No one hates daylight saving time more than me.
I am not one of those lucky people who easily adjusts to the semi-annual time change. Nearly every year on the day after we “spring ahead,” I find myself traveling for work, on a plane heading east. Now, instead of being one hour ahead, I am living two hours ahead of where I was the day before!
I resign myself to getting very little sleep until my internal clocks adjusts, which ironically happens just in time for me to travel home and be completely off schedule again.
The “fall back” time change is even worse. It brings more sunlight to early morning hours when I would rather be sleeping, and conversely brings dark by 5 p.m. when I need to be awake. (If you can see the logic in that, please come explain it to me.)
Yes, friends, change is hard, but I’ve come to understand that it is also a very necessary fact of life.
Our electric utility industry is changing rapidly, and we currently exist in a very challenging market that makes cost competitiveness more important than ever. We are constantly asked to do more with less — less revenue, less time and fewer employees.
Our leadership has seen the need for change and has accepted the challenge.
One big change embraced at NPPD is Continuous Improvement; of which, the textbook definition is “an ongoing effort to improve products, services or processes.” These efforts can seek “incremental,” improvement over time, or “breakthrough,” improvement all at once.
I would tell you, though, that continuous improvement means never being satisfied or complacent and constantly seeking to improve and become more efficient.
For the past two years, many of our colleagues have engaged in Six Sigma training and have worked on continuous improvement projects. Leading the charge, NPPD has two team members dedicated full-time to continuous improvement. All across NPPD, teammates look for project ideas and opportunities for NPPD to become leaner and recognize cost savings. Employees are getting a chance to share new ideas and be creative, perhaps, now more than ever.
A trio of completed or at the “working on stage” projects are:
- a rate outlook project to improve cycle time, accuracy, and flexibility of the rate outlook process;
- a landlord service orders project to reduce truck rolls and queue time for landlord service orders in retail towns;
- and an outage in-processing project which hopes to streamline processing and classroom time in order to meet requirements and reduce “time to work” for supplemental employees.
Hard and soft cost savings from these three projects alone are estimated near $1.75 million.
Not all projects may result in such large cost savings, but all of them are designed in the minimum to save time, which is of great value, and all of them are undertaken with a consideration toward the best interests of our customers.
I am currently working on a continuous improvement project analyzing our wholesale services, NPPD’s “work for others,” and considering how we can better serve our customers. I have found the Six Sigma training to be very interesting and valuable, and I have loved working with my teammates. My creative juices have been flowing, and my training has injected positive energy into all of my work!
We aren’t trying to fix things that aren’t broken, but we are looking for ways to improve — continuously. Our President and CEO, Pat Pope, has assured us that this is not the latest fad but something we need to ingrain in our culture as we move forward. The status quo has been replaced with an environment that encourages and supports change at every opportunity.
I may always hate daylight saving time, but here at NPPD I am learning to love change, and one year, who knows, I may “spring ahead” with gusto. Or, maybe not. I’ll keep trying.