Focusing Energy At Chevron

Chevron has invited a handful of experts as well as the general public to join a discussion about the planet’s energy future.

We should applaud this effort. Wherever the effort sits on the spectrum of ‘toe in the water/public relations’ to ‘serious inquiry”, it does allow for discussion — perhaps most importantly among the employees and executives of Chevron (the ‘thick we’ so well positioned to do something about how Chevron’s actual strategy creates a best future for the planet).

In saying, this, though we also need to pay attention to how Chevron sets up the dialogue because how a problem is defined contributes critically to the effectiveness of problem solving itself. As the old Yankee once said, “Well’s begun is half done.”

The current question is posed like this: Who should be primarily responsible for ensuring we conserve more energy — governments, businesses or market forces?

Look, this is obviously an important question and can support a healthy debate. But it is also defective in a serious way because of the use of ‘primarily’. That word — indeed, even the question without that word — sets up an ‘either/or’ debate. But, no one can solve the complicated energy challenges we face with either/or approaches. We need both/and thinking and problem solving.

The debate would be richer and more pragmatic if the question posed were this: “How can business, government and non-governemental organizations work together to ensure we conserve more energy? And, how would any of us know such efforts were successful?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *