Tip for Building Consensus on Smart-Grid Standards: Don't Be a Jerk


Updated: The time line for creating the standards for what could be the largest infrastructure build-out of the decade, the smart grid, is shorter than a Paris Hilton skirt. So expect the condensed time frame and the complex undertaking to lead to some heated discussions. At a workshop taking place today and tomorrow in National Harbor, Md., the Electronic Power Research Institute, which is helping the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop standards, is even offering guidelines for how engineers and policy makers can remain cool, collected and productive during the process.

The event’s master of ceremonies, Erfan Ibrahim of EPRI, sent out the guidelines in the workshop material this morning. The basic translation: Don’t be a total jerk. Here’s a selection of some of the gems:

  • Avoid debates on topics that are not in the scope of this workshop
  • Document non-resolvable issues instead of belaboring them at the expense of the session agenda
  • Demonstrate professional courtesy by allowing people to speak without interruption
  • Be open to having your mind changed by new ideas and/or perspectives
  • Demonstrate the courage to recognize the shortcoming of your argument in the face of a compelling counterargument and withdraw your position promptly
  • Think out of the box and seek commonalities with others instead of obsessing on the differences
  • Focus on building consensus around the process of selecting standards rather than lobbying for your favorite standard using subjective reasoning or appeal to authority
  • Respect the national priority behind this initiative and exercise your civic duty to make it successful
  • Use systemic thinking in sizing overall benefits from the choices to be made (avoid myopic views)


Heather Hansen

Hey Katie –great post! Just wanted to let you know it’s the Electric Power Research Institute — not Electronic! Could you correct?

Thanks, and keep up the great work!!

Heather Hansen
EPRI Media Relations

Comments are closed.