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https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_porter_why_business_can_be_good_at_solving_soc
ial_problems
Prof. Porter teaches at Harvard Business School and I want you to introduce him to you.
Here is best known for his theory of the Five forces. It is taught in all MBA programs
including my graduate marketing classes that I teach.
You’ve done a SWOT analysis earlier in course , now meet the five forces. Please
provide your opinion of two of the concepts that Prof porter is presenting in this video.
Make comments on each of the following discussion (75-100 words)
1.
Professor Porter begins his TED Talk by addressing the plethora of problems we are presented
with in our world. These issues include but are not exclusive to “poor nutrition, access to water,
climate change, deforestation, lack of skills, insecurity, not enough food, not enough healthcare,
pollution.” Professor Porter establishes that he is “not a social problem guy” because his
profession is concerned with generating monetary profits for businesses. Once establishing this,
he questions whether social issues can be separated from business. Are the two intrinsically
linked and is the symbiotic relationship both the problem and solution?
Professor Porter notes that the solution to social problems can be attributed to the
“tremendous rise of NGOs and social organizations.” The rise in such efforts have contributed to
the “mobilization” to address the social issues discussed earlier in the TED Talk. But despite the
philanthropic steps being made, this is still considered to just be “incremental progress.”
Professor Porter discusses how this is due to an issue with an ability to scale. Regardless of “tax
revenue” and “donations” there is an ever-rising reality of the “scarcity of resources” that exist in
this world.
I completely agree with Professor Porter when he states that business and its model of
profit should be a solution to social issues. I am also a firm believer that “Business should give
me” and be held accountable for its contribution to social issues, such as climate devastation.
There is constant pressure on the individual to make responsible decisions about how we
consume and the amount of waste we produce. And although personal accountability and small
efforts are essential in bettering our plant, businesses contribute to environmental damage at a
higher and more rapid rate. What I found most enlightening about Professor Porter’s talk was
that the “conventional wisdom” that business profits from causing social problems, is not
actually too wise to believe such conventions.
I am passionate about researching efforts being made by companies who are currently
holding themselves to higher standards. I am mostly drawn to businesses with B Corp
certification and a transparent plan to cutting emissions. But, as noted in the talk, “reducing
pollution is expensive… therefore businesses make more money if they don’t have a safe
working environment.” What I am also interested (semi frustrated) by is businesses need for
immediate profit which outweighs the implementation of long-term systems that would allow the
business to shrink their footprint.
Professor Porter introduces a solution called “shared value.” Which he defines as
“addressing a social issue with a business model.” He continues, “shared value is when we can
create social value and economic value simultaneously.” This circles back to the questions
proposed in the beginning of the talk about how business could not only be the problem, but the
solution to social issues. This positive upswing of the talk certainly instilled a sense of hope
within me. I am inspired by the beginning steps of businesses shifting their mindset and business
models.
This talk reminded me of a carpet company, Interface, that uses biomimicry to make
glue-free carpets. What is also unique about these carpets is that they are a series of tiled squares,
so in the chance that one section of the carpet is ruined, you can replace one square instead of
disposing of the entire carpet. This system of tiles is called TacTiles and has helped the company
take major steps towards their “Mission Zero” goal by 2020. The company’s founder, Ray
Anderson, “shook the foundations of the petroleum-intensive carpet manufacturing industry by
declaring that interface was committed to becoming the world’ first environmentally
sustainable—and, ultimately, restorative—company” (https://www.interface.com/US/enUS/about/mission/Our-Mission).
Ultimately Professor Porter’s talk allowed me to gain a better understanding of how
business can use profit for the better of people and the planet.
2.
Businesses make profit, the end goal of every business is too somehow profit to their
maximum potential. In professor Porter’s Ted Talk, he mentions two points about
businesses and social conflicts that highly stood out to me. The first point was that
whenever social conflicts arise from businesses or in general, NGO’s are the first thing
everyone thinks of. Even as a business and an expert, Prof Porter held the same
thinking. He then mentions that this is a cycle that repeats itself. Businesses cause
social conflicts and NGO’s are seen as the ones to solve the conflict. Later on in the
video, professor Porter talks about how businesses need to stop relying on NGO’s to fix
everything and treat the root cause by preventing social conflicts themselves. If
businesses attach a greater purpose , people will be more attracted to that businesses
because they will know that what they are investing in serves a greater purpose rather
than just existing to make money. Companies should invest more in fixing social
conflicts because this is key to a longer lasting business.

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