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Strategic plan Enexis – ‘Our strategic answer to uncertainties in the world of energy’

The world of energy is in a state of flux. How and at what rate changes will occur cannot be predicted. That makes choosing a strategic direction complex. Because, how will our energy be organized in 2030?

Last month Enexis presented its new strategy (in Dutch, pdf). In this strategy the company has thoroughly studied the external developments and also developed four scenarios for possible changes in the energy supply up to 2030. These scenarios they presented on their website ‘The Future Of Energy’. Based on the insights from the scenario study
Enexis has made sharper choices for its own role in a changing world.

Enexis likes to share its learning process and experiences with others. Jester talked about this with Sander Molenaar and Karin Smolders, both Senior Advisor Strategy at Enexis.

How have you been involved in the development of the new strategy?

Karin: Sander has been the driving force when it comes to scenario planning. He has introduced the scenario thinking within Enexis. On this basis we have formulated sharp strategic choices. This proved to be a solid foundation for drafting the new strategic plan together with colleagues and external stakeholders.

Why the choice of scenario planning?

Sander: Enexis traditionally is a ‘roadmap company’: we always used to set our course for the next few years. Due to the energy transition, however, the future is uncertain; extrapolation is no longer possible. How the energy transition will take place, and what effect it has on our society, is not easy to predict. As network operator, we must take account of this uncertain future. Especially since we invest in public infrastructure with a very long life, it is important to consciously deal with it. That brought us to scenario planning.

“Extrapolation is no longer possible”

What was Jester’s added value in this?

Sander: Within Enexis we always have a learning mindset. We love to get down to work intensively ourselves, so we ourselves gain the insights generated by such project. It helps us to gain a broader understanding of developments and thus make better decisions. Michiel de Vries supported us in the process. His experience in scenario processes helped us with structure and planning, giving great attention to the broad support as well: management, employees and external experts were intensively involved. The people, content and commitment came from Enexis itself. This combination of process support
and own effort proved very successful. This really made them become our ‘own’ scenarios.

What have the scenarios brought you?

Sander: Scenario thinking has been a real revolution for Enexis. First look at possible futures we may reach, and only then look at the position and role of Enexis in these futures. This created a common and open mind, but above all: confidence.
Karin: The scenarios helped us tremendously to engage in a good strategic dialogue with stakeholders. Where we previously discussed from conflicting views, we now look together at future challenges. The scenarios are widely accepted within the organization. The asset management department, for example, is using them for establishing long-term network investments.

‘Where we previously discussed from conflicting views, we now look together at future challenges.’

Do you also look at the development of the scenarios?

Karin: Certainly! We monitor the scenarios once a year by questioning a panel of a 100 internal and external experts on the probability. This way we are keeping an eye on developments and are able to see early changes in the probability of the scenarios outlined. We have just done a monitoring and we see that the relevance of the scenarios still is about as high.

What makes the scenario thinking within Enexis so successful?

Karin: Our strategy-making process was organically conducted. We started without a ready made ‘roadmap’. Besides, we have always had a learning attitude. This has helped us in the mastering of the scenario planning methodology, and also provided support and dedication. In addition, the directors and managers have been closely involved in the process from the start. This also created a support base, but especially an awareness of the future and the need to act upon uncertainties. And thus, without this preconceived purpose, we have significantly strengthened our strategy.

Any important takeaways for others based on your learning?

Karin: Looking towards the future literally starts with looking outside. Stop being a specialist yourself, and let yourself be challenged by external critical thinkers. This may
be confronting, but leads to very valuable discussions. Also invest in conversations and discussions with stakeholders. This not only provides a valuable dialogue and new content, but also strengthens your relationship.

‘Stop being a specialist yourself, and let yourself be challenged by external critical thinkers.’

Sander: Set up scenarios objectively, without processing the choices of your own organization in it. We first looked at ‘what do we see in the future?’ Only then did we look at the role Enexis can have in these possible futures. This two-step helps you look more objectively to the future.

‘What that future exactly looks like, we can not predict. But from a shared vision
surely we can grow towards it together.’

Please contact Karin Smolders (Enexis) for more information about the strategic plan.

Please contact Michiel de Vries (Jester) for more information about scenario planning.

The world is changing. What do you do?

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