The renowned German sociologist and philosopher Niklas Luhmann is best known for his work in systems theory. His theory focused on three topics – systems theory as societal theory, communication theory and evolution theory. In short, he believed society is communication. Communication happens within social systems that communicate in their own language, following their own logic. This therefore makes it challenging to communicate with other systems (or societies,cultures, etc) with different language and logic.
While this is an academic way to think about communicating, it is something we deal with daily when working with partners all over the US and increasingly all over the world. As the General Counsel at MEI (with English as my second language), I am curious about communication and constantly trying to improve how we communicate with our partners.
As part of this effort, I decided to sign up for MasterClass. One of the best classes on the platform is from Neil deGrasse Tyson on scientific thinking and communication. He emphasizes that it is equally important to find objective truths as it is to communicate effectively. For deGrasse Tyson, “it is not enough to be right. It also has to work.”
Developing and investing in solar projects requires the participation of several actors that come from all different backgrounds and parts of the country, or even the world. Developers, contractors, engineers, offtakers, landlords, bankers and lawyers all come with their own understandings, truths, and incentives. Our goal is to find that objective truth and communicate that truth effectively among all the players in the deal.
The challenge that we face every day is not to standardize or change those understandings, truths, and incentives. We instead aim to understand all parties involved and do our best to balance the benefits and risk of each deal to maintain our promise of certainty, speed, and trust to our partners.
To add value as a platform we cannot merely act as a translation service or a means in which to transact and fund a project, we need to go deeper. To do so, we have built a team that thrives on curiosity and wants to understand why our partner has a certain need, or request. For instance, we might ask why an EPC selected string inverters for a project, or why the developer inserted a certain termination clause in a PPA. Understanding the why will inform our entire strategy holistically, from how we finance the project to how we manage the asset over the long term. We want to understand the incentives and constraints that deGrasse Tyson mentions in his MasterClass so we can build a bridge that takes us to our common objective, quickly.
Transactions with many different stakeholders can be complicated especially with the high standard of speed we hold ourselves to. The projects we invest in come in all shapes and sizes so reducing complexity is key to transact with speed. Reducing complexity and achieving certainty requires effective communication. At MEI, effective communication is built on our team’s intellectual curiosity and interest in our partner’s understandings, truths, and incentives to build a project, together.
We reduce complexity by approaching documents with a nimble mindset, while still encompassing the needs of our partners. Our goal, as always, is to build trust by having your interest in mind when you engage with us. Come talk to us!
– Guillermo Sandoval Coustasse