The Princess and the Pea 2.0

800px-edmund_dulac_-_princess_and_peaYou all remember this story from your childhood, right? The Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale about a little girl who proves she is a princess by having a fitful night unable to sleep because there was a pea under several layers of mattresses. The reason this story comes to mind is that we now have an elite group of people who are so sensitive to misinformation that logic no longer prevails. If you need proof of this, just check out why childhood diseases that we thought were eradicated long ago are returning. The reason is that an irrational fear over autism is causing some parents to avoid childhood vaccinations. The result is tragic.

The highest concentrations of this problem are in the wealthiest US suburbs. That is what prompted me to title this blog The Princess and the Pea to point out how sensitivity to silly things now makes us so fitful that we can no longer focus on what is truly important. Some people have gone off the deep end despite the counsel of medical professionals. It seems that the more the professionals weigh in, the more a sense of conspiracy theory sweeps these folks away with their delusions.

So, what are my latest, silly “peas under the mattress” issues we should ignore besides climate change? Oh, have you noticed that it’s no longer called global warming since the warming has stopped? (By the way, there have been virtually NO hurricanes in the Atlantic this year or last … but why should the media comment on that …) Here is my list in no specific order.

Political Correctness: We are now so polite that we no longer communicate effectively. We are so afraid of offending someone that we get all wound up around the axle with silly wastes of time. Yes, of course it may not sound quite right to call the Washington Redskins by that name. But, we have plenty of important things we need to talk about and they require straight talk. Get over it. Go watch Blazing Saddles if you want to see what we called entertainment just a few years ago.

Energy Efficiency: Sure, it may not make any economic sense to promote load reduction when loads are declining on their own if you only look at it only from a load, revenue, and rates perspective. However, if you look at it from a relational perspective, eliminating EE Programs threatens your hard-earned customer influence channels if you no longer promote customers using your product wisely. You can cut back incentives, but you certainly do not want to lose your opportunity to be of trusted influence to customers. Once customers see your EE efforts as nothing more than self-serving or only driven by regulatory pressures, they will not listen to you on other agendas where you need them engaged.

Silver Bullet Thinking: I just got back from the E Source Forum where I met a bunch of folks in new product development. Many of them use the “Stage Gate” process to sift and sort their ideas. Well, that may sound sophisticated, but let’s all just realize that nothing ever gets through this process. It is the perfect way to sound like you are using good business prudence while you systematically kill each and every idea your organization considers. Please substitute directionally correct incremental thinking for this big idea or no idea method. There are no big ideas with little to no risk. Big ideas carry big risks and require real guts and capital to pursue.

Well, that should get my point across. We are stuck in neutral, sweating the small issues and worrying about the optics. We need to boldly move ahead. Don’t fret over the peas, please.

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