One need not stretch too far, nor have particularly partisan views, to accept arguments that ours is a culture marked by institutional collapse. Confidence on Wall Street and in capitalism itself slipped with the tarnishing of names AIG, Lehman and Merrill Lynch (among others) during the Great Recession. Trust in the U.S. government eroded along party lines, calling into question the integrity of the democratic process, on the path to health care reform. Faith in the Catholic Church continued to fold just last week under the weight of yet another round of scandal fueled by priests preying on the most vulnerable. On somewhat lighter fronts: there is no longer a "most trusted man in news" when every adman is a newsman, and so many newsmen an advertisement (or plagiarist). Science is more politicized than ever, the clarity of its objective truths clouded by a climate of competing interests. If our cultural institutions are not as strong as they once were, where is one to place belief?
If you want to be a 21st century company (or economy), if you want to survive and thrive during this Great Stagnation, you've got to to have the courage, foresight, and determination to step up to a higher rung on the ladder of innovation. It's time to master what I sometimes call "I-squared": the art and practice of institutional innovation.
I’m a capitalist by conviction and profession. I believe the best economic system is one that rewards entrepreneurship and risk-taking, maximizes customer choice, uses markets to allocate scarce resources and minimizes the regulatory burden on business. If there’s a better recipe for creating prosperity I haven’t seen it. So why do fewer than four out of ten consumers in the developed world believe that large corporations make a “somewhat” or “generally” positive contribution to society?
For those at the seminar who want further information, or for those who couldn’t make it, here are a synopsis, a list of key points and links to the case studies that I mentioned in my seminar at Cannes today.
I am always surprised that no one much bothers to tell the story of capitalism. No, the stories we prefer to tell our children is that capitalism is a dangerous, soulless, relentlessly exploitative exercise. Indeed, this story is so preferred as our received wisdom, that it is exceedingly rare to hear anyone recite Adam Smith’s magical insight, that good things can and do come from people pursuing their own, sometimes narrow, objectives.
Over the last few months, I've discussed in depth the tectonic shifts rocking the macro and micro economy. Let's put it all together. Here's what the 21st century demands from firms of all stripes: a paradigm shift in the nature of advantage. The past of advantage was extractive and protective. The future of advantage, on the other hand, is allocative and creative.
Have you heard this statement before? In 2010, who believes that organizations can succeed without marketing? Well, let me share who says this statement a lot – nonprofit professionals. And do you know why? If you have ever made a donation to a charity or volunteered for a nonprofit, you’ll want to hear what author and Harvard Business Review blogger Dan Pallotta has to say. I heard him speak recently and he turns this sector on its heels.
In Davos, signs of recovery for the economy — but it's not the same old world.
Flouting the efforts of lobbyists to shut down his plan for a consumer protection agency, the newly combative President Barack Obama is digging in his heels. Spokesman Robert Gibbs said last week that it’s something Obama “is not willing to give up.” Thus, we open another round in the brawl between Obama and business groups that claim the bill covering mortgage and credit-card lenders is a death sentence for small companies, expensive for consumers, and will “change the way Americans do business forever.”
Those entering the workforce now will likely make less and save more—not just in the short term but for the rest of their lives.
As if the recession pummeling the industry wasn't enough, the business is starting to feel besieged by the Beltway. There are efforts to strip the $4.7 billion direct-to-consumer-drug category of its tax deductibility; congressional concern over consumer tracking on the internet, endangering the $23.4 billion online-ad market; Food and Drug Administration scrutiny of such household names as Cheerios and Tylenol; proposed guidelines from the Federal Trade Commission seeking disclosure for paid blog posts, even tweets; and, of course, the federal government's strong hand in setting -- and sitting on -- ad budgets at Chrysler and General Motors. With a new Congress and an administration seeking funding for health care and other programs, marketing has become an unpopular and easy target ripe for regulation and shakedown to fund the federal piggy bank.
If you couldn’t make it to the Sustainable Brands conference in Monterey last month, you missed a lot of good content, networking and discussion. The big question that came out of the conference for me was, “what does capitalism look like in a dematerialized world?” In other words, is a sustainable brand an oxymoron?
The essence of capitalism, Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter warned, is "creative destruction" that undermines economic structures, then replaces them with better ones. Today we know all about destruction. We could use a happy dose of the creative element. Welcome to TED.
Steve Forbes believes "capitalism will save us." You know he speaks on behalf of a generation of businessmen who believe that there's nothing fundamentally wrong with the system; that what we're seeing right now is simply another of those cyclical periods of correction and Darwinian winnowing of the weak.