Execution - Not Strategy - Key to Utility Success, Author Tells EUCG Workshop
DENVER, Oct. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Execution of a corporate strategy is more fundamental to the success of a company than the strategy itself. Without executing the strategy, nothing happens -- ideas and plans disintegrate, author and business consultant Sam Geist told attendees at EUCG's fall 2007 workshop here Oct. 1-3. EUCG is a global association of energy and electric utility professionals who discuss current and emerging industry issues, share best practices and exchange data for benchmarking purposes. "Electric utilities are not unlike other industries when it comes to the use of strategy to achieve corporate objectives. They forget it must be implemented to make a difference," said Geist, whose book "Execute ... or Be Executed" will be released this fall. "Organizations have the propensity to strategize first, then worry about execution as a mere afterthought. This is often a setup for failure," Geist told the EUCG audience. "Companies should first formulate an objective, vision or goal and then develop the execution plan to achieve it. Execution is the strategy." "Change management is a topic EUCG has prioritized in its workshops over the last few years," said Stephen Saunders, EUCG president and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) general manager of benchmarking. "Our industry has undergone almost perpetual change over the last decade in response to an ever- evolving regulatory climate. Sam's suggestions come at a crucial time as our member-companies are faced with continuing regulatory uncertainty, especially in the environmental and rate-making arenas." Geist encouraged EUCG members to accept the challenge of change and to view it as a dynamic and integral part of a healthy organization. "Organizations should change before they have to change," said EUCG Vice President Mark Derry of Exelon (NYSE: EXC). "Several of our members commented during our workshop that it is best to manage change under your terms rather than have change manage you." EUCG welcomed 165 workshop participants from more than 60 utilities, including five foreign countries, to its fall workshop, said George W. Sharp, EUCG international marketing director, of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP). "Workshop participants focused not only on change management topics, but other important utility issues such as how to deal with the industry's aging infrastructure," Sharp said. Each committee pursued individual workshop agendas, including: -- Nuclear Committee: This committee's workshop was attended by more than 85 percent of North American nuclear plant operators as well as companies from Japan and Spain. Representatives from the International Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Energy Institute and the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations also attended. Presentations during the workshop included discussions on outsourcing and the impact of deregulation on cost and reliability, interactive panels on work-force planning and communication improvements, and breakout sessions about current industry issues. Entergy's Continuous Improvement Process, which was the 2007 NEI Top Industry Producer (TIP) award winner, was also presented. In addition, the Denver Mint provided an overview of their operations and processes. David Ward, EUCG Nuclear Committee chair from Duke Power (NYSE: DUK), stated, "This workshop provided a broad range of topics and allowed the attendees to have lively discussions about current business-related items in the nuclear energy industry." -- Fossil Committee: This committee focused on issues surrounding the management of aging plants; specifically, how to best maintain reliability and environmental compliance. Other issues discussed included heat rate improvement programs and turbine-generator overhaul practices. The membership was presented with the results of an EUCG-sponsored industry survey regarding station inventory and detailed maintenance staffing. A presentation by Jeff Parsley, TVA's Shawnee Plant manager, focused on the processes and strategies used in Shawnee Unit 6's impressive 1,093-day consecutive run. "The Fossil Committee continues to see increased workshop attendance. Members continue to focus our committee's benchmarking and best practices efforts on management of aging plant infrastructure and the ever-changing environmental compliance regulatory front," said James Patrick, Fossil Committee chair, from Ameren (NYSE: AEE). -- Information Technology (IT) Committee: This committee, formed in 2006, reviewed the results of its first benchmarking study. The IT Committee has progressed over the last year by establishing and normalizing its metrics and has identified ongoing benchmarking improvement opportunities. Members also heard briefings on key IT issues, such as deployment of the Service Management process and migration to Office 2007 and Vista. The chief information officer of Pennsylvania's PPL utility also gave an insightful presentation on aligning IT with the business. The committee plans to expand its membership in 2008. Other plans include refining benchmarking data gathering and sharing processes and greater emphasis on best practices around utilities' integration of the IT function within their core business. "Our committee continues to grow and prosper. We are providing a unique forum in which utility IT benchmark data and best practices are shared, discussed and used by our members' companies to improve service levels and reduce costs. Since we are nonprofit, we can accomplish this at a very low cost compared with other IT benchmarking services," said Jack Flack, IT Committee chair, from TVA. -- Hydroelectric Committee: Committee attendees developed proposals to include staffing data, and to improve how administration costs are submitted, in the EUCG database. In addition, workshop participants were presented with information on the use of regression analysis to assist with analyzing the data more effectively. Among other items addressed were staffing issues, including programs used to manage the aging hydroelectric work force, and how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers uses the EUCG Hydro Committee database in their benchmarking efforts. "The Hydro Committee concluded a successful fall workshop. We represent one of the few organized groups of utility hydro professionals that meet regularly to vet industry issues and compare performance," said Bruce Fraser, Hydro Committee chair, from Pacific Gas & Electric Company (NYSE: PCG). EUCG will hold its 2008 spring workshop in San Antonio, Texas, April 13-16. All energy professionals are invited. Interested parties should visit the EUCG website (http://www.eucg.org) for more information. About EUCG: EUCG is a global association of energy and electric utility professionals who discuss current and emerging industry issues, share best practices and exchange data for benchmarking purposes. The 35-year-old association is organized into five separate committees that represent specific utility functions: Transmission & Distribution (T&D), Fossil Plants, Hydro Plants, Nuclear Plants, and Information Technology (IT) departments. Members attend semiannual workshops that focus on strategic planning, maintenance practices, operations management, outage management and various other aspects of the electric utility business. Membership is open to all utility companies and professionals worldwide. Interested parties should contact Pat Kovalesky, EUCG Executive Director, at 1-623-572-4140. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: http://www.eucg.org.
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