Eletrobrás is the Brazilian government state company responsible for electrical energy efficiency and they offer several energy efficiency programs. One of these programs helps small municipalities reduce consumption of electricity and improve the energy efficiency of operations that use electricity. Until 2004, this program followed an approach that failed to meet the company's targets for improvement, and thus a new approach was proposed. This paper reports on the successful implementation by Eletrobrás of a creative process in 43 small municipalities. The results show that both the municipalities and their inhabitants managed to reduce consumption as a result of the new approach. The municipal employees – people with varying but often low schooling – felt their self-esteem increase as they solved problems and taught their clients to save energy.
Our research began in 1958 and by 1960 we believed we knew enough about the creative process to start our own invention company, Synectics, Inc. In addition to inventing products to develop ourselves, we offered a service called a Problem Innovation Laboratory. When a company wanted a new product, service, process, or had a serious problem, we asked it to bring the relevant people to our laboratory. Over a two and a half day period we facilitated meetings in which they solved their own problem.