State and Future of Power: Jenny Hampton



Fortnightly Magazine - June 15 2020
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How can utilities use design thinking to develop game-changing innovations? What lessons can be learned from other industries? 

Utilities face more complexity than ever before and are under constant pressure to evolve their business models to better address shifting customer needs. 

Utility decarbonization efforts, for example, require an unprecedented level of integration between people and technology focused on deploying thousands of game-changing innovations that incorporate people's needs, behaviors, and their actual day-to-day experiences. 

While design thinking and innovation labs have sprung up in many utilities, we have yet to see a sizable shift in focus from more traditional business models.

Innovative ideas don't just magically appear. At Guidehouse, we know innovation happens through an iterative process of listening to, observing, and empathizing with people. 

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We use a five-phase design thinking process to help utilities move from effectively scoping a problem, to learning from people, generating ideas, testing and iterating on solutions, and planning for full-scale implementation.

Design thinking focuses on people and their needs and uses critical thinking and creativity to help utilities solve problems, gain a competitive advantage, and deliver exceptional customer experiences.

The computer mouse was created using design thinking. Airbnb was taken from a failing start up to a billion-dollar business using design thinking. To be competitive in a rapidly accelerating industry transformation, utilities need to deploy and optimize creativity so they can better address shifting customer demands and capitalize on a rapidly changing competitive landscape.

PUF posed a baker's dozen questions about power's future to a similar number of the thought leaders at Guidehouse:

  • Dan Hahn — You have a short elevator ride alone with the CEO of a major utility. What would you want to tell him or her?
  • Karin Corfee — What major changes have we seen over the last year to the key opportunities and threats utilities are facing? What can utilities do to be better prepared for these changes?
  • Erik Larson — Are utilities well-equipped for next generation Energy Cloud business models? What is your view on the industry's readiness? What can utilities do now to be ready?
  • Dan Bradley — How will utilities' relationships with their customers change over the next decade? How can utilities get ahead of this?
  • Ted Walker — We all hear of "as a service" offerings across many other industries. What does this mean for utilities? What does energy as a service look like?
  • Shannon Graham — How are European energy companies positioning themselves in a quickly decarbonizing market? What lessons can be learned from them for U.S. utilities? 
  • Derek Jones — Approximately one-third of energy use in the U.S. is for transportation. How can utilities tap into this market in a significant way?
  • David O'Brien — What are the major regulatory changes you see in the next decade?  What is needed from regulators to optimize outcomes for all stakeholders?
  • Margot Everett — What are the major changes to how utilities should approach rate design over the next decade to deal with challenging industry dynamics?
  • Michelle Fay — What will the utility of the future look like in 2030? How will it be different from today's utility?
  • Rick Rodman — How has risk management changed for utilities? What can utilities learn from other industries?
  • Jenny Hampton — How can utilities use design thinking to develop game-changing innovations? What lessons can be learned from other industries?
  • Danielle Vitoff — What role can utilities take in their customers' quest to decarbonize? How have we seen utilities shifting more decarbonization choices to their clients?