In my last post, I introduced you to step one of the CLASS framework, CLARIFY.  I explained that, as with anything you do, personal or professional, for it to deliver sustained success, your ‘why’ must be clear and compelling.

The second step in the CLASS framework is LEAD.  The right leader in the right position within the organisation is vital to make the leap from running pilots, to demand response being a core part of your business operations.

Many people, often in very senior positions within the industry, still do not believe demand response has anything more than a ‘bit part’ to play in the future energy mix.  As the head of demand response, you must believe in demand response with a passion and be resilient.  You will face many naysayers across the organisation, and in the broader industry.  In the early days of demand response, I was almost laughed out of meetings.  Engineers who had been in the business for years saw no place for demand response.  They came up with every conceivable reason why it would not work or why it was not required.  They would say “the system has plenty of reserve margin”.  Or “the response to a network constraint needs to be so quick that demand response can never play a role”.  I was told consumers will never change their behaviour in enough volume to deliver any value.   Many things you test will not work, you need to take the learnings, course correct, and get back out there.  Demand response works and hundreds of programs around the world prove this. I have seen it first-hand.

Having a passionate leader is vital, but on its own it is not enough.  Where the role is placed in the organisation speaks volumes.  If it is too low down in the organisation or is not overseen by a steering committee consisting of C-level executives then you will not be able to secure the support you need when times get tough, and they will get tough.  I was fortunate enough to be placed in a position reporting to the COO, and unrelated to those responsible for grid or customer operations.  There were numerous occasions when I hit roadblocks, where my influencing skills failed me, and I needed the support of the executive to get things over the line.

Demand Response, must be front and centre of your organisations current efforts to design its future operating model.  But, if it does not have the right leader, and they are not correctly positioned within your organisation, then ask yourself the question, do you have the foundations in place to scale beyond pilots?

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Wayne is the author of the Amazon bestseller The Digital Utility and CEO of The Chapel Group.

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