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Exelon seeks ‘culture of innovation’ with third expo

At M&T Bank Stadium, an energy titan encouraged its employees to experiment — and possibly fail.

Exelon employees browse presentations at Tuesday's Innovation Expo.

(Photo by Tyler Waldman)

Creating a smart grid for gas distribution. Streamlining IT.
When Exelon wanted to find fresh ideas, the Chicago-based energy titan on Tuesday again looked to Baltimore.
More than 70 Exelon employees — from Baltimore-based Constellation Energy and BGE, with others hailing from units elsewhere — presented at the company’s third Innovation Expo at M&T Bank Stadium.
The expo has been held in Baltimore twice. The second was held in Chicago earlier this year.

"You've got to build a culture where your employees feel empowered to come up with ideas. Fail inexpensively, fail quickly, but that's the goal."
Exelon CIO Sonny Garg

“There’s multiple goals to it, but fundamentally, it’s about creating a culture of innovation within Exelon,” Exelon CIO Sonny Garg told Technical.ly Baltimore. “Our industry is this massive transition, with a lot of change coming — whether it’s distributed generation or smart homes, smart grid, smart meters — and we need our employees to be thinking about [how to] embrace the change rather than resist it.”
The presentations from Exelon colleagues serve dual purposes, Garg said.
“It inspires people to do something. Two, it actually prompts people to think about doing them,” he said. “People will come here, they’ll see something and they’ll be like, ‘Oh my God, I can use that in my department.'”
In addition to BGE, Exelon owns public utilities PECO (in Pennsylvania) and ComEd (in Illinois), and is pursuing a purchase of Washington-area utility Pepco, pending regulatory approvals. Exelon also operates fossil fuel, renewable and nuclear energy production facilities in a number of states including Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois and as far away as Nebraska and Texas.

"People will come here, they'll see something and they'll be like, 'Oh my God, I can use that in my department.'"
Exelon CIO Sonny Garg

Outside presenters included Tesla Motors and Nest. A panel featured Exelon CEO Chris Crane talking with leaders from Nest and General Electric about the “internet of things.”
“Innovation doesn’t come from the top,” Garg said. “If you’re waiting for an executive sitting at an executive to say, ‘Oh, I’ve got a great idea.’ You’re never going to get there. You’ve got to build a culture where your employees feel empowered to come up with ideas, then have the ability to go execute them and then have the ability to fail. Fail inexpensively, fail quickly, but that’s the goal.”

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Companies: BGE, General Electric
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