All transformations and changes put pressure on the actors concerned. What will be their future? Will they survive? Will they manage to cross the turbulence zone without damage? Will not they lose money?
So many questions that naturally arise to executives and managers. These questions bring them back to extremely sensitive topics: will they personally be able to be at the helm and drive change? are they able to cope with such levels of risk and uncertainty?
The risk taken while acting make them more anxious than the risk taken while remaining motionless. And the associated fears develop because we think too much in a binary way: either we defend our positions, or we explore new horizons. The reality, that is more complex, pushes us to simultaneously aim for both objectives: we must defend our positions as best as possible while seeking to open the way to the future, and, of course, manage all the paradoxes that this generates.
What can we say about the actors facing a revolution like the current energy revolution?
Some actors are distinguished by the will to face this revolution and to change in depth. Some like Energinet.dk in Denmark, Alliander in the Netherlands or E.ON multiply innovative projects to test new solutions adapted to new positions. Others like Elering have an equally clear desire to explore new horizons but are moving more progressively. Still others, such as Engie, show a frank willingness, implemented in major decisions, such as the adaptation of the portfolio of activities, but still struggle to harmonize their internal operations.
Most are in a cautious or even defensive position. Fears outweigh the ability to progress. Within these companies, fractures often appear between the management, by nature more cautious, and the employees, more competent and often more voluntary to move forward. This situation seems banal. And yet, we did not distrust it enough.
Most countries are developing consultation mechanisms to change their legislation or regulations. They involve the main actors or the largest bodies and feed, through this, the defensive strategies.
– An actor consulted will be guided mainly by his fears and will consciously hold positions in the service of his defensive strategy.
– The consultation processes give more importance to the opinion of the big players, judged to be more competent or more credible. Yet they are the ones who have the most to lose and whose defensive strategy takes precedence over everything.
– The constituted bodies, professional associations for example, act as amplifiers at the service of a defensive strategy or the will to develop new solutions whatever happens.
In the absence of a sufficiently large pool of actors resolutely turned towards the future, in the absence of a neutral regulation of the process, I have observed on many occasions that these consultation mechanisms, aimed at harmonizing and accelerating change, reinforce immobility.
This is not how we will build the most serene and promising future of the energy players. This is not how the national energy ecosystems will respect the best their roadmap of the fight against climate change.