Bottom Up Gets A Big Boost

According to Business Week, University of Michigan business professor, C.K. Prahalad, 64, has a knack for being able to change people’s perceptions of the world around them. This skill has made Prahalad an incredibly influential corporate strategist. He has built a lucrative consulting career helping such multinationals as Citibank, Philips, and Philip Morris break out of ingrained mind-sets and craft new business models.
Prahalad and colleague Gary Hamel helped spark a management revolution in the 1990s with their idea of “core competence,” which says that companies must identify and focus on their competitive strengths. Their 1994 book, Competing for the Future, is regarded as a classic. A decade later he co-wrote The Future of Competition, which argued that the traditional “company-centric” approach to product innovation is giving way to a world in which companies “co-create” products with consumers. That book gave Prahalad a reputation among designers. At the same time, he has been working to convince executives that today’s needy masses, so often dismissed as subsisting largely outside of the global economy, are actually its future. Prahalad’s 2004 work on that topic, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, has been hailed as one of the most important business books in recent years and turned Prahalad into a celebrity in the field of international development.
Now one of the management world’s most creative thinkers has an even more radical idea: He believes that the entrepreneurial ingenuity at work amid such poverty, where success depends on squeezing the most out of minimal resources to furnish quality products at rock-bottom prices, has cosmic implications for executives and consumers everywhere. Some of the most interesting companies of the future won’t emerge from Silicon Valley or other places of abundant means, he says. They will come from places many executives don’t even think about because they have been considered too marginal.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.