Folklore Now is Perfectly Rational

When I started in the utility industry about 45 years about the stories of squirrels eating electrical equipment insulation and thereby causing outages at customer facilities were legendary.  It was such common excuse for large customer power outages that field reps would actually carry a dead squirrel in their trunk and pull it out to proclaim that as the reason for the outage.

Yes, the stories were true in many cases.  The reason the squirrels ate the insulation was that it did appeal to them in some way … no one knew exactly why.

Well, with today’s environmentally sustainable sourcing of materials we now know exactly one reason.  Listen to what USA Today has to say about it.

I am sure my fellow utility friends are snickering about this and glad they are not the focus of customer wrath on this count.

On a more serious note, this is going to be very interesting to watch … what does happen when doing the right thing for environmental reasons results in costs that were unforeseen?  Worse yet, these outcomes are downright inconvenient to customers and could damage customer loyalty and brand preference.

I am sure no one making this decision had the foggiest idea that they could walk into this kind of trouble.

Shouldn’t that cause us all to take a deep breath and consider things like this before we “do the right thing?”


Who do you trust?

I have to admit, I was surprised to see this poll of who American’s believe are trustworthy.  As an engineer, I was pleased to see how highly our profession is ranked.  I was a little surprised by the perceptions of the professions above mine since I certainly know of all too many instances of abuse.  But, as you move down this scale where the slime and deceit increases, it is sobering to see how the professions cluster around those who are busiest trying to tell us what to believe and do.

Read how MoneyWise ranks the honesty of 27 professions.

How do we undo this web of corruption?  Can we “drain the swamp” when those who control the swamp are so keen to keep it just the way they like it?

We all talk about term limits and accountabilities.  Yet, the fox is not only in the hen house but is in charge of recruiting new hens to replace the ones they have eaten.

Designer Phones?

We are all unique in so many ways.  Yes, we may fall into broad groups when it comes to religion and politics, but all you have to do to see just how unique we all are is to shop at Walmart or get your drivers license renewed in person.   We celebrate diversity on many levels … it is a strength of our country.

So, why should we settle for one smart phone out of a small handful of choices?  Some of us hunt and fish, others play strenuous sports, some are young and do not need nor should have features that mature individuals desire.  It seems so logical then to imagine phones designed from the ground up to fit these perspectives … especially if you don’t like being criticized for the addicting behaviors with which today’s smart phones are being associated.

Take a look at this infomercial on the Wall Street Journal and decide for yourself.

Is this altruistic or opportunistic?  Is this merely to defuse imminent or future lawsuits?  Or, is this truly insightful about who we all are and how different we all are?

You decide.


The Search for Fewer Remotes

Anyone close to me knows I have been predicting that the next big evolution in digital engagement will be the elimination of keystrokes  and the move to voice based interactions.  A few weeks ago I blogged about the consequences to what we have historically defined as brand attributes.  If you did not read that one, please do because you are about to see the consequences in mainstream America.

It was only a matter of time before a TV will be able to interact with viewers using voice… well that time appears to be right now. Read what USA Today has to say. 

Everyone in the energy industry has been preparing, studying, and hopefully refining the customer journey through mapping and then team based problem solving.  But, have they really thought about how the journey itself will change as the customer stops using keyboards and smart phones the way we have considered in the past?

The reasons for all this are obvious as you consider the number of remotes you probably have in your TV area.  How many of us have pointed the wrong remote at the TV thinking it would give us the results we desired?  And, how many of you with ROKU or the Amazon Firestick have stopped clicking and simply gone to voice control to find what you wanted?

The train is about to leave the station once again.  Do you have a plan for voice?  If not, give us a call.  We can get you started and begin the next journey together.

The Answer my Friend is Blowin in the Wind

I never thought I would be referencing Bob Dylan about the realities of technology.  But, the wind industry released a statement that says it all: Read what Wind Watch has to say. 

Anyone who is technically versed in power system dynamics knows just how hard it is to keep the lights on.  It is not simply about having sources of energy… it is all about ramping sources up and down to keep the voltage and frequency within the specifications required for our motors, lights and equipment to operate.

Batteries have been a part of the renewable dream and are certainly a key feature of making PV solar panels and wind work (the other solar renewable source – remember friends that wind is a result of solar energy hitting our planet). But, the scale of this requirement is staggering for batteries alone to make a dent… staggering… especially when wind is priced in to the mix without regard for these balancing costs.

Balance… something designed into the system a hundred years ago… assumed centralized generation.  Yes, that balance has shifted with new sources of energy distributed through the system.  But, the essence of the balancing model has never changed: select all sources of energy based upon the costs and benefits.

Wind may appear inexpensive from a source perspective … but it consumes balancing energy out of proportion to any other renewable energy source.  It is time to put balance in the equations again.