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Challenges of Feedback in Organisations: can we foster partnerships not projects


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Using a lens of feedback and engagement this paper discusses the relationships between people, organisations, and energy use in workplaces. It reflects on two projects that explored participatory energy practices in public and private organisations. The first, “Working with Infrastructure, Creation of Knowledge, and Energy strategy Development (WICKED)”, explored energy management practices in a range of different retail companies. The second, ‘Gooddeeds’ aimed to collaboratively create an ICT based tool and related social processes with a city municipality. The paper concludes, firstly, that energy management sits against the backdrop of competing organisational, institutional and political priorities and the core strategy of an organisation matters. Second, we need to move beyond the ‘them and us’ culture and ‘information-deficit’ approach intrinsic in the notion of dashboards and feedback to appreciate the positive contribution all can make to energy efficiency. Finally, there are still large discrepancies across organisations with regards to energy management capabilities and metering technologies. In conclusion we note that relationships and partnerships are central in moving forward.

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Challenges of Feedback in Organisations: can we foster partnerships not projects

  1. 1. Dr. Richard Bull Dr. Kathryn Janda Challenges of feedback in organisations- can we foster partnerships not projects?
  2. 2. The challenge of energy & behaviour in non-domestic buildings • Organisations (including commercial, public and industrial) account for between 50% and 60% of energy use worldwide • Buildings constituting 18% of emissions from buildings in the UK and 20% globally • More complex – in terms of building type/agency/control/ethics/organizational culture • Increasing research and interest in digital economy and ICT based solutions, e.g. visualisation of data (feedback/dashboards) and SMART/Intelligent Buildings relating behaviour change
  3. 3. S, Arnstein, "A ladder of citizen participation." Journal of the American Institute of Planners 35: pp. 216-244 (1969). The ladder of participation
  4. 4. Three benefits of engagement 1. Democracy is increased as all citizens have a right to participate and be represented in environmental decision making 2. Non-experts are often more attune to the ethical issues of a situation 3. Greater acceptance can often be achieved by involving all those affected by the particular situation B, Sovacool, “What are we doing here? Analyzing fifteen years of energy scholarship and proposing a social science research agenda.” Energy Research & Social Science 1: pp. 1- 29 (2014).
  5. 5. Gooddee2ds: Research context and methodology • 18 months funding from the UK Engineering and Physical Science Research Council - Digital Economy ‘Research in the Wild’ (The ‘wild’ was Leicester City Council) • Aim of Gooddee2ds: to explore a participatory approach to the development of a web- application to help building-users reduce energy consumption in non-domestic buildings. • Approach: – 5 meetings with a user-group of ‘lay & expert’ building users – Issued with iPhones – Development of an ICT-based ‘reporting tool’ based on user-input to encourage participation. – Ongoing monthly meetings with users. • Findings from this paper are based on a focus-group with the user-group and semi- structured interviews with the user-group and some other actors
  6. 6. WICKED • 2 year interdisciplinary EPSRC research project based at Oxford University – July 2014-June 2016 • Integrating across: – Academia (E.g., Retail Business Datasafe (Oxford University)) – Government: (e.g., DECC BEES survey, DECC & BRC working group [REETF]) – Industry: (e.g, Retail Energy Forum, BBP, British Retail Consortium) • Advisory board – Oxford University Institute for Retail Management (OxIRM) (Jonathan Reynolds) – British Retail Consortium (Andy Bolitho) – DECC (Sarah Meagher, Building Energy Efficiency Survey) – British Consortium of Shopping Centres (Helen Drury) – Better Buildings Partnership (Chris Botten) – British Property Federation (Patrick Brown) – Chiltern Power (John Scott) – Reading University (Tim Dixon)
  7. 7. The WICKED challenge: what new information and tools can help different segments of the retail sector develop proactive energy strategies? Infrastructure Technical Organisational Legal Creation of Knowledge Energy strategy Development Working with…
  8. 8. WICKED’s perspective: It isn’t easy being “green” • A ‘wicked’ problem (Rittel & Webber 1973) is: – Complex and interdependent – Difficult to solve (may be difficult to recognize) – Addressing one aspect of a wicked problem may reveal (or create) other problems • Energy use is a WICKED sociotechnical problem: – The retail sector is diverse and complex. – One size will not fit all. – Technological solutions must fit organisational characteristics Top-Down Analytics of the Data Rich Learning from the Middle-Out Bottom-Up: Enriching the ‘Data Poor’
  9. 9. Variations in concern, conditions, capacity + priorities
  10. 10. Variations in Priorities
  11. 11. Conclusions & Reflections 1. Firstly, the core strategy of an organisation matters. Thus engagement [and partnerships] around energy efficiency needs to happen within, and be aligned to, existing relationships, roles and teams. 2. Second, we need to move beyond the ‘them and us’ culture and ‘information- deficit’ approach intrinsic in the narrow interpretation of energy efficiency as dashboards and feedback. 3. The technical challenges that exist for smaller organisations, around both accessing the energy data via metering and makings sense of the data once its received, should not be dismissed. 4. Partnerships take time, trust and technical competency.
  12. 12. Further reading . . . . • Bull, R., Lemon, M., Everitt, D., & Stuart, G. (2015). Moving beyond feedback: Energy behaviour and local engagement in the United Kingdom. Energy Research & Social Science 8 32-40 • Bull et al (2013). Are people the problem or the solution? A critical look at the rise of the smart/intelligent building and the role of ICT enabled engagement. ECEEE Summer Study Conference Proceedings 2013, pp. 1135-1145; 5A- 079-13 • Bull, R., J. Petts, et al. (2008). "Social Learning from Public Engagement: Dreaming the impossible?" Journal of Environmental Management and Planning 51(5): 703-718. • Janda, K. B. 2014. "Building Communities and Social Potential: Between and Beyond Organisations and Individuals in Commercial Properties." Energy Policy 67 (April):48-55. • P. C. Stern, K. B. Janda, M. A. Brown, L. Steg, E. L. Vine, and L. Lutzenhiser. "Opportunities and insights for reducing fossil fuel consumption by households and organizations." Nature Energy 1:16043. (2016). • Contact: • Twitter: @richbull