Business Agility Within A Regulated Utility by Lisa Smith

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Lisa Smith

The electric utility market is changing. Business Agility is a new organizational imperative in the regulated utility market. Those that do not innovate and pivot to meet customer needs will be overtaken by those that select to embrace the Business Agility mindset. This mindset is the fuel that powers innovation.

Innovation in the utility sector are yielding enormous opportunities to generate and distribute clean, affordable, and reliable electricity to utility customers. For example, new technologies like wind and solar have become cost-competitive or even cheaper than conventional energy sources. The electric utility market is changing. Duke Energy is leading the way in this rapidly changing energy business. To do so we leveraged business agility in a very unique way based on the following to “execute on our vital business mission to “serve our customers”:

  • Employee Engagement: “all ideas came from those closest to the work, we leveraged the human intellect of our employees”
  • Digital Strategy: Digital Enterprise and Customer Lifestyle (“intent to simplify how we operate”, very stochastic nature of emerging work”
  • Agile/Kanban/Lean Six Sigma Principles: “we’ve literally built an operating model on the plan/do/check/adjust daily cadence”
  • Agile Work Space Collaboration “Neighborhoods”: “physical agile transformation with our facilities”

The energy landscape of the future has radically different customer expectations along with flattening trends in retail sales volumes. Energy efficiency driving lower customer usage, offsetting new customers. Customers increasingly demand more options, control, convenience and transparency. Efficiency for the customer goes all the way back to the power plant through the distribution network and impacts everything that supports delivery of energy.

One I would like to share with you the story of how business agility has been used in Duke Energy to transform 122 Operation centers. These operations centers service the distribution needs of 25 million customers and has an annual budget of 2.2 billion USD. This transformation will be complete in 2019 with the core pilot complete in 2018 so it is a work in progress. That is a core of Business Agility is that we are always a work in progress.

Please join us as we reflect on both the successes and failures throughout the course of our business agility transformation in operations at the largest utility in North America. Manic focus on building a customer centric operating model with a plan, do, check, and adjust operating discipline that leverages agility and lean business process improvements for day to day operations…all charged by front line employees.

We will discover some common patterns that lead to failure in various events in an agile transformation outside of IT within an industrial business operations environment. We will stress efforts that met with success, and how apply these lessons to our Agile toolbox as we look to replicate success in future endeavors.

Smith – Business Agility within a Regulated Utility

Lisa Smith | General Manager, Operational Effectiveness @ Duke Energy

Lisa Smith is a fast track executive transforming the Duke Energy operations centers.


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