Transpower

Managing all long-distance electricity transmission across the country.

Transpower
Who we worked with

Transpower

What we did together

10-day challenge

Key Skills

Problem discovery, ideation


Transpower is a New Zealand company with a big job: manage all the long-distance electricity transmission across the country. Electricity generated by power plants gets transmitted through Transpower’s long-distance lines, then handed off to local lines companies, who distribute to consumers.

Transpower needed to find better ways to manage long-term, critical assets. They hired Creative HQ to run innovation workshops to unlock existing capability in their team.

Creative HQ created a cross-functional team, assisted with clear articulation and definition of the problem, then helped find solutions through Creative HQ’s 10-Day Challenge.

“Creative HQ helped us find new ways to manage critical assets. It’s safer, more affordable and has lower deliverability risk.”

Jeremy Cain, Transformation Manager, Transpower

How we did it

Transpower knew that they had excellent internal capability to solve these tough, expensive problems – they just needed to unlock the existing talent. Unleashing talent in large organisations requires skills and approaches not typically used as part of “business as usual” in most organisations.


In line with Creative HQ’s 10-day challenge format, Transpower’s problem was approached in a three-step process:

Step 1: Team selection

The best way to solve any innovation challenge is to assemble a small, high performing team of entrepreneurially-minded staff. Highly effective innovation teams need to be diverse and cross-functional.The secret to solving innovation problems is to keep the team small (7 people max) but connected to a wide range of subject matter experts and specialists who can provide deep expertise in critical areas. 

Creative HQ used the CH3 innovation assessment to assemble the team and ran a series of bootcamps, where volunteer Transpower staff were observed doing high-pressure innovation tasks. This process revealed a 5-person team best suited for the challenge.

Step 2: Problem definition

Next, Creative HQ and the newly formed Transpower team set out to define the asset management problems to be solved. Over six weeks, the team carried out internal and external research. They went through an “insighting” process to understand what solutions have been tried by Transpower in the past and other grid operators globally.

The team also investigated other organisations (e.g. oil and gas companies with ageing steel assets). At the end of this preparation phase, the team had developed a comprehensive understanding of the various problems and root causes associated with the Challenge. The insighting process also ensured that the essence from vast amounts of data and material was readily available for the next step.

Step 3: 10-Day challenge

The small team spent 10 intensive days working on solution development. They used material from the preparation phase to ideate new concepts, build and test models, and prototype solutions. At the end of the sprint, the most promising concepts were pitched to Transpower’s executive leadership team for further consideration.

Creative HQ facilitated the entire process end-to-end (including the preparation phase) and was able to unlock the capability and untapped potential already present at Transpower. The 10-Day Challenge is about giving people permission to work together in new ways and experiment rapidly with high discipline.

The result

Some of the key results were:

  • The solutions developed during the 10-Day Challenge have significantly reduced the lifecycle cost of managing NZ’s electricity grid towers and conductors.
  • The deliverability risk for long term critical infrastructure replacement projects has been reduced drastically
  • Staff and contractors assessing conductor wires are better protected.
  • The overall grid resilience and Transpower’s ability to manage network risks related to conductor failure has improved substantially.

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