#BetterTogether – Benjy Lee from Jemena reflects on how far we’ve come as a collective in a year

Amidst all the craziness trying to chart the uncharted challenges of COVID-19 as an Energy Charter collective, I thought it would be useful to take some time to reflect on how far we’ve come in the relatively short life of the Energy Charter. It’s a mere blink of an eye in the history of the energy industry, but incredibly important for the insights and customer focus it’s creating, and especially poignant given that so many of our customers are now facing uncertain and difficult circumstances.

The evolution of the Energy Charter’s #BetterTogether initiatives has been inspired by two memorable moments at the launch of the Energy Charter in January last year (feels like longer, but it’s not).

Firstly, the energising vision and insight from CEOs across the energy supply chain, brought about by sitting together on stage and openly sharing their thoughts on the need for improved collaboration and customer-centricity in the energy sector.

Secondly, equally memorable but more on the daunting side, was the challenge issued by the Powershop CEO (at the time) Ed McManus for the industry to get on with creating some quick wins for customers.

It was this initial impetus and the collaborative efforts by Energy Charter signatories that resulted in getting our #BetterTogether innovation initiatives up and running, to the point that it has now grown into 11+ fantastic initiatives that are driving better customer outcomes, and which have also found a voice as our central mantra, now regularly used to guide and inspire our Energy Charter community conversations – #BetterTogether!

A defining moment was the #BetterTogether workshop we ran in August 2019 using an innovation framework of “ideate, incubate and accelerate”. I’ve got fond memories of a room full of tables with industry and consumer representatives huddled in discussions around how to shape the initiatives that were passionately pitched by collaborator leads earlier in the day.  There was a strong sense that a different kind of collaborative conversation was taking place.  With the insights and encouragement drawn from the workshop, it was then time for all the #BetterTogether collaborators to roll up their sleeves and get to work enlisting people within their various businesses across the supply chain to progress these initiatives.

#BetterTogether has provided a much-needed impetus and the means to learn how to more effectively collaborate across the energy sector – perhaps finally putting back some of the much needed ‘glue’ after valuable industry connections were lost as part of the economic reforms in the 1990s that split the supply chain up to drive efficiencies.

It also takes some time to introduce and connect the right people from different parts of the supply chain – from industry, customer and community representatives, regulatory bodies and other stakeholders – in a way that promotes exchange of ideas and continues to build trust in the approaches taken and by sharing the progress along the way. Often it is not easy and there’s plenty of pressure within the challenges of doing things differently in a way that collectively serves customers in a better way – however this is what true cultural change looks and feels like, sometimes painful but ultimately rewarding!

Unforeseen events and fresh priorities have also emerged to challenge the energy sector, such as the catastrophic bushfires earlier this year, and now the profound uncertainty of COVID-19.  It has been pleasing to see the Energy Charter’s #BetterTogether initiatives use a focus on innovation to engage with these challenges and bring forward responses.

With 11+ fantastic #BetterTogether initiatives underway, it’s also been great to see such a diverse range of efforts and outcomes being delivered.  These include the coordinated “We’ve Got You” campaign, in 10 different languages, to help more energy customers facing difficult circumstances access the support they need, and the 24/7 connection initiative, which is allowing some electricity customers to connect their power faster, for the first time outside normal business hours using smart meter functionality in Victoria.

What started as a call to action to get on and be #BetterTogether in 2019 has quickly developed into a collaborative platform for driving customer-focused outcomes – around 150 people from the Energy Charter signatory businesses are directly participating in #BetterTogether initiatives, with many more working behind the scenes to deliver the work.

As with any innovation pipeline not every idea will succeed, however a healthy ecosystem for testing and turning ideas into customer focused action and outcomes has definitely been created, which can only serve our customers and the energy sector well for the future.

Congratulations to everyone who has thrown their efforts and energy into building the #BetterTogether innovation platform into what it is today – from the CEO to those in the operational levels of our businesses, along with our supportive stakeholders.  This is something we can all be proud of.  I’ve really enjoyed the recent Energy Charter social posts that are showcasing some of the #BetterTogether human champions who are working hard every day to deliver collaborative customer outcomes – it’s great to see these leaders in our sector getting thoroughly deserved recognition for their industry leading work.

Visit #BetterTogether to learn more.