strategy

Occupy your supply chain - can crowdsourcing be a game changer for sustainable brands?

Sustainable Life Media

Sustainable brands have the opportunity to take advantage of this new level of connectivity with producers and consumers to do what their profit-only competitors cannot: build passionate, engaged customers around real stories of impact.

My team at the Hoop and I just had great piece published by Sustainable Life Media where we discuss how crowdsourcing is the key to unlocking massive customer engagement opportunities that only sustainable brands can master.

Millions of people across the globe have been inspired by the recent "occupy" movement that has ignited in Wall Street, a movement that at its heart is about the rights to participate, share, and have a voice in global forces shaping our lives. We believe that sustainable brands and companies investing in sustainable supply chains are a phenomenal foundation for everyday people to start participating in supply chains of products that come through our lives every day.

These companies not only have the impact that inspire real participation, but stories that can - and should - be owned and shared by everyone involved across the whole value chain: from producer, to brand, to retailer, to customer. Crowdsourcing is a unique and powerful way to enable that mass ownership.

Check out the article!

Like riding a bike - 5 tips to breakthrough to business

Kid riding a bike
Kick off the training wheels

When I was a kid learning to ride a bike, I was convinced that I first needed to figure out how to balance. You know... without moving. Fortunately, my mom saw my predicament and one day just pushed me and my bike off the driveway. To my surprise I didn't fall, and pretty quickly I was cruising around the neighborhood on my own. The lesson?

It's hard to get stability without forward momentum.

Similarly, I often notice a key balancing moment when the enterprises I work with go from being just promising ideas to something tangible. In India - for a new venture that promoted soy protein and nutrition - that moment came when our local team went from just talking about soy protein to actually cooking with it in their neighbors' kitchens… hundreds of them. Those experiences, and what it took to make them happen, changed everything: building an initial set of capabilities, credibility, and consumer relationships that actually pulled the business forward.

It's understandable that with so many details to manage in launching a business, you might instead get stuck in my poverbial driveway. But the key is to concentrate less on what your business will look like once it gets moving, and just figure out what you need to do to get it moving. Focus your efforts on an attainable breakthrough that will change everything.

The caring conundrum – beyond badges for social enterprise

save the earthGreen not working? Try chocolate...
source:cafepress

At a loss for how to explain what I do for a living, my sister once described my work as “something to do with pyramid schemes and poor people.” I can laugh at it now (the base of the pyramid is an awful phrase for a number of reasons), but the incident highlights how contradictory most people find the combination of capitalism and doing good for the world.

Even when familiar with enterprises that use “capitalism for good”, most people generally call to mind a class of companies that fill a small, though often profitable, niche of eco- or socially-conscious consumers. By in large, growth in those markets is defined by how much you can make people care (about the planet, about people, about pandas).

Green badge: Do Good, Buy Now!

There’s another class of companies, however, who may use green means, but who don’t rely on consumer sentiment about society or the environment to sell their stuff. Among these are many of the companies I have worked with in recent years, where the name of the game has been catalyzing massive new markets, primarily in the so-called base of the economic pyramid. While they used inclusive means to serve poor communities, these companies’ goals were those of growth-seeking, profit-oriented enterprises.

Learning to Swim - Back in Brazil

I've been very happy with how far my Portuguese has come, especially after having been gone from Brazil for so long, yet my ability to communicate here is like being able to swim in a gentle sea, enquanto tudo tá tranquilo, tudo bom! ("While everything is calm, no problem!") But while sitting in on CatComm's open forum, a meeting for feedback from community partners and constituents, I experienced a very different world of linguistic aquatics; visualize the crashing waves at Ipanema, Brazil's most famous of beaches, where the people are beautiful but the weak stay out of the water.

Last night, a dozen of us met inside the Casa do Gestor Catalisador, CatComm's home and technology hub in Rio, located on the edge of the downtown, in a historic district by the bay and the center of the old slave trade. Around us on the Casa walls, on mounted wood or printed t-shirts, hung windows into the world of the favelas, the works of Brazilian photographer Maurício Hora, a man with an incredible capacity to capture the spirit of place on film. Maurício sat to my left, Theresa to my right, the rest were spread out in a circle around the room, community leaders and artists, passionate Brazilians all; not quite what my beach and bar Portuguese had prepared me for.

Base of the Samosa - What's in a name?

There's nothing like a room full of blank stares to tell you that you have just used the wrong word, nobody there knows what you're talking about and you need to adapt, but what do you do when that word is at the heart of what you do? When that glazed-eye-inducing offender is printed all over your business cards?

Erik, Kabi, Edwin and I are in a meeting hall in Kibera, a shanty town in Nairobi, Kenya which, with an estimated one million people, is one of Africa's, if not the world's, largest slums. We're running the second of four community engagement workshops in which we are preparing local community groups, entrepreneurs and social enterprises, on how to best approach and prepare for a partnership with multinational companies; in this case, how to partner with our main corporate sponsor, SC Johnson. This is what we do, we bring people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse resources together, "a creative collision of world views", to create new market opportunities for multinationals and locally grown businesses for poor communities via a process of "mutual value creation". Buzz phrase laden work, yes, but it's actually all been going quite well so far, except that now our community partners are stuck on our name. Behind us, on a brown flip chart taped to the wall, is drawn a large three sided figure, a triangle really, with the words "Base of the Pyramid" written on top, or BoP for short. That's us.

Innovation, Ignorance, and Coming off the Mountain

"I could use a hundred people who don't know there is such a word as impossible"
- Henry Ford, Sr.

We admit having a bit of a fascination with Henry Ford, a man, who in our minds, was one of the world's greatest social entrepreneurs and enablers of the common man, who also happened to become insanely wealthy to boot. How could you not be fascinated with him? When people tell us we're nuts trying to make money working with today's version of the comman man, the 4+ billion "poor" living in the Base of the Pyramid, we point at Henry Ford and say, "He was nuts too,"and then a moment later add, "and I'm with stupid."

However, it was Ford's notorious dislike for "experts" that we find the most compelling:

Capturing the Unexpected Innovation - MTN villagePhone (Uganda)

Where should you look for the unexpected? Try finding a different world view.



"the unexpected success is not just an opportunity for innovation; it demands innovation. It forces us to ask, What basic changes are now appropriate for this organization in the way that it defines its business? Its technology? Its markets? If these questions are faced up to, then unexpected success is likely to open up the most rewarding and least risky of all innovative opportunities."

- Peter Drucker, Innovation and Entrepreneurship

At BRINQ, we believe those living in the Base of the Pyramid (BOP), the so-called poor, are a huge source for something unexpected: innovation. And particularly a type which we like to call "innovation in utility", the novel and unexpected ways in which people use technology. It's simple really, when does your invention become a true innovation?

Somebody uses it.

Lots of somebodies, and often in a way you didn't expect.

Discordant Notes - More Disruption for the Music Industry

Demonstrating Apple's GarageBand

Headlines about the assault on the traditional music industry are a common sight, but most often these articles concern the disruption of traditional distribution and sales mechanisms by peer to peer networks and digital media. Yesterday though, the New York Times ran an article describing the latest discordant notes for the music industry, "Home Sweet Studio", detailing the rise of the home recording studio and digital tools for content creation.

"Mr. Pierce is part of a quiet revolution in music-making: the move from professional studios to home recording. Making an album used to mean booking a fixed amount of very expensive time in a well-equipped but unfamiliar room; now, it can be a matter of rolling out of bed and pressing a button. Whether it's Mice Parade's indie-rock, Aesop Rock's underground hip-hop, the twilit ballads of Keren Ann, the mercurial California rock of the Eels or sweeping Top 40 contenders from Moby, more and more music is emerging not from acoustically perfect state-of-the-art studios, but from setups tucked into bedrooms and basements or simply programmed onto a laptop."

Disrupting the mainstream

Traditional companies in the multi-billion dollar recording industry can be described as providing three major services: distribution & sales, marketing, and recording. The rise of home studios and garage bands foretells the disruption of the third area, recording, but could also have impacts on the first two areas.

Looking for Exponential Value - Lessons in Leadership

It should be obvious that there really is a limit to how much one person can do or to how much one person can earn; we should be looking for ways to create exponential value. Remind budding leaders about that every time they think about going it alone. For a developing leader, every "individual" success can be viewed as just reinforcing a bad habit; it blinds you from seeing how much greater your success could have been if you had looked beyond yourself.

You Need More than Magic - KXI's "World Filter"

“No single measure would do more to reduce disease and save lives in the developing world than bringing safe water and adequate sanitation to all.”

- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Millennium Report

How do we meet the clean water needs of the world's billions?

Connecticut based KX Industries may have the answer.

Perhaps you never heard of KX Industries (KXI), but you probably tasted the fruits of its work, they created the technology behind the PUR and BRITA "end of tap" filters: those water purifying pitchers we all know and love. Directed by CEO Dr. Evan Koslow and investor Kevin McGovern, KXI has recently developed an exciting new water filter technology, the "World Filter".

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