Wanted: a change of attitude in the energy sector. Interim manager to the rescue

Posted on 27/06/2017

Events, News

On June 16, 2017, 3W Executive Interim Management and the Business Angel Coaches Network kicked off their roadshow called Upcycle your business transformation. Which businesses they targeted? The energy sector, to begin with. Because we all want an energy bill that’s both affordable and sustainable, but to make that happen, a change of attitude is in order. What does this mean for the interim managers and business coaches who are employed in the sector?

Upcycle your business transformation. Every sector is subject to change. And change asks a lot of interim managers and business coaches. Not only do they have to keep abreast of developments in change management, they also have to keep their finger on the pulse of their sectors – sectors which are transforming faster than ever.

Energy flexibility is the new energy efficiency

A growing population, rising energy consumption and CO2 emissions, a dwindling oil supply: VITO/ Energyville’s Bert Gysen and Jef Verbeeck are convinced it is high time for a shift to sustainable energy.

“The problem is not so much that we use a lot of energy, but that we do so at a time when sustainable alternatives are readily available”, Gysen and Verbeeck say. According to Jef Verbeeck, energy flexibility is the new energy efficiency. But it takes more than goodwill to get there. It requires a great deal of flexibility on the part of companies, in terms of both organisation and production, while households will have to adopt new habits, like doing the laundry when the sun is out rather than at night. To stimulate that kind of behaviour, we need new legislation as well as a better understanding of the flexibility of energy prices.

From dream to reality

By his own account, Luc Sterckx, former CEO of Luminus and Oleon and now associated with the Business Angel Coaches Network, brought a down-to-earth view of current practices to the table.

Among other things, Sterckx calls for honesty about several important topics. For instance, while Europe’s and Flanders’ efforts to reduce CO2 emissions are to be applauded, the real opportunity lies with China and India.

In addition, Sterckx feels that we should be more open about the costs of sustainable energy. Though wind may be free, wind energy is not. The price of sustainable energy is often hidden; it is disguised as a public investment from the past which the government was often too eager to make. All too often, the reasoning seemed to be: it’s good, it’s green, let’s just do it.

Adopting a strong, long-term vision is crucial for governments on a regional, national and European level, Sterckx is convinced.

Change management in the energy sector

How to bring about the change in attitude required to complete that energy transition? Jan Jaeken, entrepreneur and interim manager in the 3W network believes that’s where change management comes in.

Together with the city of Antwerp, Jan Jaeken introduced an initiative called Klimaatactief (Climate active), a marketplace for energy. The project is all about informing and activating people, making sure that the solution stays close to the core business of potential participants. “Aligning your actions with the relevant core businesses is the only way to arouse interest and to make sure that organisations who want to approach energy differently succeed in getting their investments approved”, he explains.

Thus Jaeken demonstrates how to connect general truths about change management and behavioural change with substantive knowledge of the possibilities of energy. For Jan, the ideal approach is both broad and in-depth: “You have to combine a broad view of the sector with a profound insight into change management. Hence the value of experience in other sectors.”

Interested in attending this series of meetings organised by 3W Executive Interim Management and the Business Angel Coaches Network? This autumn, we’ve scheduled five more Upcycle your business transformation roadshow events, with a focus on industries including Material, Chemical, Health & Life Science and Smart Human Capital. During these sessions, both substantive experts and interim managers with experience from the field take the floor.