Why I like the idea of Energy Fitness Landscapes

I have been building out the value in my proposal of having a Fitness Landscape framework within the Energy Transition and why it makes sense.

Here in this post, I want to expand on my thinking around navigating a complex landscape that the Energy Transition demands.

I am looking at the Energy Transition from an evolving technology innovation perspective. In other words, what “forces” can be identified or promoted that can transform the existing energy system through the pursuit of the new invention, innovation, or technological advancement. Specifically, ones that will be needed over such an extended time and complexity of change that this Energy Transition will take, upwards of twenty to thirty years to give it an unstoppable momentum.

For this, we need to continually identify resources and capital by addressing the competencies, capabilities, and capacities to generate and accelerate change and consistently map these back to the realities of the landscape of change we are trying to traverse.

When you look through the lens of innovating at the Energy Transition, you are often questioning the fitness, or the reality to achieve something.

A risk of the energy transition is we give higher emphasis on the depth of knowledge in one area and fail to pull this together, to map it into the bigger picture of the practical, broader-based one. This “mapping back” gives our broader Society and non-expert groups needing to relate to the Energy transition gives them identification. It generates their need to change or support change and brings about more extensive (behavioral) change and awareness. Otherwise, they just accept the idea of advancement but equally block it if it does not fit their frame of thinking or how or why it is relevant to them.

We need to recognize that the energy world is “stacked” with Scientists, Engineers, and Researchers that have a real depth of expertise but so often can be lacking the required “T” shape skills that can actually be restrictive to making change.

These T-shaped skills that we need more of by having a combination of general skills and knowledge that support in-depth expertise in one area. They can bring broader validation and understanding of the relationships within any journey of change so often needs.  Often the scientist or researcher simply wants to hand over. There is a greater need for skills that can anchor a solution, advocate the reason for the change, and then provide the broader resolve and purpose to ensure delivery of the change.

There are plenty of (dense) reports projecting the Energy transition change and what is required, but they often fail to make the connections to the broader audience involved in this change. In my view, we need to explore and generate a better understanding of adaptive landscapes and provide a “sense of identity.”

The value of fitness landscapes as part of any Energy Transition awareness makes sense to bring identity and structure.

Let me explain this by keeping Hydrogen as the initial focus:

I have taken Hydrogen as my opening exploration to traverse this Energy landscape and have been providing the ongoing analysis over on my dedicated innovating4energy posting site by exploring different aspects of Hydrogen in a series of extended posts (one- believing in hydrogen, two- the gas too deliver, three- shades of and four- tensions and bottlenecks)

I need to begin to evaluate the value of knowing the real part of any hydrogen ‘fitness’ and what makes up its distinctive dynamic capabilities that moves it towards the solutions we need to have in place to contribute in significant ways to the energy transition that is underway. These solutions can be, but not limited to, Technology and Innovation, Scale and Adoption, Infrastructure and Market Conditions, Government Engagement and Involvement, Industry, and critically vital Public adoption.

Let me return to the earlier point on “T-shaped” people first.

This valuable post offers a useful descriptor on how different people have different skills and why the “T-shaped” combinations become so helpful. Managing such a change in Energy Systems requires multiplying skills.  The post ‘designates’ the differences and points out the need is to be continuously adaptive to varying demand.

In my view, knowing or anticipating that “varying demand” requires a building of the fitness in the capabilities, competences, and capabilities. This ability to enact change is my starting point for my thinking over the need to think about the Energy Transition Fitness Landscape.

We deploy expertise to overcome difficult challenges or have the space to innovate, and we need non-expert people to clear the pathway and provide the experts with the ‘right’ environment. Both approaches changing the existing, breaking down the ‘bottlenecks’ but in different ways.

The more you have the right environment to develop “T-shaped people, who go beyond one skill or expertise and engage in the joint identification, then the quicker you can accelerate change through collective understanding

We need to visualize and articulate change in connecting ways.I believe both the Three Horizon framework that I have deployed for years  (see this post for relating it to the energy transition) and the concept of knowing your fitness and the landscape have real value in the Energy Transition. Both allow for a greater collective identity and engagement of all the necessary expertise and generalists to come together. In a complex challenge like the Energy Transition, you need to create the identification and build the collaborative ecosystem to focus resources on the (shared) identified goals.

Taking Hydrogen as my point of reference, to understand the context, complexities, and creative tension.

By firstly, mapping out the hydrogen terrain to the task at hand enables us to understand and relate to what is needed – I call that the context for change. I have been investigating Hydrogen as a promising energy carrier to understand the barriers and obstacles to the energy transition we need to undertake. There are so many underlying “tensions” in this change from established fuels, infrastructure, and product delivery that Hydrogen needs to overcome.

Taking this fitness landscape thinking a little further here.

Any Energy Transition Fitness Landscapes identifies the opportunity spaces on where you need to focus your efforts- the appropriate resources to navigate the terrain. The higher the ‘fitness’ transforms your landscape potential into accelerating opportunities into final tangible outcomes.

Fitness Landscapes helps in this task by identifying the opportunity spaces on where you need to focus your efforts‐ and apply the appropriate resources to navigate the terrain. The greater understanding of the ‘fitness points needed’ can transform your hydrogen landscape potential, or in business parlance, achieve your goal.

Mapping out your capabilities, competencies, and capacities to the task at hand enables you to understand and relate to what is needed. You begin to get fit for the journey ahead.

I took what I call a “Fitness Landscape Result Expectancies” approach.

Fitness Landscape Result Expectancies

My approach here is a work-in-progress; it will evolve and adapt depending on interest and demand.

These are my “first pass” of the expected results or points of investigation sought, by identifying the critical aspects of capability identification for the Hydrogen (or any energy transformation journey), to make it a significant contributor to the Future Energy Mix.

  • A greater understanding of the obstacles and barriers to Hydrogen, becoming a significant energy carrier in the future energy mix is critical to understand. It “conveys” the fitness landscape journey.
  • The understanding of what needs to be changed moves Hydrogen towards an energy transition that is sustainable and evolutionary built on technology investigation, validation, and ability to scale. Solutions gain world-wide. Recognition and adoption as the resulting outcomes and processes from discovery to realization.
  • The journey generates a learning process for the identification of real and ‘false’ dynamic capabilities. Dynamic capabilities bring about change in the environment. As we frame, we can identify differences separating the more static ones that often just need reinforcement or retirement as not of lasting value.
  • Pursuing limited or ‘selective’ development allows for restrictive exchanges within a network of specialization. These will not have the desired effect to accelerate solutions that can replace the existing ones unless the broader network effects are not accounted for.
  • Any fitness landscape journey, where change is a significant level of requirement, requires a holistic view of the existing issues and the intent and goal of the journey by framing a clear strategic plan to mobilize the necessary forces.
  • The solutions suggested will draw out internal discussions, growing recognition, and reality of the present and future needs in this area of resource allocation and capital allocation.
  • Importance of linking capability across different activities or technology applications to become increasingly ‘dynamic’ for a more sustainable future.
  • The ability to build out a clear capability portfolio knowing where resource needs to be applied and their likely timeframe from concept to fruition. These evaluations will also help identify synergies to bring new value and future impact options.
  • We need to challenge long, well-established routines and processes to see how we can extend technology options. To discover and continue the existing can be valuable to place additional resources behind.
  • Having clarity in the fitness landscape allows for regularly taking additional “adaptive walks” to learn and adjust current thinking and question alternatives more openly.
  • Knowing your capabilities, competencies, and capabilities intensifies and solidifies the studies, investigation, and importance of innovation through greater engagement and a growing understanding. You have greater confidence in where to invest new capital and resources.
  • Outcomes from these expected results raise dynamic capability and the importance of dynamism for more flexibility and fitness discovery. By identifying higher points of value, you accelerate the change process and plot different projects and their impact.

Looking for outcomes and outputs.

The reason I am building this into a workable model, is it firstly extends on my previous work in Innovation Fitness Landscapes. Within this adaptive approach to the Energy Transition, we can seek out and determine the Energy Fitness Landscape to then determine where the critical focal points are so the necessary resources, and capital can be applied.

I want to identify the necessary capacities, competencies, and capabilities to undergo this journey. Its ultimate aim is to identify outcomes that can become ones that give additional focus to knowing which are valuable. Also, which aspects need to extend the existing solutions and which have limited or no value and those resources and capital should be released to be redirected onto the ones that hold promise, impact, and value.

The energy complexities do need understanding, explaining, and mapping. The knowledge of how the traversing will be undertaken to get to the end goal of a clean energy system as soon as we can, needs often different articulation? Fitness landscapes help make the journey a lot easier to determine what is needed to undertake it.

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