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Capture the flag: grade-school strategy survives in utility planning

From the February 5, 2014 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published February 5, 2014

The purpose of the grade-school game "capture the flag" was always clear and concise: take the other team’s flag, writes Patricia Cruz in an article for Public Power magazine. Having such a clear and concise strategy that engages employees in an exciting way can have ingredients similar to the childhood game.

What is a utility’s equivalent of capturing the other team’s flag? Municipal utilities are clear that their purpose is to provide a service to their communities. Vision and mission statements frequently describe the service and how the utility will provide it.

Developing a statement that clearly communicates the utility’s purpose and inspires employees may be challenging and time-consuming, but possible. It starts by engaging employees and asking questions: "Why are we here? What do we want to accomplish? What is in it for me?" 

Initial responses may be obvious: keeping the lights on. But deeper internal organizational dialogue may unveil other functions, such as supporting quality of life or being the economic engine for community development.

For some positions, such as lineworker or power plant operators, connecting the dots from daily tasks to the overall organizational purpose may be clear, but defining this connection for every employee is important. 

More and more, utilities are developing initiatives to help employees understand the big picture and the role they play in achieving strategic objectives. For new employees, orientation programs can be an effective way of not only providing general information about the utility, but also introducing the strategic plan and linking employee roles and responsibilities with corporate purpose.

Read more about creative strategic planning in "Capture the Flag at a Utility Level," on

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Senior Vice President, Publishing 
Jeanne Wickline LaBella

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