Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The Power Of The Shed

This year's Green Challenge Competition is open for entries, and the organisers asked me to write a few words for their blog - www.greenchallengeblog.com, so in a shameless act of laziness, I thought that I'd repost it here...

Sometimes we all need a little encouragement – the problems in front of us can seem too big, too difficult, and it can seem that the future just holds more work and little in the way of reward . That’s when it’s nice to get a little encouragement - just a pat on the back, or recognition of the work that you’ve done. My encouragement came last week when I was visiting a company in the Netherlands.

the meeting itself went very well, and when I was leaving their offices, I noticed poster on the wall that echoed a firmly held belief in the power of the shed. Here’s some of what the poster said:

Believe you can change the world

Know when to work alone, and when to work together

Share – tools, ideas. Trust your colleagues.

No politics, no bureaucracy (these are ridiculous in a shed)

Radical ideas are not bad ideas.

Believe that together we can do anything.


So what is the power of the shed? Right now, across the world, ideas are being hatched, and technology is being invented that will help to save our planet. Ideas that will save energy, ideas that will help us to grow more food, ideas that will lead to better lives for all of our children. And these ideas are not being developed by huge multinational companies; these ideas belong to ordinary people, working with limited resources – in sheds, garages, and in houses around the world. The danger is that these ideas might not be recognised, and be lost forever before they have had the chance to prove their worth. Every day, people are having moments of insight, and having ideas that could be as important as the invention of the wheel – but their voices aren’t heard, their ideas aren’t explored, and we run the risk of overlooking something that could change our world. Because the men and women behind these ideas don’t have the backing of huge companies, it can be a difficult task to get your ideas heard, and more difficult still to persuade people that your ideas can make a real difference.

It could very easily have been a very different story for The Power Collective. We had designed and the RidgeBlade, we were convinced that the product was a good one, and that it could make a real difference in terms of carbon reduction and fuel poverty, but sometimes that is not enough. Market forces do not always work in favour of new ideas – too often small or new companies are left to fail for lack of finance or recognition, and we were funding the company ourselves, paying no wages, and struggling to make progress - until we got lucky... We entered and won the Green Challenge Competition!

The Green Challenge means that there is somewhere to go with the ideas that can change the world. It means that at least some of the ideas that can change the world will be given the chance to prove themselves, and that those lucky enough to win will be given a huge helping hand in the form of prize money to realise their ideas. So there is no excuse – if you have an idea that can change the world, even in a small way , get out of the shed and enter the competition. People want to listen to your ideas, and who knows – you could even win!