I was reading Made To Stick..(I know, I know… I’m slow. it takes me a while to FINISH books because when I find something interesting I have to run to google or wikipedia for further research.. its a sad pathology, really).
Well in this case (as it does rarely), it proved fruitful.
Made To Stick references some research that establishes the emotional nature of requesting charitable donations from people. I won’t go into detail here, because I really think people should read this book, but the research showed that people who are primed analytically with alarming statistics about poverty and human atrocities in Africa are LESS likely to donate than those who read a story of a single girl who could use the donated money to dramatically improve her life. This is not new news– Charities have been doing this since the 1950s (I even remember seeing stuff the Save-a-Child TV campaign when I was a wee lad). But what is interesting is thinking about new models that use the same technique: Kiva.org (Peer to peer microfinance lending) is fantastic because it uses this emotional model to connect a donor with a person in need.
Here’s a link to Small and Lowenstein’s research paper.
And here’s an easier-to-read article from SSI review about the same topic.
To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.
– Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)
This makes me a little sick.
If this product placement/word-of-mouth isn’t painstakingly obvious, I dont know what is. Why don’t marketers just make freaking tatooos of people’s favorite media and bands and encourage teens to put it on their foreheads and walk around??
Or wait.. Why not just target the “Influentials“?
…After all, the token “Z”-pluralization that’s come to characterize any product designed for prepubescent teens is destined to attract GAZILLIONS of teenagers, prompt them to build repulsive websites, and encourage their teeny-bopper friends to buy, in droves, substandard music, and movies that make society as a whole a little stupider than we currently are.
Sorry. I didn’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning or anything, but crappy products that add no value to their users vex me tremendously.
I was listening to a Stanford Center for Social Innovation podcast yesterday and William McDonough, who was the speaker, mentioned the phrase "Triple Top Line". I’ve heard of triple bottom line, the notion that business performance should be measured by "People, Planet, and Profit"…The fact that its called "bottom line", according to McDonough, suggests that companies are doing "less bad" instead of doing more good. Companies are allowed to pollute, but they report that they pollute less. And so somehow that makes them environmentally responsible? The intent of most of these companies is just to look more responsible than the next company and thus, make more revenue. And that feels good to most shareholders and customers.
Triple top line, on the other hand, seeks business to produce positive social/environmental benefit. That’s a necessary paradigm shift that needs to take place to advance the 3 P agenda, isn’t it? You can’t seek to make more profit just by being "less environmentally harmful"… or "less socially conscious". It’s much better to start a new enterprise, with constraints in place that your primary mission is to be socially responsible.
This is unrelated but I thought it was awesome: McDonough talked about Thomas Jefferson’s gravestone. I didn’t even know you could design your own epitaph back then, but apparently Jefferson insisted that his should read: "HERE WAS BURIED THOMAS JEFFERSON. Author of the Declaration of Independence [and] of the Statute of Virginia for religious toleration & Father of the University of Virginia."
In my book, it’s okay to have a little hubris if you’ve actually done something worthwhile in your life for other people. Imagine a guy who was TWICE the POTUS but neglected to put it on his own tombstone, because he didn’t think it was worthy enough to note. In his mind, he did something far more important. He designed the declaration of independence…and He CREATED an institution for higher learning.
Hats off to you, Thomas Jefferson, design planner and social entrepreneur in disguise.
When I started thinking about Jefferson, the office of the President, and "prestige"… I thought of one of my favorite essays by Paul Graham, titled How to Do What You Love.
Here’s an excerpt:
Prestige is just fossilized inspiration. If you do anything well enough, you’ll make it prestigious. Plenty of things we now consider prestigious were anything but at first. Jazz comes to mind– though almost any established art form would do. So just do what you like, and let prestige take care of itself.
Prestige is especially dangerous to the ambitious. If you want to make ambitious people waste their time on errands, the way to do it is to bait the hook with prestige. That’s the recipe for getting people to give talks, write forewords, serve on committees, be department heads, and so on. It might be a good rule simply to avoid any prestigious task. If it didn’t suck, they wouldn’t have had to make it prestigious.
(italics my own).
Anyway, whoa, I digressed here a lot. But the point I was trying to make it Triple Top Line is a far, far better way to run an enterprise than some straw puppet CSR approach. I’m also excited that McDonough is dedicated to helping Daley make Chicago the "greenest city in the world". (Even though I think this is largely impossible)