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
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.
is uncoordinated in my industry?
could I connect them?
3. What community needs to be connected for
the benefit of the greater good?