Do You Sense Change in the Air?
I recently attended the Midwest Energy Solutions Conference — virtually, of course. Its four days were replete with various programs directed toward the energy industry, focusing on raising awareness and reinforcing the importance of energy efficiency in the Midwest.
Topics ranged from “No Wires, No Problem. Non-wires Solutions for Optimizing the Grid” and “How Can Energy Efficiency Support Grid Resiliency” to Decarbonization and EE: How Corporations are Addressing Climate Demands.” If you’re an energy efficiency fan, this was the place to be.
But one session really caught my attention. It was “How Programs Can Best Account for an Ever-changing World.” It’s not a particularly new topic; indeed, adapting to change or learning how to adjust has become fashionable, with good reason. We see (and experts confirm) that significant change is occurring more rapidly than ever before. It’s hard to ignore the effect.
And let’s not forget the human element. Most of us feel reasonably comfortable in our daily routines, whether at home or at work. Let’s admit it: Change can be irritating, even unpleasant, especially at work. Yet if we hope to continue holding onto a job, we had better adapt.
The session made me reflect on how TRC has handled new circumstances. For example, while our mission has never changed, we have adapted and altered our outreach efforts over time. Our first burst of action focused on the HVAC industry, and our method of reaching it was advertising in print media. But we recognized the need to adjust and broaden our audience and switched the medium to more effective ways to reach our audience changed. We also realized we needed to reach a broader audience.
So we expanded to other industry segments, including utilities, waste facilities and, yes, even homeowners. Our messaging altered to meet this new audience, and the medium changed too, as we spent more of our efforts in the digital sphere (even in HVAC).
How do you assess your efforts at adapting to change and ensuring that it’s palatable and successful without succumbing to an irrational antagonism against it?
Here are a few suggestions that we’ve followed at TRC.
Acceptance. Most of us understand in a general sense that change will occur, but accepting the reality of the situation can be difficult. Learn to accept that things will be different in five years, three years, maybe even this year no matter how comfortable you are with the status quo. You don’t need to be apprehensive, but you should prepare yourself. Who saw Uber coming? Or voice commands for your computer? Or verbal transcription without every stroking a keyboard. It’s a matter of time. You can’t change the wave, but you can alter your readiness to adjust.
Annual review. Most of us assess the past year and look to the next one for how we might do it differently. But how? There is a shortcut, especially if you have to present a report about what you are going to do differently. Stay attuned to the industry. In the old days, you could stay abreast with industry news. Today that news is often digital and available with a few keystrokes (or dare I say, voice commands). The one shortcut is to create a search about trends in your sphere of interest. Some use Google Alerts that send you messages that address your interest. The simple answer is to research and see what people in your industry are predicting. You will also appear smarter than your peers who fail to take the initiative.
When does this change cycle end? It doesn’t for most people. The one element you can control is your attitude toward it. At TRC, we are fortunate because we have a simple answer. It ends when we recycle that last pesky mercury-containing thermostat.