It is filled with material produced by present and previous consultants; many of these articles are pertinent to issues that remain with us to this day. I hope you find an opportunity to delve into those back issues to see what you can find there that can offer guidance for today’s challenges. 

On New Year’s Day, resolutions for the year ahead are frequently made, but often all too quickly broken and forgotten. One trick to avoid this cycle is to choose a realistic goal, find ways to take steps toward achieving it, integrate the steps into a formal plan, and then work your plan! I find that this is a great time to think about returning to the basics, basics that can be built on for future success. Here’s a way to think about this- at the start of a new season, the coach doesn’t jump right in with new plays. Instead, the team is taken through a basic skills practice, to make sure that the players are all ready, in shape, and prepared for the work ahead. Okay, I know you didn’t have an “off season” to overcome, but even so, meeting the urgency of daily work requirements frequently distracts us from the basics. We may need some “practice” by revisiting what we know, or too often, what we knew but forgot about. 

If New Year’s Day is about stock taking and looking forward, it is a great time to revisit key skills, the basics skills like How to Hire, How to Train, How to Coach & Develop, and How to Improve Work Processes. These are all good candidates for review. By an odd coincidence, the RE-marks Archive has resources for each of these. Just click on a link below to see! 

If you have other goals, by all means add them to your list.

And let’s take a look ahead. Predictions are often difficult, but here are some things to think about for the not too distant future. Disruptive technology is coming and will soon make big changes to the utility business. Some we have discussed in meetings this year, such as the use of drones to inspect and trouble shoot power lines. Others are in the news every week, things like self-driving vehicles. Most of you will see the day when your line crews and service techs will start the day by telling their trucks where to take them, not by “driving” as we know it today. And in the longer term, alternative energy options, such as distributed generation and storage, could even turn the industry upside down. One thing is certain, we are on the brink of changes that were unimaginable when Thomas Edison invented the first practical light bulb in 1879!