BlogSpot by Chris Schuring: Pugilism…Energy…A sweet science

Now as you may have figured out I am not going to be blogging about technical issues and deep policy debates. My goal in these entries is to create thought, create energy in your mind and in others and to create the debate for further discourse. As an example in one of the recent blogs about DG, look it up, there has been a heated international debate about terms and application. That is what I want to generate. Additionally I was part of a conversation recently about boxing, pugilism, and the debate was not about boxing per say it was about who is in the sport and what was the current status of the sport, good and bad of the players and the sport itself.

All of that got me thinking about the correlation of boxing to business and the analogy to energy and our particular business, alternative energy. When a boxer steps in to the ring they have developed the plan they have trained for this particular event, they understand the science necessary to win. Do we? I mean as a whole, do we understand, do we plan and execute accordingly. I think we do but not with a great winning average. The transfer of power from a boxers glove to the body of the opponent is purposeful, it is targeted and an expected outcome is to be generated, we as an industry need to focus on the same things so we can have a winning average and not leave the ring a bloody mess.

Why Pugilism you might ask, well in the art there are winners and losers, there is a definite plan and there is sort of dance, so called the science. When I think about policy, finance, generation, transmission and product, the equipment and installations I think of a dance that is controlled by the science of electricity. And what do we really know? It seems that every installation I review and every policy I undertake to understand I find a large portion of disinformation and large portion of disagreement as to application. But under lying all of that is a common ground, a set of facts, a science that cannot be ignored else we end up with burnt fingers and darkened hallways. Now when I started to write this blog entry I ask a few friends about a topic and they gave me a few great ideas, they will be used later, but it made me take a look at some of the entries on other blogs and actual projects verse talked about projects. So that lead me to this, there is an underlying set of common things that make an energy project valuable to all parties, there is a path to success that has been traveled many times by many organizations and we have energy for light bulbs and coolers because of that success.

On the other hand we have a wake of failed projects, failed companies and failed processes resulting in dark hall ways and warm beer, not good in the big picture. So how do we find the underbelly and tear away the fat to reveal the core success methods for a winning science a winning match? I have my ideas and I am sure you have yours and they may even have some level of commonality and they may even have a set of proven policies that have gain success over time. That is good and that is necessary but I think it is time to take the next step in the evolution of alternative energy project design and implementation.  What the heck I am I talking about; well here it is for you to ponder and determine if my insanity is truly insane or just a bit provocative. In the health food industry and the FDA there is a GMP, Good Manufacturing Practices that mandate the consistent outcome of food and related products on our shelves, there is ISO, International Standards Organization, for process definitions and practices, there is Six Sigma, there is TQM and the list goes on for a few more pages. In the end those systems have a place and a purpose, are they all good and valuable, I am sure they think so and I am sure that in many instances they have proven themselves to be valuable.

So here is the transition, I read about projects all day long 80% of which are not real and will never happen, we all know it yet we propagate the myth that we are busy and valuable and that the horizon is bright and full of promise. We see funding agencies from every corner of the globe, and some from other planets I am sure, that profess cash is dripping from the vault. We know that there are EPC’s, supply chains and purchasers that are ready and willing to join in the campfire of cooperation and provide the missing links to energy projects. But where are the standards, where are the metrics that we all know and love, where are the base guidelines that can help the entire industry actually move forward at a pace that will produce success. Now I know right now your thinking that you use standards and you use guideline and you have processes in your business and if other don’t that is their problem and they can sit on the dock while you sail your ship into the bay of success, they can fish from the dock you’re going to the blue marlin, the big fish, the whale. And therein lies the problem. Now I am not advocating that we all do the same dance, expect the same results and create an industry that lacks innovation and a competitive spirit. After all every boxing match is different but every boxer knows the same methods and expects the same results, a win at the end of the fight.

All I am saying is that when we step into the ring are we focused on our industry and how we perform and act according to some standard, such as the ethics of boxing rules, or are we running into the ring with our arms stretched out in a winning pose with no regard to the overall effect and affect we might have on our industry. Right now there is press and media that only surrounds the failures, we all have head them, we all side step the news and say we will never be that guy or that company, but if we don’t think about the bigger picture we will be that person, we will be the Butterbean, look it up, of the boxing world.

In a recent conversation with a very cool guy, a retired Navy Admiral, his point of view, much like mine, is that we need to be aware of our environment. Our total environment, I am not talking about trees and the globe and if you support one cause or another in the warming debate. I am taking about the environment, and in this case the business environment, we are steeped in, the one we operate in daily. Is it headed towards respectability, towards ethics, toward reasonable gains in project success or is it a back yard rumble with an outcome that only you care about for you own purposes. I have my own opinions, that should be apparent by now, but I want to hear your opinion. Standards good, standards bad? And in what context should they apply? Should they be application specific or should they be far reaching a general so as to allow for growth and input? As they are developed and applied should there be an “Energy Star” type of certification and who would that be accomplished by?

I am going to close with this. I am for one am tired of hearing about projects in faraway lands that have the enticement of grand riches and exciting travels only to find out it is a West African scam operation trying to broker a deal that does not exist. Why because there is clearing house, no standard, no rules of engagement. Think of a boxing match with no referee, no rules, what you have is two guys in a ring, no science and somebody is going to get hurt, really hurt like possible permanent damage. I do not want to see this industry, this energy project driven side of the industry permanently hurt, nobody wants to see a listless boxer that can’t talk and can’t care for themselves any longer. I don’t want that and I am sure you don’t. So is it time for some of the science to be applied? Is it time for some of the rules to be engaged? Is it time for some standard to be discussed as it relates to project determination and expected outcome valuation? I think it is, it will help, it will validate and it will create a view of actual projects and not some factious application driven methodology that is bogged down with projects that will never see the PTO, Permission To Operate signed off.

It is in your hands, it is our ship to sail. Will we end up on the reef and thus all drown? Or will we understand that there are places for standardization and rules so we can each have a boxer ready for the ring? Are you ready to RRRRRRUUUUUUUMMMMMMBBBBBBLLLLLLE?

Chris Schuring