Survive. Revive. Thrive: Managing Enterprise Energy to Deliver the Goods
David Arkell, CEO of 360 Energy, speaks about coming out on the other side of the COVID-19 with improved business practices.
April 30, 2020 By David Akell
The COVID-19 outbreak will challenge how we all do business in both the short and the long run. Can any benefits come out of this situation?
In 2008, we went through a deep financial crisis. At the time, I crossed the province of Ontario on behalf of the Excellence for Manufacturing Consortium. As I met with manufacturers, I learned that they were using more than 50% of their energy when they had no production, or only limited production.
The CEOs had no idea. The executive vice presidents had no idea. The directors had no idea. The meter was running, but they didn’t have a clue how much their utilities were costing.
Like most North American leaders, they took energy for granted. They simply considered energy as a non-controllable input cost. Eliminating their wasteful energy use was a quick way to cushion the negative impacts on their bottom line.
Today, the financial fallout from COVID-19 feels somewhat similar to the financial turmoil we experienced then. And, like the last crisis, I recognize that energy and water costs are the last thing on your mind.
In the weeks and months to come, your operations are going to be modified. Your business continuity may even be challenged.
Your focus may be—“survive”.
However, based on the lessons from more than a decade ago, I want you to give energy and water use priority on your checklist for action. For survival, every dollar counts. Reviewing utilities is a low-cost action. It will eliminate any energy and water use that is not required. These are expenses your organization does not need.
This COVID-19 pandemic, like the 2008 financial storm, will eventually pass. When it does, your business, like others, will ramp up production to meet pent-up demand.
At that point, your focus will shift to—“revive”.
Again, you will still need to be mindful of the utilities in your cost structure. Every dollar you save in energy procurement will be available to recapitalize production. Every dollar of utility costs avoided can be directed to rebuild organizational capacity. Any energy savings will potentially be a pool of financing that can be tapped to aid your business recovery.
The world will emerge from this crisis. When we do, what will we have learned? Will we rebuild from a different template?
I certainly hope so. But we will need to revise our concept of “thrive”.
Strategic energy management will have to be at the core of our thinking.
Our reliance on burning fossil fuels contributes to air pollution and to global warming. With so many of us now working from home, the air quality in our cities has improved. If we learn one thing from this pandemic, it should be that the environment is the holding company for all our businesses. For the sake of our future society, we need a new 21st Century business model where the environment becomes our key stakeholder.
For us to truly thrive in the next economy, we need to use energy without emitting the gases that harm our environment. Adopting this simple objective will drive innovation throughout the organization. Any company that can master the strategic use of energy to survive and revive can thrive.
In the challenging times ahead, the drive to zero carbon emissions will define the companies that thrive. Reporting progress in achieving zero emissions will soon be the common denominator of successful, resilient companies.
Pay attention now. It will help you survive. Track energy use today to control your costs. It will help you revive. Strategically manage energy at the enterprise level. It will unlock the innovation to help you thrive.
The COVID-19 crisis has put other risks to the back seat. Let’s learn the business lessons from this crisis to know what to do when we find ourselves in the one that follows.
David Arkell is CEO of 360 Energy, a leading management consulting firm helping clients across North America achieve organizational excellence through energy strategies and carbon solutions. For further information, questions or comments on this article, please contact him toll-free at (877) 431-0332 or email at David.email@example.com
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