We are determined to create changes that improve our customers’ experience, exceed our stakeholders’ expectations and position our company for sustainable, agile and long-term success. We need not only to foresee technological advancements, but to develop them in order to find new and better ways of serving our customers and bringing them value.
We are aggressively seeking ways to foster an even more innovative culture, grow and transform the business and enhance the performance of existing assets while highlighting and rewarding the successes we’ve already had.
How We Performed:
In 2017, we created the position of Chief Innovation Officer. In 2018, we created the position of Vice President — Innovation. We also enhanced our innovation capability by forming a beachhead team consisting of strategists, designers and coaches to foster innovation mindsets and skills. We also created opportunities for innovation through a series of immersive field experiences, employee summits and our first innovation expo. We expanded our innovation tools by launching a company-wide crowdsourcing platform for ideas and began to create environments for rapid testing, prototyping and experimentation.
|We will continue to reward innovation to create a culture in which employees are encouraged to experiment. Retaining the attributes that have made us successful, we will place even more emphasis on innovation and customer focus. We are committed to looking out for disruptions to our industry and partnering with start-ups to infuse energy into our employees and processes.||In 2018 we enhanced our innovation capability by forming a beachhead team consisting of strategists, designers and coaches to foster innovation mindsets and skills. We also created opportunities for innovation through a series of immersive field experiences, employee summits and our first innovation expo. We expanded our innovation tools by launching a company-wide crowdsourcing platform for ideas and began to create environments for rapid testing, prototyping and experimentation.|
Where We’re Headed:
We will place even more emphasis on innovation and customer focus, and are committed to looking out for disruptions to our industry and partnering with startups to infuse energy into our organization. We will continue to reward innovation and build out our innovation capability by involving customers and employees in experimentation, learning by doing, and fostering high-velocity collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Dominion Energy is accelerating its innovation strategy even further in 2019, and the employees continue to embrace change. This effort includes doubling the number of crowdsourced business and technical solutions in 2019 (compared to prior year), expanding its innovation accelerator program from the pilot program in one organization to all business units, collaborating with university faculty and students in the states where we operate, and deploying technologies such as data analytics, edge devices, and mixed reality. We are also planning to substantially increase the number of pitch sessions across the company, where employees can present their ideas to broader audiences, and gain exposure to others in the company to bring ideas through the implementation stage. Dominion Energy is committed to seeking out disruptions to our industry and partnering with start-ups to infuse energy into our employees and business processes.
In 1955, Fortune magazine debuted its list of the 500 largest companies in America. By 2017, only 60 members of the original list remained. The rest had been replaced by competitors, swallowed up by rivals or rendered obsolete by emerging technology.
A company cannot stand still and hope to remain successful; it must evolve to stay abreast with the changing times. At Dominion Energy, we do more than stay abreast — we drive change forward.
Our corporate ancestry (PDF) includes companies involved in everything from canal navigation and horse-shoe manufacture to streetcar and railway operation. Today we are a leader in the delivery of electricity and natural gas. But changing customer behavior, lower barriers to entry and new technologies and marketplaces are disrupting or upending traditional business models.
While Dominion Energy currently enjoys success, we know a proud history will not guarantee a prosperous future. Progress in the years ahead will not be shaped by the strength of our legacy, but by how well we embrace innovation.
Changes in technology, customer expectations and competition instill a sense of urgency. Now is the time to embrace new ideas, to improve asset performance and to create new business opportunities. Our company is moving aggressively to foster innovation: We are developing new platforms to share and implement new ideas, and giving our employees the tools they need to quickly develop solutions to problems or develop new market opportunities. We aim to become nothing less than the energy company of the future.
Performance, Growth & Culture
Our approach to innovation has three components: performance, growth and culture.
We want to use innovation to drive excellence. We call this incremental innovation — making improvements to existing operations. For example, we can use emerging technologies to drive down costs, improve efficiency and enhance safety. The performance strategy also seeks to simplify and streamline operations, reduce cognitive load and minimize waste. And as new technological threats emerge, performance innovation allows us to respond nimbly and effectively.
The growth aspect of our innovation strategy focuses on creating new and greater value in the face of changing markets. We do this through adjacent innovation (expanding existing products, services and expertise into new spaces) and transformational innovation (developing entirely new products, services and business models). We constantly monitor social, technological, policy and market trends to see threats and opportunities and invest strategically. This growth strategy seeks to create new customer offerings, develop new value chains and potentially foster new revenue models.
The performance and growth innovation strategies require innovative mindsets and behaviors across the entire company. An innovation culture is key. We aim to build permanent innovation capabilities into the organization that allow the company to act with agility and speed to capitalize on new opportunities. We support innovation with collaborative and inspiring work environments, and provide the tools and skills to harness ingenuity.
Getting Down to Work
In 2016 we launched the Chairman’s Excellence Award, which encourages employees to advance innovative ideas. In 2017 we welcomed the company’s first Chief Innovation Officer to lead the cultural change needed to drive innovation. We also evaluated our innovation ecosystem and benchmarked our performance against our peers.
In 2018 Dominion Energy expanded its innovation program by forming a small beachhead team consisting of strategists, designers and four Innovation Guides — one representing each of our four business groups. The team reports to the Vice President — Innovation, a new position. Together, the group fosters a culture of innovation and creative thinking. It does so through workshops where employees are exposed to new mindsets, tools and techniques enabling them to explore and execute upon ideas and concepts, along with events such as Innovation Expos and the 2nd annual Innovation Summit held in June, 2018. The summit provided employees the opportunity to learn about exponential technologies and the effects they might have on our business.
In partnership with the Gas Infrastructure group, the Innovation Guides are piloting an ambassador program through which employees will receive training and exposure to innovative ecosystems so that they can advocate for our program and support their peers’ innovations. The innovation ambassador program is expected to roll out companywide.
The Power of the Crowd
In 2017 we launched a new crowdsourcing tool to help collect ideas from our 16,000 employees and build them into workable solutions to business challenges. In 2018 we’ve expanded this tool across our business groups and continue to find solutions from the crowd.
We are also deploying sprint teams — small groups with focused assignments and dedicated time and resources to develop solutions to specific problems. And we are working with external partners to develop our innovation and knowledge-management platforms.
The Power Generation Group has launched Generation Forward, a continuous-improvement initiative that identifies significant efficiency and process improvements to increase flexibility and competitiveness. In its first year alone, Generation Forward identified and implemented more than 225 work processes, leading to sustained savings of more than $100 million per year.
Dominion Energy recognizes that innovation happens not only within our organization, but all around us as well.
The company has teamed up with two other utilities in a venture-capital fund that targets innovation and late-stage startups in the energy sector. Participation in the fund keeps us abreast of technological advances that could benefit our customers or improve our operational efficiency. The fund has successfully supported the development and commercialization of clean-energy technologies, including equipment that boosts the productivity of renewable resources, energy management systems, smart-grid data analytics and cyber and physical security.
We maintain a presence in local innovation communities by supporting startup accelerators, working with innovation councils, and hosting corporate roundtables where we interact with business partners and peers to share insights on innovative culture and growth. We also partner with colleges and universities to embrace cutting-edge technologies and ideas developed from their research.
We continue to benchmark our customers, partners and peers and their innovation efforts. This allows us to gather insights and intelligence about the changing environment and better prepare ourselves to meet the needs of all the stakeholders in our business. The innovation team regularly meets with outside organizations to learn from their experiences — including peer utilities, technology development organizations both large and small, universities, startup accelerators and utility-excellence organizations. We also collaborate with the U.S. Department of Energy, NASA and government-backed national labs to stay current with the latest research and development initiatives in the energy industry.
Entrepreneurship and business incubation often provide the key to the next big idea. We are continually looking for new ways to shape the future and delight customers. Dominion Energy is a founder of an advanced-technology business incubator that provides startup companies with collaborative workspaces, mentoring, guidance on business strategy and other support services.
The Innovation Center — located north of Richmond in Ashland, Virginia — offers entrepreneurs access to teams of people and resources to develop early-stage concepts into financially viable, freestanding ventures. It also hosts special events and classes to foster creativity and entrepreneurship in the community.
The incubator has helped launch nearly 15 new companies. These include a developer of cutting-edge electric motors and generators; a solar-energy development company; and a biotechnology startup creating new products based on a novel recycling technology.