The legendary reggae band releases the 2012 version of the Barack Obama Song >>
The 2008 video version is here >>
The legendary reggae band releases the 2012 version of the Barack Obama Song >>
The 2008 video version is here >>
I know what some of you are thinking - "Well, did America have a soul to begin with?" I happen to think it did. For me the soul of America is "We, the people..."
Furthermore, I'm quite sure that people, as defined by our founders, did not mean corporations. (See what Charles Handy has to say >>)
But to get back to the topic of inclusivity, I'd like to make a shameless plug for our new book, co-authored with University of Michigan's Professor Michael Gordon, called Inclusivity: Will America Find Its Soul Again?
BUY now >>
Michael Gordon's book, Design Your Life, Change the World: Your Path as a Social Entrepreneur [A GUIDE for CHANGEMAKERS] is for changemakers - the people and organizations that want to make a difference in the world.
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...
Are you a changemaker? Go find out >>
P.S. - you can download the PDF version here >>
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.
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.
Read all about it >>
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 sustainable future.
Read the whole post The $300 House: The Energy Challenge >>
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.
Join us >>
We're building a "creationspace" (JSB's word) for the $300 House-for-the-Poor at 300house.com >>
Please sign up, and tell your friends!
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.
What a wonderful world. While you were wrapping Christmas presents, China decided to lock up Liu Xiaobo and throw away the key.
Xiaobo's crime? He drafted Charter 08, which demands the open election of public officials, freedom of religion and expression, and the abolition of subversion laws.
His wife's cell phone mysteriously stopped working so she could not be reached by the press. Nice touch.
If this is how the New China plays the world, it looks too much like the Old China.
We need a new strategy to deal with this kind of stupidity. Obama can start by inviting the Dalai Lama to the White House.
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.”
Maybe Doug Smith was just a little ahead of the times when he wrote On Value and Values: Thinking Differently About We in an Age of Me - which to me is still the best book in this space.
Townsend makes a good point:
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.
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 Bezos do not manage their companies this way.
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?
I think he’d be very sympathetic. Drucker’s disillusionment with the level of executive greed he saw and we see today makes it very likely that he’d be a supportive fan.
And here’s an interesting quote from the man himself:
The leader cannot act in his own interests.It must be the in the interests of the customer and the worker. This is the great weakness of American management today.
[from A Class with Drucker: The Lost Lessons of the World’s Greatest Management Teacher, William A. Cohen, AMACOM 2008]
When results are poor, executives don’t deserve bonuses, right Peter?
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.
How long must we sing this song?
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.”
The extremists seem to have taken over Israel's soul.
Max Blumenthal says about his video:
I hope those who have watched it, especially those predisposed to dismiss it as anti-Israel propaganda or shock video with “no news value,” will at least ask how vitriolic levels of racism are able to flow through the streets of Jerusalem like sewage, why the grandsons of Holocaust survivors feel compelled to offer the Shoah as justification to behave like fascist street thugs, and how the sons and daughters of successful Jewish American families casually merged Zionist cant with crude white supremacism. The willful avoidance of these painful questions by self-proclaimed supporters of Israel is setting the stage for the complete delegitimization of the country they claim to love. As Obama said, “any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it.”
And on top of this we have morons like Rupert Murdoch.
On the other side, we have the moving story of Josh Lipsky and his trip to Buchenwald.
I see how easy it is to use hate to unite people - the Christian fundamentalists, white supremacists, Jewish settlers, Zionists, Hamas, Taliban, Al-Qaeda - flip sides of the currency of terror.
The world is not against you, Israel. You are against you.
Hat-tips to Dera and Steven for sending me these stories.
Never, never, never, never. Never will we forget this anonymous hero.
When China does get democracy one day, they will build a statue for him at the very spot in Tiananmen Square.
Global warming greatly exaggerated?
What's wrong with Freeman Dyson?
Maybe the climate models he's criticizing are off - but perhaps he hasn't seen the pine beetle destruction across North America - all the way from British Columbia to New Mexico. Perhaps he hasn't seen the dry, hot weather across California. Perhaps he hasn't seen the melting Glaciers in Glacier National Park. Perhaps he hasn't seen the mild winters in the Rockies. Perhaps he hasn't gotten out of his air-conditioned office...
This is what happens when you get too smart. I agree with his principal point - that PhDs are, for the most part, a bunch of nerds who are too busy examining parts of the elephant to see the animal itself. I even agree that we are not spending enough time working on poverty, infectious diseases, public education and public health. But to say that global warming is somehow less important misses the entire point. Of course they are all related. Of course we have to become radically more serious about sustainable development. But too say something this absurd? Really.
Here's where I do find myself agreeing with him:
I say the United States has less than a century left of its turn as top nation. Since the modern nation-state was invented, about the year 1500, a succession of countries have taken turns as top nation. First it was Spain, then France, then and Britain, than America. Each term lasted about 150 years. Ours began in 1920 so it should end about 2070.
I agree with his analysis as well:
The reason why each top nation's term comes to an end is that the top nation becomes overextended militarily, economically and politically. Greater and greater efforts are required to maintain the number one position. Finally, the overextension becomes so extreme that the whole structure collapses. Already we can see in the American posture today some clear symptoms of overextension.
But here's where he's missed the boat: the two are connected. If the United States decides to re-invent itself as a sustainable economy, it will lead for another 200 years, period. That is what Obama and Gore have figured out already, but somehow, this smart heretic has not connected the dots.
UPDATED: HealthMap from Google.org and the CDC >>
I have to say I'm not impressed by the swine-flu coverage in the traditional media.
What's interesting is that one company - Veratect - has done a better job of identifying, elevating, and monitoring this crisis.
Their swine-flu Twitter feed is here. Judge for yourself. >>
Photos here >>
Background: the politics of health >>
The biggest threat to global stability is the potential for food crises in poor countries to cause government collapse.
Read all about it in Scientific American >>
There was disturbing report at the beginning of the week which said that Mein Kampf was flying off the bookshelves in New Delhi, fueled by demand from students "who see it as a self-improvement and management strategy guide for aspiring business leaders, and who were happy to cite it as an inspiration."
I don't think so.
In my view, this is merely the latest round in the political extremism which is being fomented by groups like the BJP and thugs like Varun Gandhi.
When politicians use race, religion, and background to divide people and win votes, you know we're in a bad place. It doesn't matter if it's the Republicans or the BJP using these tactics, it's just plain evil.
We don't need another Sanjay Gandhi.
There are plenty of candidates out there vying to be India's Hitler. The question is: where is India's Obama?
Will a real Gandhi please stand up?
While newspapers and print outfits are losing their shirts all around us, the German company Axel Springer recently reported its "highest net income since the company was founded" 62 years ago.
How is this possible?
What are they doing that our friends at the NY Times aren't?
From the NYTimes:
Axel Springer generates 14 percent of its revenue online, more than most American newspapers, even though the markets in which it operates — primarily Germany and Eastern Europe — are less digitally developed than the United States.
One reason, Mr. Döpfner said, is that Axel Springer has dared to compete with itself. Instead of trying to protect existing publications, it acquired or created new ones, some of which distribute the same content to different audiences.
At one newsroom in Berlin, for example, journalists produce content for six publications: the national newspaper Die Welt, its Sunday edition and a tabloid version aimed at younger readers; a local paper called Berliner Morgenpost, and two Web sites.
Though advertising has slumped in Germany, Axel Springer has been able to offset the shortfall by raising the price of publications like Bild, which sells more than three million copies. Now Axel Springer is looking for “undervalued assets” to buy.
Mr. Döpfner said the company would even have a look in the United States “if a meaningful position arises in a significant market.”
OK. So what are newspapers in this country going to do? Stay tuned.