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How to embrace a culture of business agility in the energy and utilities sector

Discover the top five steps that can help energy and utility organisations nurture a culture of business agility from within.
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In our previous blog post, entitled ‘Why business agility is important’, we outlined the case for business agility for companies operating in the Energy and Utilities space. With a compelling set of rationales for companies to ruminate on, we have now compiled a list of five key steps that can help organisations nurture a culture of business agility from within. Before we dive in, it’s important to preface this list with the idea that agility isn’t necessarily developed, but rather ‘released’. In certain organisations, a foundational level of agility is already in place, but is buried by overly burdensome red tape, bureaucracy and antiquated, siloed mindsets. The scale of change required to release agility will vary from company to company, but the key is figuring out what is stopping it from being released in the first place. 

Define business goals

Before embarking on a transformational journey of this nature, it is crucial that companies develop a granular-level understanding of what they want to achieve, as well as the potential barriers to these goals. There is no magic wand or silver bullet solution, and very often, the size and complexity of the organisation can be the major roadblock. Many organisations are hamstrung by the fact they’ve let the bureaucracy and rules build up over time, constraining their potential agility levels and contributing to protracted decision making processes. In order to release agility, organisations need to know what success looks like. Remember, you can’t hit a target that you don’t have!  

Embrace experimentation

Achieving genuine business agility will require phrases like “that’s the way we’ve always done it” to be shelved. According to Expleo’s Business Transformation Index 2022 report, 70% of Energy and Utilities organisations agree that companies with the boldest digital ambitions will be better placed to succeed, compared to the 14% that feel companies that are cautious in their digital strategies and wait until technologies reach maturity will be better placed to succeed. 

By favouring a ‘Think Bold, Act Reliable’ approach to digital transformation over a slow and methodical modus operandi, companies can experiment their way towards a brighter future, and apply the scientific method to releasing business agility. For every organisation, the future is unwritten and uncertain, but they all have the capability of experimentally defining their own vision for the future, and developing a prototype that ties into evolving market trends, as they see them. For the 67% of Energy and Utilities companies that identified an insufficient understanding of technologies that can deliver the required business benefits as a major barrier to digital transformation initiatives, the concept of experimental testing will hold a particular resonance. 

Data-driven decision making

Another core pillar of business agility is data-driven decision making, which can deliver a unique competitive advantage for Energy and Utilities companies. This involves aggregating and actioning the troves of authentic and up-to-date customer data at their fingertips, ensuring key operational decisions aren’t being made based on hunches or speculation. Equally, companies need to know what their competition is doing, and be able to measure the effectiveness of their own service and delivery of their transformation against the purpose of their business. Then they can run a series of changes, and review the data to see if positive or negative change is being enacted. Without quality of data, they won’t know if they’re releasing any agility, or if they’re getting better, faster, or stronger. In today’s hyper-competitive landscape, there are a sizable number of organisations jumping on the agile bandwagon without a real problem to necessarily solve. By identifying and studying relevant data points, companies will inherently know if they have a problem to begin with. 

Lean on the experts

Establishing a culture of agility, while developing and refining new techniques and processes can be made all the smoother with the help of a trusted innovation partner. Think of them as a technological conditioning coach with the strategic aptitude and proven track record of helping companies across the industry spectrum release business agility. For this scope of work, companies need a partner that can help them properly diagnose problems, so they’re not funneling funds and resources in the wrong direction. With a structured and consistent methodology, Expleo takes great pride in helping clients identify hurdles to success and find possible solutions that work for them, which can then be harnessed to amplify service delivery and release business agility. Coaching is not owning the solution, it is guiding the client towards the solution and helping them own the process. We are just massaging out the knots and taking them back to the simplest form they can be for the size of their organisation. 

Adopt an adaptable strategy

Most companies might feel they are purposely moving forward according to a robust and comprehensive strategy. However, unvarnished assessments might lead one to ask, if the strategy is so amazing, why haven’t they arrived at their desired destination yet? What is holding them back? Agility can only be released when the organisation’s overarching mission and raison d’etre are crystal clear. Moreover, understanding where you are, where you want to go, and having a plan to get from A-B is absolutely essential. By fine-tuning business agility on a routine basis, enterprises can respond swiftly to evolving market trends or external variables and unlock sustained operational efficiencies. 

Ultimately, there are always more problems than you can ever solve in business. The operational landscape is like a conveyor belt of problems and challenges – not all of which will need to be frantically addressed to fast-track your road to business agility. Staying entrenched in day-to-day problems will leave enterprises at a marked disadvantage in the long run, and will lead to a culture of furious problem solving, and an obsession with solving easy, interesting problems.  

A better path forward will see enterprises view their operational framework through a wider aperture, and not just reacting to hurdles by throwing people at the problem, which is often their natural inclination. The more they do that, the harder it is to fix the problem. The trick is to identify the problem and remove it in its entirety.  

As a final thought, when it comes to releasing agility, you can’t force it, or mandate that it will be completed within a rigid timeframe. You must consider two key items: What is stopping growth and delivery; and what steps are being taken to solve those problems. If this is carried out tactfully and with vision, business agility is yours for the taking.  

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