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THE POINT IS...


In a world full of multiple-choice questions, it is time for us to think more in fill-in-the-blanks style !

Is it a bug or a feature?

My son wanted me to help him choose a drink at the counter one day. And while I did it that day, it made me think - Why does it have to be that way? How did we get to a point where we always think we want to choose from what is available? Why cannot it be something else that isn't there? 

Part of the problem lies in how we teach and whether we do more multiple-choice questions or more fill in blanks. Multiple choice style makes you more analytical. Whereas fill in the blank style can make you more insightful and creative. Of course, we want both in balance.

Multiple choice style makes you more analytical. Whereas fill in the blank style can make you more insightful and creative.

But then the same thought process creeps into our work and daily life. We often get so engrossed in our ideas, cool things and innovations. So much so that we sometimes seem to miss the bigger picture. At other times, we simply ignore it. 

Our ego makes us think that we are at the top of the ecosystem rather than part of it. As a result, we tend to think more in either-or style instead of being more inclusive. Particularly when it comes to bringing new products and ideas to life, we ought to think better.

Our ego makes us think that we are at the top of the ecosystem rather than part of it. 

Harvard's impact weighted accounts (IWA) initiative is one such thing that can help you think better. It applies whether you are designing a new product, working on a new project, or making new stuff.

Let's take the example of Coca Cola and Pepsi. The perennial looking battle between two brands has divided customers for quite some time. You will find people arguing about how one tastes better than another or how one's marketing campaign is cleverer than the other. People dig at each other with creative ideas and various arguments to say why one is better than the other.

But instead of doing any taste test or cleverness assessment to pick one, why not think differently? Let me explain it with some data from a Harvard study that uses IWA as the basis.

Coca Cola's net revenue during 2018 was approximately $31.8 billion. But to generate this revenue, its total environmental impact cost was about $3.7 billion. We are talking about many things such as plastic waste produced, drinkable water consumed, drinkable water wasted, etc. And that means, if they were to pay for all the environmental costs, according to Harvard, their real profits would be about -11.6%.

What about Pepsi? Pepsi's net revenue during 2018 was about$ 64.7 billion, twice as much of the Coca Cola. Pepsi's environmental impact cost was about $1.8 billion to generate this revenue. If Pepsi pays for all the environmental costs, their profits will decrease to about -3%. And remember, we are talking about a like to like comparison here.

The bottom line is that one is four times dirtier than the other!

Do you think this will put a stop to meaningless debates about whose marketing is better or which drink tastes better? 

I doubt it. Because we often fall prey to brand marketing tactics, and we miss the bigger picture. Sometimes the choice isn't one or the other but none of the above.

In a world full of multiple-choice questions, it is time for us to think more in fill-in-the-blanks style.

Many companies and brands think that environmental impact can be avoided with corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, charity donations, or sponsoring a few campaigns. So they treat it like a feature and tout their so-called good work as a part of their extracurricular work from business as usual.

But tell me - environmental impact, is it a bug or a feature?

And yes, try not to think of an answer to this question from a multiple-choice point of view. Think of it as if was a fill-in-the-blank.

In a world full of multiple-choice questions, it is time for us to think more in fill-in-the-blanks style.

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