Innovation framework for an energy sector leader
The electricity sector is going through accelerated change, driven by a relentless march of renewable energy entering the generation mix.
Consumers are enthusiastically embracing new energy technologies. They have more choice than ever before about where to buy electricity and even how to generate and store it.
Within this context major players in the sector are required to show a highly-developed sense of strategic planning and to display the organisational agility to change their business models and practices in such a way as to meet customers where they want to be met.
TasNetworks was grappling with many of these issues before they retained ThinkPlace to carry out this work.
To stay relevant in the market, and deliver revenue to its shareholders, TasNetworks needs to innovate. In late 2018, the company engaged ThinkPlace to develop an Innovation Framework. The framework is intended to help TasNetworks “execute ideas to achieve value for TasNetworks and our customers”.
The project team used ThinkPlace’s Design System to co-design a pathway for innovation.
Stage 1: Establishing intent to understand TasNetworks aims for the project and setting the scope and deliverables.
Stage 2: Exploring to understand the experience and expectations of Innovation from the perspective of team members, customers and partners to ensure the framework builds value for customers and addresses any cultural blockers. This stage started with a one-day co-design training session for team members, to help them create the right mindset for the design. The course covered the philosophy and fundamental techniques of design thinking such as how to involve consumers from the start, how to prototype and test ideas iteratively.
Stage 3: Planning what the innovation framework might look like for TasNetworks. The team explored a number of frameworks from other organisations, then created the core principles that innovation would need to follow, and mapped the journey from a team member’s perspective. This created the groundwork for a pathway, which was iterated a few times. The team then generated many possible areas for innovation, clustered them and landed on four Innovation Frame. Some of these were close to ‘core activities’ that TasNetworks already does, others were more adjacent to core business. Following this, the team made an assessment of TasNetwork’s innovation maturity, mapped to ThinkPlace’s Innovation Maturity Model
Stage 4: Planning to activate the framework and ensure it stays relevant to the organisation. Apart from receiving endorsement from senior management, a number of communication activities, capability building and other tasks are required to put the framework in action. A test stage was proposed to test and refine the framework.
HOW WE DID IT
The pathway identifies 5 stages to innovate
Identify: The first stage to identify a problem and gain a better understanding of opportunities and challenges
Ideate: The second to Ideate possible solutions to the problem
Incubate: Then to Iterate ideas in a rapid succession of agile sprints, until most hypotheses have been validated and a project with a defined scope emerges
Running a project: To run the project following Tasnetworks’ formal project management practices
Implement: To implement the solution across the network and organisation
It also provided some focus to innovation efforts through four innovation frames:
Frame 1: Accelerating game-changing business improvements
Frame 2: Creating energy solutions with our customers and communities
Frame 3: Harnessing data to enable better outcomes for customers
Frame 4: Reimagining resources around us for new products and services
The framework was presented to the client in May 2019 and received enthusiastic support from executives.
ThinkPlace was subsequently engaged to support TasNetworks to test the Identify stage on a real business problem. The work done in this project will create significant impact for TasNetworks' ability to innovate for a challenging energy future and therefore contribute to the overall shift towartds more sustainable, renewable, secure and reliable energy in Australia's future.