Sustainable Business: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

I just clicked ‘checkout’ for a few pounds of Dean’s Beans. Haven’t tried them before, but wanted to after hearing Dean Cycon, CEO of Dean’s Beans and author of Javatrekker: Dispatches From the World of Fair Trade Coffee, speak tonight at Indiana University. “I don’t believe social justice is a formula, I believe it is a process.” Passionate and positive, he shared his ideas on how socially responsible business practice and respect for quality of life can help change the world. Sustainable business is all the rage, but efforts at many companies seem to get holed up in the marketing department or as purely charitable exercises. I asked Dean if he thought large organizations could change over to the sustainable thinking his company emulates: “For a pre-existing large scale organization it’s hard because people are already in there looking for profit. […] However, when a corporation starts out and says these are … Continue reading

A Reminder Of Key Principles | Inside Drucker’s Brain

I’ve read a lot of Peter F. Drucker over the years, so it’s nice to find a great distillation of his ideas in one place.  Just finished Inside Drucker’s Brain by Jeffrey A. Krames and it is full of gems to remind us of Drucker’s no nonsense style. For business wonks who have never read Drucker directly, you will find the concepts he developed very familiar. For those of us who have – it is a great, short summary of his evergreen concepts. The management concepts he talks about can be eye-opening for you no matter where you live in an organization. Life and Death Decisions — For Drucker, the most important Life and Death decisions are people decisions. Who to promote, who to fire/demote, and each manager’s scope of responsibility. After people decisions came the priority decisions on resource allocation. Executive management likes to think that they control the really … Continue reading

What Would Google Do by Jeff Jarvis

‘They lost their destinies because they wanted to save their pasts.”  What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis Agreeing with what Jeff Jarvis says is not the point of What Would Google Do?.  Neither is disagreeing.  The book is a great discussion starter for your team.  It is a shot against sacred cows. It is a call to rethink assumptions. The business models discussed by Jarvis may or may not work for your company or industry – They are after all a description of what worked last time. And even though much of the book focuses on the impact of digitized products, it is relevant to your warehouse and manufacturing plant.  You can get a taste of what Jeff has to say on his blog,, where he is regularly publishing portions of his book. —-

Will Your Customers Do Absolutely Anything To Consume Your Product?

From the ‘ideas from strange places’ department. Reading about poisonous beans in Beans: A History by ken Albala and have to say, I’m amazed at what lengths we will go through to consume something we really need or want.  In other words, want it bad enough, and some human will figure out a combination of soaking, crushing, boiling, and washing until it is ready enough to eat.  Same goes true with new or unique products.  Sometimes the need for something new is so attractive that consumers will put up with almost anything to take part. Sometimes as marketers all we can do is outline the correct soak, crush and boil procedure so that customers get what they want. However, as a market matures your customers become less willing to accept such flaws.  Enter the lesson of the humble bean. Seems that several types of toxic beans also happen to be the … Continue reading

The Bean Scale

I’ve been reading Beans: A History by Ken Albala. Not really a book one would expect to gain marketing insights from, but, read on. In times of great disparity between the haves and have-nots (most of history) – as soon as you had enough cash to trade your diet of beans for meat – you switched and didn’t look back. Until of course eating beans meant your were connecting with your roots.   The biggest disparity appears to occur right at the line of ‘almost could’ vs. ‘barely can’ afford meat.  If you had just moved up a rung, then it seemed important not to be confused with the poor folks lower down the ladder according to Albala.  Become super rich and you could eat what you want – sometimes mixing inexpensive beans with expensive imported ingredients to show you connected…but no peasant ever served this! Albala writes that the … Continue reading