I thought I might take a few moments to provide some backstory given the recent buzz about my post yesterday announcing my move to the independent consulting path, the respective management transition at EnergySec and the recent post by Dale Peterson of DigitalBond highlighting the struggles the organization went through in December 2012.
First, the astute quote from Benjamin Franklin in title of this post is about preparation. We knew at the onset that the organization would need a heavier than usual executive load to provide the industry clout, clear direction and depth of experience needed to take the organization from its all-volunteer state to a self-sustaining nonprofit. We also knew that the startup mindset and staffing model would need to change once we saw clear evidence that the organization would be able to support itself. This is just smart business.
In December of last year, DOE re-affirmed commitment to the NESCO and extended the agreement but chose to hold their contribution until EnergySec could catch up to its part of the cost-share. At that time, the executives, in discussion with our Board of Directors and the NESCO Advisory Board, made the decision to streamline and enhance the operational capabilities to capture more immediate revenue. This was an easy call because we were already seeing steadily increasing positive traction with the NESCO Tactical Analysis Center and the organizational memberships. We were also running financial models to identify when the organizational changes to senior management would need to take place. The December circumstances required that we make some prompt staffing adjustments, close the cost-share gap, and ultimately re-instate the DOE cost-share contribution. The strategy is working. This approach is aligning the organization with the expected financial targets, but it was invoked slightly sooner than we forecasted.
Sure, partnering with any federal agency for funding is a challenge (ever tried to get VC for a nonprofit?). I've always said that federal grant money is "free like a puppy." We knew the risks going in, and unfortunately a fair share of those risks were realized. The risk landscape also included things like economic recovery/recession, competitive landscape, and politics. But as a result of the experience, we have a well-managed, lean, agile and tightly focused EnergySec operating the NESCO program. This benefits everyone.
I'm genuinely pleased with the direction the organization is going. EnergySec's story is a testament to the challenges inherent in sharing information effectively. It is an example of the complications found in public-private partnerships. It is proof of the strength and determination demonstrated by people dedicated to the security of our industry. We've been doing this longer than anyone else and we're still learning - as we should be.