Last week I attended the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) Summer Study for Industry, which had excellent content, but one phrase prompted me to this week’s topic, one that’s been simmering a while in my gray matter. Due to multitasking and poor note-taking, I don’t remember the phrase exactly, but it was something to the effect of the rule of three. My version is when it comes to project performance and customer satisfaction (and many other things), three in a row has meaning.
Fortunately, the conference featured heavy doses of benchmarking, planning, and continuous improvement, which is directly in line with my post of a couple weeks ago. Along the same train of thought, at next winter’s Association for Energy Services Professionals National Spectacular Conference, I will be preparing a paper “Knowhow and the Incessant Energy Diet”, detailing an approach that works very well. Get your tickets today. And one note, folks with not enough to do copyrighted the term “continuous commissioning” and thus the term, “incessant energy diet”. Thank you for making me think of a catchier title that isn’t nerdy.
As discussed at the ACEEE Summer Study, some organizations, companies, and facility managers have aggressive savings targets of 20-30% reduction in energy consumption or improvement in energy productivity measured in throughput per unit of energy consumed. These sorts of goals can be met with great success, cost effectively, and the proceeds flow directly to the bottom line or operating income.
The crux: these results must be measured, and it’s easy to do. Hundreds of data loggers need not apply. These efforts produce macro savings that roll up to the utility meter(s) on the facility/plant. “The dog ate my control sequences” cannot explain away meter readings that don’t budge after projects have been implemented.
As facilitators of these types of projects from measure identification, through energy and financial analysis and implementation, we want to see these Mitey Mac savings as much as the end user. Demonstrated macro savings leverage more sales of Mitey Mac projects for us. And this gets to the punchline of this post: there is miniscule luck with these projects. This isn’t coin flipping. It isn’t shooting half-court jump shots or hitting holes in one. Successful facilitators do not need to flip heads ten times in a row or hit three straight holes in one to demonstrate mastery. Besides, these are obviously impossible feats.
Three straight Mitey Mac projects are enough. Achieving Mitey Mac project performance is akin to the uncontested slam dunk or 40 yard field goal. Athletes who can accomplish three of these in a row are going to hit 4, 5, 6, 7, and so on. Sooner or later someone may move the goal post (sabotage the project), and there will be a miss. This is bound to occur in every 10 or 20 projects. If it happens substantially more frequently, there is a problem.
Similarly, customer and client satisfaction follows the three-straight rule. Just about every person and/or their organization for whom/which we do a good job on time, likes us and appreciates what we do. The majority of reasonable consumers have favorable opinions of their utility, at least here in the upper Midwest.
Of course once in a while there may be a mistake or a dropped ball. And there will always be scorned geeks that don’t like an organization/company because it has $300 million in revenue and therefore, it should cut its prices in half. Or one of the VPs reminds them of someone who dumped them the day before the prom. Some of these may be people who throw tantrums at the gate because they can’t make the earlier flight. They are jerks to waiters and waitresses and don’t leave tips. They don’t like kittens, sea lions, and they wouldn’t like this ferocious killer dog I found either. That’s life, man. This would only be a revelation to a Chrissy Snow.
Continuous polling and monitoring is required to track performance for projects, customers, companies, leaders, and employees. Outliers are not a problem.
On the flop side, two or three out of three negatives would at minimum be a call for concern. People and organizations best pay attention and take seriously consecutive negative feedback, particularly when it is consistently specific and from disparate sources. For example, I once had a, as Colonel Jessup would call him, substandard marine and apparently per him, his two previous employers “just didn’t like him”. Really? I was thinking he should shuffle on down to Walgreen’s and get himself a mirror. Two or three in a row is no accident.
 Mitey Mac was an early brand of skid steer loaders from the 1970s and seems like an appropriate phrase for deep-savings projects.