I’ve interviewed hundreds of business outthinkers, and one of the most common patterns of success is "coordinate the uncoordinated."
We’ve seen this work for companies like Credit Justice Services, an ethonomic credit repair company that operates using a network of account advisers from across the United States. We saw how President Obama coordinated supporters by using Facebook and Twitter, and he reached out with email campaigns, registration sites and donation sites to make it easier than ever for supporters to take part in his campaign.
As if turning rice husks into energy wasn’t enough, Chip and Manoj were focused on making that invention even more valuable. The team diverged from industry norms that dictated that the most efficient process was to produce electricity centrally, at a large plant, and then distribute it widely. Husk could have designed a large power plant, but instead chose to design small, local ones.
Husk’s power plants are about the size of a truck. Each "mini power plant" produces 35 to 100 kW of electricity, which is enough to service a village of 2,000 to 4,000 inhabitants for much of the day.
Creating a decentralized network of mini power plants cut against the norms of the energy industry. But it offered several advantages. "Each plant is locally operated," explains Chip. "So it produces local jobs and uses local waste."
As such, a plant becomes something that benefits the local community, something they can take pride in. This approach avoids pitting communities against each other, fighting for electricity distribution rights, arguing about waste and jobs.
Where most of us think about organizations, the innovators succeeding today seem to increasingly think in terms of communities, or looser networks of agents that together form something bigger.
Husk is focused on making small, decentralized power plants, and it is dedicated to making sure that the plants provide a sense of pride for the community.
As Chip says, "We only use rice husks from the locally produced agriculture. We hire people locally; we give at least three people jobs in each village. We collect money locally through people who the local residents know well. We provide service in a very reliable fashion."
Just as birds form flocks and fish form schools, Husk’s mini-plants and local electricity distribution networks form something bigger even though they are not physically connected.
Ask yourself the questions below to see how you can get coordinated and make a difference.
1. Who is uncoordinated in my industry?
2. How could I connect them?
3. What community needs to be connected for the benefit of the greater good?