Collaborating to Get More, Sooner
Roger Woodworth, principal consultant at Mindset Matters, helps others align strategies for greater impact. Previously he was vice president and chief strategy officer of Avista Corp. He's chaired Edison Electric Institute's customer service executive advisory committee and was board president of the National Hydropower Association and the Northwest Gas Association.
Collaboration is a simple idea. Find friends to coordinate and cooperate on some common purpose. Share costs and perspectives to advance the effort. Gain the benefit of learning that's more robust than going it alone. And enjoy the advantage of acting on insights sooner than others do for greater value.
Certainly, utilities have a history of coordinating some things among themselves. The work of trade associations on matters of policy is one example. On this front, the efforts of the Edison Electric Institute, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and the American Gas Association stand out.
Another example can be found in research consortiums that are focused on utilities' technical and operating interests. Topping this list are the Electric Power Research Institute, NRECA's Cooperative Research Network, and the Gas Technology Institute.
By participating in forums like these, utilities support fundamental industry interests. The stronger voice or deeper understanding that results is important. But such coordination is to collaboration as water is to soup - necessary but insufficient. Other ingredients, other allies, are needed if greater value is to be realized. Full collaboration requires more.