Task Forces

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Task forces are very different from committees. Committees are permanent, although participants may vary, but they are all drawn from company employee staff. Their goal is institutional and broadening, maintaining energy efficiency activities going, tracing opportunities, monitoring results, proposing projects and behavioral changes in a continuous workflow. Eventually this committee may be turned into an organizational cell of the company. Task forces on the other hand are by definition transitory, having an initial and final work dates. Members are designated by name and normally they remain the same until the work ends. Their target is usually specific and directly focused, linked to some deadline decision, like a project, use of a certain technology, an opportunity operation or maintenance, a permanent procedure change, audit in a facility etc.

Experience has shown that there are some key aspects for a good task force. First is the task force coordinator, responsible for the group's daily activities, the schedule keeper. It is his responsibility to ensure that all planned actions are accomplished, if milestones are being achieved and whenever they aren't, he must trigger planning and target reviews. Choice for this position is likely to be dictated by the nature of the problem, personal skills and experience added to some seniority and/ or managerial position. It is desirable that this person has negotiating skills and focus, because to comply with a tight schedule, negotiation and flexibility is demanded.

Task force composition, concerning that it is attached to energy efficiency, should be centered on the committee. Some members must be attached to the task force through the whole task development, and because it is time driven, these personnel must have this task as top priority, eventually interrupting their regular activities to give full attention to the task force goal, only resuming normal duties after its completion. But combining them with other technical personnel, who do know operations intimately but aren' t directly involved in energy efficiency, can provide breakthrough performance.

There should also be room for part-time members to address certain limited aspects of the project, expert with some specific know-how. Briefly, the task team can be selected to focus on the specific problem and be made up from a mix of in-house personnel and outside specialists.

Management participation is absolutely crucial to task force success and it must be kept fully appraised of group pace. It is a management function to provide fundamental direction, resolve conflicts of priorities and ensure that everything is on schedule. Without management authority and influence little priority is given to the task force and it is unlikely that goals will be achieved. Another activity for the group coordinator is updating management about the task force achievement and asking help and support whenever needed. It is a fundamental interface for success.

Here we reach the point where skills and knowledge become basic to drive the energy efficiency work, no matter what kind of structure is supporting it. It is possible to design a specific job with particular requirements, training and development, and that makes a career.

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