Tom Flaherty is a partner with Strategy&, part of the PwC network, with over forty years of consulting experience. Most recently, he has led assignments related to standing up innovation programs and capabilities within utilities.
It's been less than three years since utilities began giving serious attention to innovation. In that short time, some companies within the sector have made steady progress in engaging the workforce, deepening the understanding of disruptive technology opportunities and setting a course for future positioning.
But not all companies find themselves at the same adoption stage, and innovation impacts are mixed. Some companies are consistently visible in the market, while others are still finding their paths. Some remain mired in legacy mindsets where risk-taking is discouraged and change is suspect.
As utilities gain more experience with innovation, they recognize how difficult remaking themselves into organic transformation engines can be. Big plans are worlds apart from tangible outcomes.
To be fair, the slow pace of innovation adoption in the utilities industry should not be a surprise. The industry never thought about transformative change at the scope and scale it now faces.
And the challenges that managements are now facing are natural obstacles to a significant shift in strategic emphasis. Creating a distinctive culture of innovation takes time, and companies are slowly progressing from gaining traction toward building momentum to achieving sustainment.