In this article I will talk about a basic human desire in association with a current trend in the American business world. I have said many times that the human being is a “herd” creature. In general, each of us wants to belong…. We all search for ways to fit in; to be accepted; to be approved of by our fellow humans. This desire is a built in part of our human structure. During the course of an average life time, we will witness and participate in many fads and trends. Depending on our immediate exposures, our personal priority structures and the precise timing of any given movement will we determine the degree of our own involvement. Many people have decided to have green hair. Many have not. Some choose to pursue certain careers in an attempt to capitalize on a particular trend and yet many others among us simply carry on a family tradition as a career.
As I write this in late 2014, I am focusing on a current movement that is revealing rapid growth in the acquisition of solar products in the private sector. The establishment of this industry, as we now know it, is a very good example of a lot of people making the decision to participate primarily due to its apparent popularity. Generally speaking, we have now found ourselves wanting to acquire solar on our homes because it has become “the thing to do”. To me this represents an irony of mixed emotions. On one hand I am very happy that solar has become so desired. This product allows the average consumer a choice and some form of control toward their energy consumption and their overall impact. On the other hand I am very concerned with the looming issues that I believe are just around the corner. I explain these issues in great detail in my book Solar Integrity. It is currently my belief that a growing percentage of those who decide to participate, whether personally or professionally, are primarily doing so due to the psychology of wanting to belong to something popular. I can show this to be true quite easily with a simple comparison. As little as 3-4 years ago the majority of potential clients I encountered did not want the solar array visible on the front side of their homes roof. I specified “front” as a means to show that this desire was based on other people seeing the modules that would not approve, aesthetically speaking. Now this is seldom a concern. This change of attitude has very little to do with the appearance of the equipment and everything to do with the perceived acceptability and approval of others. It is not a matter of the modules now looking drastically different (they have changed very little in their appearance) it is now believed that they are popular. So in a few short years the majority of people who once proclaimed they were ugly now have no problem putting them on the front of their house and this is all because these same people now believe that this is a popular thing to do.
The sales people who routinely produce the highest volumes will have a very good understanding of this part of the human psychology. Today’s solar business is full of sales people and companies who have themselves jumped on the proverbial band wagon of how solar is obtained and promote the very same to all of their potential clients. In short, they “do solar” because “everyone is doing it” (not to mention the very good profit margins while this bubble lasts). At this point I wish to be very clear; it is not the physical use of the products I question, it is the methods of acquisition and the motivations that determines the decision to participate. In and of itself, the usage of solar components is generally a very good thing. The coming issues that may plague the solar industry will be found in the “how” and “why” the products were obtained.
Everyday many people climb aboard this band wagon. They want to belong and not be left out. Sales people are ready with pen in hand and a 20 year contract. All you have to do is sign it so you can fit in with a very popular movement. My advice to those of you who would sign such a contract is to sincerely ask yourself why you would do so. All of those numbers and promises you are hearing from that salesperson can only materialize if there are no problems with what you are wanting to believe will happen for 20 years. I personally do not believe this will become reality. Guarantees are only as good as the company or individual providing them. I absolutely believe that the strong desire to belong is driving many to participate. Although I understand this undeniable part of our human makeup, I caution against its dominance in the decision making process of important matters.