Prof (Dr) Manoj Joshi

Dr. Manoj Joshi is a Fellow Institution of Engineers, Professor of Strategy, Director, Centre for VUCA Studies, Amity University, with 30+ years of experience in industry & research. He has authored 100+ articles, co-authored four books “VUCA in Start-ups” “The VUCA Company”, “The VUCA Learner”, “Technology Business Incubators” and is also on the Editorial Board of several international refereed Journals.

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Climbing up the ladder in a VUCA world of energy transition

To suffuse the existing disparity shall be instrumental in holistic achievement of all initiatives undertaken for the adoptive and sustainable transition to cleaner fuels at all levels of the societal strata. Let us then affirm our resolve to climb the ladder in this VUCA world of energy transition.

Can you conjure an image of economic prosperity while people still forage for energy sources? Can illumination be sought in darkness? The answer is self-evident in the questions. Inclusive access to energy is one of the most potent determinants of economic growth in the society. In this era of global environmental commitments, the access has to be for cleaner fuels or energy sources. World body like United Nations (UN) has outlined this as one of the sustainable goals for pan-global societal development. 

While disruption has become the keyword for the world we know, transition sans disruption is the key for a conventional sector like Energy segment which relates with intricate human need. The energy sector is embroiled in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) like situation predominantly due to global commitments towards carbon free/ carbon neutral fuel sources while at the same time global energy behemoths struggle with ideas to gainfully employ the remaining proven reserves of the fossil fuels. Lack of a strategic vision to counter the VUCA challenges will most certainly lead to existential obliteration for businesses and stakeholders in the coming decade. What are your thoughts?

Experience sharing from other countries portray that while active government support catalyses development of the cleaner fuels market creating a virtuous circle of market growth, enhanced investments and accessible availability, what still remains underexplored is the scope for fostering community based self-sustainable ecosystems to facilitate the energy transition. The challenges for addressing behavioural and societal aspirations at the very bottom of the socio-economic pyramid calls for cleaner foresight. 

As an example, in a survey study undertaken in rural China, it emerged that fuel stacking was more prevalent than a complete transition to cleaner fuels despite enhancement in purchasing power of the people. The households apparently preferred a gradual transition through expanding the choice of fuel mix. The existence of such realistic conditions at the ground zero calls for closer examination. 

Similarly, studies in Hawaii indicated that despite availability of large tax incentives from the government for switching over to renewable energy, an innovative interventional step like retrofitting of existing household equipment with energy-efficient alternatives in consumer homes was a cheaper alternative and more willingly adopted. 

In the Indian context, there exist isolated tales of new generation social-entrepreneurial success like the BERI project in the state of Karnataka, HuskPower in Bihar and few other setups, which harnessed technology-based treatment of wasteful biomass to generate cleaner fuel alternatives. They have successfully created community based sustainable ecosystem alongside their initiatives. Though encouraging, these initiatives are attributed to passionate and conscious entrepreneurs with little or no institutional support at their inception. 

It is more likely than not that the fast paced world of technology-based innovations will require complementary dosage of social innovation in the energy transition for emergent developing economies. It is imperative for social entrepreneurships to be acutely aware of the prevalent determinants while honing their radar for picking up tell-tale signals to meet the customer expectations in emerging markets. It has to gainfully create resources for its own survival by developing localized operations having implementable economic sustainability that can be scaled up for supporting micro level entrepreneurships. 

VUCA environment has been a claimant to its share of victims in businesses at altar of deliverance on account of human, behavioural and systematic or organizational reasons, the prominent outline being the intent to mint profits and attempting to scale up and diversify too early without developing core competence. At the pivotal juncture, the most potent mix of response to these factors for delivering performance under uncertainty is administered through suitable strategies combined with intensely consumer focused approaches.  

The way ahead

While the developing economies face an uphill task to make the energy transition in a smooth and decisive manner, sporadic one-time interventions may fizzle out unless changes are brought in at the community level. Participation from industries with expendable financial outlays in the sector may happen only with specific governmental policy directions and other compelling laws of the land. A huge gap is envisaged between the availability, affordability and reachability of the sustainable sources to the population lying at bottom of the pyramid. 

The emergence of a ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ as an entrepreneurial ecosystem for fostering innovation and technological advancements calls for exploration with the contextual objective to find enablers and uniting link for inclusive energy access. The strategic participation of innovative and passionate entrepreneurs who can bring meaningful impact at the ground level cannot be dealt in isolation anymore, even the education sector needs to pitch in to foster an environment promulgating sustained innovation and bring out capable risk-taking entrepreneurial leaders having belief in shared visions.

Synergistic efforts between government, national/international stake holders and a participative private sector knit together with house hold and community-level factors operating at macro-policy level provides the formative evaluation to assess and plan the necessary requirements, infrastructure, economics and cultural adaptation, needed for sustainably scaling up the clean fuels. To suffuse the existing disparity shall be instrumental in holistic achievement of all initiatives undertaken for the adoptive and sustainable transition to cleaner fuels at all levels of the societal strata. Let us then affirm our resolve to climb the ladder in this VUCA world of energy transition.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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