An update on long-range planning
In the spring of 2012, the IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES) undertook the task of evaluating its accomplishments over the previous five years and preparing to set goals for the future. We do not operate on a five-year plan, like some plan-based economies, but strategic planning and setting up a general direction are important, especially when membership is growing as fast as ours and when the Society’s operations are spread across the globe.
During the last election for the PES officers, one of the voting members sent me an e-mail, indicating an intent not to vote as “there is little difference between candidates’ platforms to make it worth it.” There is some truth to that, in a good way, but there are also significant differences between the priorities of candidates. I became aware of that while going through the election process as a candidate for president-elect. PES is like a well-greased machine, and its growth and successes over the last decade speak for themselves. Radical changes without testing or fully knowing their consequences might not be the best way to test new initiatives. Minor adjustments and fine tuning of successful programs, as well as critical reevaluation of those initiatives that do not seem to produce the desired effects, are needed and represent a good way to keep the successful operations and adapt to the changes that we are going through.
It is also important to know how funding for our membership value initiatives becomes available. Without going into great deal of detail about the Society’s finances, it suffices to say that our funding and resources for continuous operations come primarily from conference and publications revenue, although other sources of income are also becoming important. Due to the biannual periodicity of the T&D Conference and Exposition, our largest income-producing meeting, our revenue oscillates within a two-year cycle, one year with a relatively large surplus followed by the subsequent year with much smaller, or negative, surplus. Due to the fiscal policies of the IEEE, we are somewhat limited in our ability to undertake new initiatives in those years when our revenue is small or negative. Thus, we must carefully plan and prioritize those programs that are deemed high impact and low risk.
One of our continuous goals is to maintain our successful ongoing programs and to secure the funds for their uninterrupted deployment, i.e., the training of Chapter chairs across all ten IEEE Regions. This program was initially limited to major events but, following our recent membership growth across all Regions, it increased in frequency and quality under the leadership of Chapters VP Meliha Selak and a group of ambitious and committed regional representatives who undertook the responsibility of organizing the events and making sure that they produce the desired effect, something that is a measure of the regional representatives’ own success on the job. We must continue such programs to be able to spread the benefits of PES membership across all Regions, and we must ascertain that we have a way of measuring their success and effectiveness.
Among the significant actions regarding image change while asserting our role in the domain of electric energy that the Society has embraced within the last five years was the name change to Power & Energy and the adoption of a meaningful new logo. And as the PES acronym remained the same, name recognition has not been diminished, although the new name addresses the important aspect of energy development as one of the interests of our organization.
PES has operated these past five years, 2006–2011, driven by a broad strategic development plan. It was based on four major goals:
- improving Society nimbleness and effectiveness by rapidly adnmdressing emerging themes and technologies, developing a framework to efficiently enter into alliances, enhancing discussion opportunities for technical papers, reviewing meeting structure to increase attendance, expanding awards, and allocating limited resources for optimal output
- developing and delivering accessible and relevant information by training PES members through classes and short courses, developing information availability online, achieving growth targeting information of interest for technician and designer backgrounds and not only engineers, and by better packaging the information and its access
- increasing interaction between academics and industry by promoting collaboration through boutique meetings to increase the rate of understanding for topical themes and encouraging Distinguished Lecturers and regional speakers events that address areas of interest by connecting with nontechnical professionals in the power industry
- boosting the membership and our engineering image by attracting new members, which is critical to the success of the Society, by building membership worldwide and concentrating on growth in Regions 8–10, by increasing the involvement of GOLD members to attract and retain them, by enhancing student image of power engineering and the student member value proposition to attract and build a diverse workforce for the future, and via collaborative efforts and opportunities to communicate the value of the power industry profession to attract the future workforce.
The overall activities of PES are designed to support the IEEE Technical Activities Board goal of becoming the global information resource where innovators meet, being essential to the global technical community and universally recognized, being a home for all technical professionals in all disciplines of interest, being recognized globally as the leading organization for forming new knowledge communities, and being the preferred place to go for scientific information and promote lifelong activity of volunteers.
As an example, the Society has strongly supported the activities of the IEEE Smart Grid Task Force, chaired by PES Past President Wanda Reder. That initiative has spawned a number of other useful activities, namely the recently activated Electric Vehicle Portal and the Smart Grid Clearinghouse. PES is actively participating in the IEEE-wide activity on electric vehicles and electric ships, which has resulted in opening yet another portal, and supporting a recent IEV conference in March 2012 in Greenville, South Carolina. PES activity on IEEE standard development is very prominent; recently adopted streamlined procedures for smart grid standard development are expected to greatly support industrial efforts while asserting preeminence of IEEE and the Societies in that area. A recent successful series of Innovative Smart Grid Technology conferences around the world were held in Washington, D.C.; Anaheim, California; Manchester, United Kingdom; Gotteborg, Sweden; Perth, Australia; Medellin, Columbia; Kerala, India; Tianjin, China; and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This attests to the global reach and reputation of the Society as the conferences have attracted authors and experts from 35 to 40 countries while bringing the subjects of global importance within easy reach of the members in all Regions, especially in Regions 8–10. This year’s Power Africa in Johannesburg, held in July, offered the same in Africa. In addition, two of the Technical Council’s coordinating committees, Emerging Technologies and the recently formed Intelligent Grid, have been supportive of new themes of great interest for wider IEEE membership.
The Society has a Long-Range Planning (LRP) Committee, chaired by the president-elect. The objective of the LRP Committee is to develop and evaluate the strategic plans for the Society and to represent the interests of all members in its work. The committee is made of 25–30 volunteer members, chosen to represent the diverse and wide-ranging interests and needs of the rapidly growing worldwide membership base, which increased by almost 50% during the last five years. The entire committee meets twice a year and continues an active development of the strategic plan throughout the year via phone conferences and e-mail. The new plan is under development. The work has started on the revision and assessment of the previous strategic plan, developed for the period 2006–2011 and beyond. The LRP Committee is planning to do the majority of its work by the end of 2012.
We value our members’ diverse interests and ideas. If you would like to contribute to the development of the new LRP or influence the more immediate goals of developing current membership value initiatives and have them possibly included in the Society’s budget, please contact me (Miroslav.Begovic@ieee.org) and put “long-range planning ideas” in the subject line of your e-mail.