About six months ago I left an awesome job at NERC. Back in 2011 I was being interviewed and was promised that I’d have interesting puzzles and meet interesting people. That particular gentleman, as is often the case, was correct. It’s extremely humbling when I read a book and continuously come across quotes from people I know, worked with and consider friends (maybe I should broaden my library collection). Being exposed to some tough problems at macro scale of an entire continent is rewarding and a unique, once-in-lifetime opportunity. My team and I worked behind the scenes and under some tight deadlines around events that in some cases my family watched on national news. Overall, I like to think we have a positive influence and I helped move the needle a little bit. Looking in the rear view mirror, being at NERC for nearly 6 years allowed (forced?) me to grow professionally in many areas. If you’re looking to push yourself up to a higher level both technically and professionally I absolutely recommend NERC.

But there are downsides. When at NERC I would occasionally talk about the NERC Distortion Field. This is the consequence of being perceived as the principal expert and enforcer of anything relating to electric grid or security. The reality is NERC’s position in industry gives us unique perspective but rarely unique knowledge. However, perception is everything and nobody wants to look look dumb in front of an expert, or worst; receive scrutiny, interest, or curiosity from an organization that could possibly have an enforcement action, compliance implication, or simply create confusion within Washington DC (that last one is not hard to do).

The NERC Distortion Field is rose colored and over time is easy to not notice. The NERC Distortion Field has everyone telling you what they are good at, not where they are lagging behind. The NERC Distortion Field provides mildly interesting information but only if it’s of little consequence. The NERC Distortion Field can focus on problems of political ramifications at the expense of security. The NERC Distortion Field is fueled by agendas.

The NERC Distortion Field is easily overcome by many who deal with it on a daily basis. Understanding and awareness of a bias has a large way of removing the bias in decisions. The distortion field is not a big bad thing or an excuse but just something that any good nercian manages it on a day-to-day basis.

However, after six months of being out I am reflecting on how consuming the distortion field is. I’ve been talking to customers these past six months; some of them I’ve known for years. It’s taken time to re-orient. The first few months I focused on talking about problems D E and F because the lingering NERC Distortion Field had me assume that problems A B and C were either solved or mostly solved. That is not the case. The NERC Distortion Field is a real thing and I’m continuing to manage it on a day-to-day basis.