Strategic Plan


Nearly all utilities across the country, including the Lansing Board of Water & Light (BWL), face significant change over the next five years. The BWL General Manager and Board of Commissioners, working with BWL staff, have prepared an updated BWL Strategic Plan as a high-level tool, providing a “road map” of strategic goals and priorities to meet these changes while supporting the BWL Mission, Vision and Values.

To develop this Strategic Plan, BWL staff interviewed BWL executive and senior staff, union leadership (IBEW 352) and subject matter experts across the organization. Each interview consisted of an evaluation of the BWL’s current Mission, Vision and Values statements. This processes allowed for refinements to be made to the Mission, Vision and Values statements that were reflective of the common feedback gathered during the interviews. The revised Mission, Vision and Value statements serve as the foundation for the Strategic Plan.

These strategies and priorities are the essence of the BWL’s strategic direction, allowing the BWL to addresses the challenges and opportunities, while providing a common understanding of the strategic goals for communication and planning at all organizational levels.

Strategic Goals

Five priorities were created from common themes that arose from the interviews. These are areas where the majority of the company’s resources should be focused for this Strategic Plan. For each priority, there are multiple strategies that need to be met in in order to address the challenges and take advantage of opportunities.

Goal: Enhance the customer utility experience and enrich the community we serve.

Strategy 1: Measure, monitor and respond to customer feedback and expectations

Strategy 2: Provide innovative and cost-effective utility products, services and programs that leverages technology

Strategy 3: Support community engagement that includes education, volunteerism and sponsorships

Strategy 4: Promote economic development and regional partnerships that create growth and synergy

Goal: Maintain a workforce that embraces safety, is agile, diverse, engaged and prepared to support the BWL’s success.

Strategy 1: Cultivate a Generative Safety Culture*

  • Generative: organizations set very high standards and attempt to exceed them. They use failure to improve, not to blame. Management knows what is really going on, because the workforce tells them. People are trying to be as informed as possible, because it prepares them for the unexpected. This state of "chronic unease" reflects a belief that despite all efforts, errors will occur and that even minor problems can quickly escalate into system-threatening failures.
  • Proactive: moving away from managing SAFETY based on what has happened in the past to preventing what might go wrong in the future. The workforce start to be involved in practice and the Line begins to take over the SAFETY function, while SAFETY personnel reduce in numbers and provide advice rather than execution.
  • Calculative: focus on systems and numbers. Lots of data is collected and analyzed, lots of audits are performed and people begin to feel they know "how it works". The effectiveness of the gathered data is not always proven though.
  • Reactive: safety is taken seriously, but only after things have gone wrong. Managers feel frustrated about how the workforce won’t do what they are told.
  • Pathological: people don’t really care about SAFETY and are only driven by regulatory compliance and/or not getting caught.

Strategy 2: Attract, develop and retain a highly skilled, diverse and culturally intelligent workforce

Strategy 3: Cultivate employee engagement that promotes a positive work environment, professional development and career growth with emphasis on succession planning


*From Hearts and Minds Energy Institute

Goal: Maintain a leadership role in providing energy solutions that support a sustainable planet.

Strategy 1: Enhance and promote policies, practices and standards that support carbon reduction and a healthy eco-system

Strategy 2: Increase renewable energy portfolio and energy waste reduction  

Strategy 3: Support emerging beneficial electrification opportunities

Strategy 4: Enhance sustainable water operations

Strategy 5: Educate customers on BWL’s sustainable practices 

Goal: Apply principles of operational resilience and continuous improvement to all organizational assets, such as equipment, people and knowledge.

Strategy 1: Identify and respond to opportunities for continuous improvement that balance performance, cost and risk 

Strategy 2: Apply industry benchmarks and standards reflecting best practices

Strategy 3: Identify, mitigate and monitor barriers to providing utility services

Goal: Maintain a financially viable organization.

Strategy 1: Continue to refine our rate structure for existing and new customers 

Strategy 2: Sustain fiscal and fiduciary responsibility through planning, analysis, policies, practices and internal controls

Strategy 3: Pursue opportunities and adopt practices that enhance BWL’s competitiveness

Strategy 4: Identify, evaluate and implement revenue diversification opportunities