Innovation is About People and Culture, Not Tech

Last week I had the chance to meet with 300+ professionals, executives, and entrepreneurs at the first SPE Energy Dot conference. The panel discussion was geared at looking at a topic near and dear to me: the workforce of the future.

Innovation was a theme, and while there were plenty of technology companies, corporations, and startups represented, I was pleasantly surprised we kept coming back to two key topics: people and culture. There’s talk of innovation and then there’s action.

Innovation is not new to our industry.

The wildcatters and risk takers who built Energy 1.0 built something great for the industrial age. But climate change, energy poverty, and supply disruptions, all pose real challenges as we build Energy 2.0.

We spoke about what it meant to innovate successfully. For me, it’s about creating an end to end experience that gives our people the space to take risks and create new breakthroughs.

Three things you need to drive innovation and energy companies that are making it happen

Innovation is about people and should be supported from the top

Earlier this year, Lorenzo Simonelli, CEO of Baker Hughes GE outlined his vision for a net zero carbon future by 2050 with an interim target of 50% emission reduction by 2030.

BHGE’s LUMEN is a full-suite of methane monitoring and inspection solutions capable of streaming live data from sensors to a cloud-based software dashboard for real-time results.  Sak Nayagam, Growth & Strategy Director, Digital says there’s a lot digital technology can do to accelerate the low carbon energy transition. Nayagam brings the focus back from technology to people. “It’s important we focus on the right ecosystems and partnerships in order to bring the right kind of mindsets, culture, and behaviors to drive optimization.”

Encourage and reward taking risks and failure.

Equinor Innovate is a dedicated channel to challenge-driven open innovation. The company is connecting with institutions and companies large and small that can help find solutions to concrete business challenges. Challenges are posted on a regular basis and typically run in campaigns for periods between 6 to 12 weeks. The Equinor team includes professionals dedicated to reviewing and exploring potential next steps for working with solvers to develop and implement solutions that drive a low carbon future.

Put a real focus on customer and employee experience.

Our society and customers are demanding bigger and bolder things of our industry as are industry employees.

Deep in the heart of Texas, CPS Energy is the nation’s largest municipally owned natural gas and electric company, providing service to 840,000 electric and 352,000 natural gas customers in the Greater San Antonio area. Paula Gold-Williams, the CEO of CPS Energy leads the 3,000 member team with the vision she has coined, “People First,” where the company seeks to deliver value to its “customers, community, and employees into a new age of energy solutions.” CPS Energy recently hosted a delegation of leaders from Calgary and Dubai to share best practices and regularly puts a focus on innovation, transformation and customer and employee experience.

“Understanding  the utility businesses is undergoing a transformation change, we want to be on the leading edge of that transition,” said Williams.

To get a copy of our Energy 2.0 manifesto, click here.

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Problem Solving and Ideation, Creativity, Originality and Initiative

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