How to make sustainable performance improvements at any utility.
Cheryl Hyman until recently was vice president of operational strategy and business intelligence at Commonwealth Edison in Chicago. She’s now chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago. Alan Feibelman is a partner in the energy practice at management consulting firm Oliver Wyman. Email him at Alan.Feibelman@oliverwyman.com. David Neville recently was a senior associate in the energy practice at Oliver Wyman.
Sustained performance improvement is often a difficult objective to achieve in a large company. Many such attempts involve various cross-functional initiatives that leave companies with unfinished projects, lower morale and disappointing results. Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) has found that the key to sustained performance improvement is the establishment of a cadre of high-potential managers to address company-wide initiatives full-time. Providing such a team with ample training, visibility and support from senior management can lead to long-term financial, operational, and strategic benefits, while simultaneously developing the next generation of leaders for the company.
ComEd Looks in the Mirror
In October 2008, ComEd Chairman and CEO Frank M. Clark initiated a strategy to improve financial and operational performance as well as customer service. The company already had a number of initiatives under way, but the concern was that some of the cross-functional initiatives lacked the dedicated resources and analytical rigor needed to make real changes. For example, major projects, including efforts to “fix the work management process” and “improve new business,” had been assigned to executives without dedicating significant staff resources and time to address the issues.