It was my great honor to interview the “Father of modern Marketing” on his lifetime of achievements in marketing.
Professor Philip Kotler received the Thinkers50Lifetime Achievement Award for his work over the past 50 years. I am deeply grateful for his friendship and mentorship – and everything he has done to demonstrate how marketing must be a force for good.
It’s time to put aside our toys – our ideologies and guns – and look at this time in history as our final exam. This is a test, as Buckminster Fuller said, to see if we, the human species, deserve to carry on. COVID has shown us that we cannot find consensus on how to deal with the virus.
So what’s all the fuss about? The book is about asking questions:
How can companies take better care of their employees–and thrive?
Why don’t they see the opportunities in creating social value?
Do Americans think we have a fair distribution of wealth?
What are new means of putting our collective talents to work?
How can communities take the lead in creating opportunity?
How can public education prepare all students for the future?
How can better health care be made available without doctors?
How can communities do something about global warming?
How can you make a difference?
Why should you care?
Inclusivity: Will America Find Its Soul Again is a book of questions, hints, and suggestions about creating more opportunity for more people–starting with the USA, but looking at and learning from the rest of the world.
The very idea of the “United” States is based on the principles of inclusivity–all men and women are created equal under the law. But we seem to have lost our conviction that inclusivity is possible or even to be desired. The current divisive political climate, along with economic uncertainty, has fostered an atmosphere of fear and narrow-mindedness across the country.
What can we do in the face of this reality? The choice is not easy, but it is clear. Either we will decide to be more inclusive, or we will turn against each other – finding reasons to divide ourselves, not just from each other as citizens, but also from a shared future.
The USA, unless we decide otherwise, will become simply the SA.
This book is dedicated to an inclusive future for all our children, including my daughters M and K, and the idea that the United States is still the last best hope fordemocracy and inclusivity. We won’t have one without the other.
The book tries to answer two questions, says Professor Gordon:
1) How can organizations best address important societal problems such as poverty, inadequate health care, sub-par education, and an unhealthy planet?
2) What’s the best advice for students who want to address these issues and still live lives of relative comfort?
The reason I’m helping the professor is because now, more than ever, we need the brightest students to tackle the world’s biggest problems. And the oil-coal-nuclear lobby isn’t making things any easier…
No one could have known that when a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire in a public square, it would incite protests that would topple dictators and start a global wave of dissent. That’s the power of ecosystem disruption. The power of the Voice of the Planet (VoP).
The story is captured in this snippet borrowed from a larger infographic from the New York Times. The middle class is under historic assault in the US, explains Robert Reich, and this bodes badly for democracy, not just here, but all over the world.
Here’s the money quote:
Look back over the last hundred years and you’ll see the pattern. During
periods when the very rich took home a much smaller proportion of total
income — as in the Great Prosperity between 1947 and 1977 — the nation
as a whole grew faster and median wages surged. We created a virtuous
cycle in which an ever growing middle class had the ability to consume
more goods and services, which created more and better jobs, thereby
stoking demand. The rising tide did in fact lift all boats.
During periods when the very rich took home a larger proportion — as
between 1918 and 1933, and in the Great Regression from 1981 to the
present day — growth slowed, median wages stagnated and we suffered
giant downturns. It’s no mere coincidence that over the last century the
top earners’ share of the nation’s total income peaked in 1928 and 2007
— the two years just preceding the biggest downturns.
There’s a growing sense in the business community that we must find a way to work together again. To do this, we have to reject political terrorism – the political brinksmanship which prevents us from finding common ground or even beginning to look for honest solutions. Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, recently created a stir when he suggested that it was time to halt all political donations. Warren Buffett did the same with his no-nonsense plea to raise his taxes.
Welcome to the third world, America! Looks like we’re headed on the fast-track back to serfdom. Brought to you in large part by the GOP and corporate Democrats.
This chart by the folks at the Eurasia Group, got me thinking. Something just doesn’t make sense:
Then it hit me. This is a rather conventional way to screen for global opportunities. If we looked at other screens like “innovation potential,” “middle class expansion rate,” “Gini coefficient shrinkage,” or “corruption index,”you’d see a very different picture.
Seth Godin posts a very insightful blog entry on the HBR site. He’s talking about the challenges of marketing at the bottom of the pyramid:
When someone in poverty buys a device that improves productivity, the
device pays for itself (if it didn’t, they wouldn’t buy it.) So a drip
irrigation system, for example, may pay off by creating two or three
harvests a year instead of one.
The Solar Electric Light Fund‘s Bob Freling has posted an entry in Harvard Business Review about his Solar Integrated Development (SID) Maturity Model and how it fits into our concept of the $300 House.
Here’s Bob waxing eloquent:
Together with potable water, nutritious food, accessible health care,
educational opportunity, and economic empowerment, the $300 House
completes this virtuous ecosystem in which individual households and
their communities can march hand in hand towards a bright and
David Smith‘s HBR post on the financial challenge of the $300 House raises some very important issues:
Cracking the challenge of slums is the world’s biggest problem of the next quarter-century, because the ecology of slums and the ecology of cities are linked. We cannot have a healthy global economy without healthy cities, and we cannot have healthy cities without tackling slums.
Ever since the Haiti earthquake, I’ve been thinking about why we don’t have a quick-build house made of sustainable materials at a price point that the poor can afford (with micro-credit if needed).
The $300 House-for-the-Poor is an extension of the concept of “reverse innovation” (inspired by my client and friend VG) in which innovations developed in poor countries are then brought back for use in developed countries and other parts of the world. Housing impacts health, energy, education, and security.
What if we could build sustainably designed houses for the world’s poor at an affordable cost? What if these same designs could provide relief to refugees and victims of natural disasters? The we I’m referring to is a collaborative of companies, governments, and NGOs.
This type of a structure will be engineered in the same way the TATA Nano was engineered – without the traditional assumptions.
Once built, the $300 house should be used across the globe – from Haiti, to Africa, India, and yes, even in this country, to help the homeless.
So what are we waiting for? It’s time to get busy designing the $300 House!
…the idea was first conceived by an Indian physics professor at the
University of Maryland, who, in his travels around India, realized how
widespread bribery was and wanted to do something about it. He came up
with the idea of printing zero-denomination notes and handing them out
to officials whenever he was asked for kickbacks as a way to show his
resistance. Anand took this idea further: to print them en masse,
widely publicize them, and give them out to the Indian people. He
thought these notes would be a way to get people to show their
disapproval of public service delivery dependent on bribes. The notes
did just that. The first batch of 25,000 notes were met with such
demand that 5th Pillar has ended up distributing one million zero-rupee
notes to date since it began this initiative. Along the way, the
organization has collected many stories from people using them to
successfully resist engaging in bribery.
I like it. Now let’s send some “zero dollars” to the Famous Five justices Supreme Court, the Blue-Dog Democrats, and the entire Republican party.
First Tylenol, now Toyota. Same old story. Silence is not damage control.
Now the NHTSA is looking at the pedal maker. There must be a way to check the electronics – some way to look at the log files, perhaps?
Note that both companies are blaming their suppliers.
Is this the result of in-house PR?
Orville Schell’s portrait of a Nation that says “No, We Can’t”.
Somehow, I think that the US still offers the world the best way forward.
Yes, despite the lobbyists and the money-grubbing pirates in high office, there is still hope.
Don’t give in, America.
If you haven’t heard about free2work.org, you will. This is part of a growing explosion of consumer-education organizations dedicated to exposing “worst practices” among multinationals.
The hope is that if consumers know what is going on, they will vote with their purchasing power and seek out the companies that are doing good. I’m all for it. Who wouldn’t be? Oh, I forgot about the US Chamber of Commerce…
On the academic side of things, we see the same story emerging:
Rosabeth Moss Kanter‘s latest book, SuperCorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth, and Social Good argues that “the model of American capitalism that worked so well to raise the fortunes of millions of people last century appears to have hit a wall. What’s good for General Motors may no longer be good for the country. In its place must arise a new model of the company, one that serves society as well as rewarding shareholders and employees.”
So why can’t a company like GE follow down this path with “open reverse innovation”
– inviting small companies in India and China to submit their products,
services and ideas to be evaluated by GE for global distribution. Of
course, the open model would require an environment of trust –
but what better way to create goodwill in new markets than to be seen
as a development partner in the China, India, and resource-starved
Africa? A.G. Lafley sits on GE’s board; surely he could help them get started.
Townsend also proposes the formation of innovation collaboratives funded by companies like GE to create a pipeline of new products for GE.
Not a bad idea, if you consider that a recent McKinsey survey found that 20% of companies have opened up their
innovation processes to employees and customers and they report a 20%
rise in the number of innovations, on average.
American style management has been under some considerable stress these last few years. Now the nerds at Bain have some advice for the CEO. Apparently there are six dilemmas CEOs must face and – surprise! Bain has uncovered six strategies to help the CEO manage these dilemmas. Check out the cool diagram below:
I personally think the CEOs would be better off following VG’s 3 box strategy and executing on it. This other stuff is fine, but it doesn’t seem to be the stuff of great leadership. Nowhere do we see anything about creating great products or obsessing over your customers or sustainability. I bet Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezosdo not manage their companies this way.
How GE is Disrupting Itself describes the concept of reverse innovation – how products developed in and for low-cost countries (like India and China) by multinationals (like GE) lead to growth – not only in the low-cost market, but at home as well.
VG says the article has touched an “emotional” chord with readers who are saying that this approach is just what “western” multinationals should be doing – designing products for the local market at a price-point which is within reach.
Check out the advertisement for one such product:
To me, this is just the first step to being truly global (as they say at Thunderbird). With business commitments at a local level, social commitments will surely follow.
Now let’s see some “ecomagination” in action and build portable solar/wind electrical generators for off-grid villages at an affordable price-point. Right, Bob?
Vijay Govindarajan’s Innovation Quarterly is now open to subscribers.
It’s free, and it’s going to be good. Sign up if you’re interested in how innovation works. Disclosure: VG truly is one of the sharpest minds in the business world, and I’m privileged to work on his newsletter!
I know we are entreprenurial geeks, but this is a staggering statistic: Though Indians make up barely half a percent of the U.S. population, between 1995 and 2005, they founded more than 15 percent of all the startups in the greatest technological center (Silicon Valley) the world has ever known. Read all about it >>
What’s the business value of democracy?
Finally, the real value of Twitter revealed>>
“We’ve been struck by the amount of video and eyewitness testimony,” said Jon Williams, the BBC world news editor. “The days when regimes can control the flow of information are over.”