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August 10, 2004

News & Opinion: Q&A with C.K.

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 1:30 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

This is another Q&A we originally published in the Keen Thinker. This is with C.K. Parahald and his new book The Fortune At The Bottom Of The Pyramid. The interview is quite lengthy. We only had room for a portion of the interview in the Keen Thinker. We are going to publish the first two questions here and the rest of the interview will be beneath the fold (i.e. in the extended entry).
Q: The bottom of the pyramid has engaged your attention for five years now. One senses an evangelical undertone to the whole argument. Would that be a fair statement?
CKP: I think it is. All through my research career I have been concerned about Next Practices. There is a lot of research, which is focused on best practice. I have always been focused on the Next Practice.
Next Practice by definition has three problems: firstly it is future-oriented; secondly, no single company or institution is an exemplar of everything that you think will happen; and third, next practice is about amplifying weak signals connecting the dots, if you will. At this stage it is always a struggle to convince people. So in the early stages of this process, unless you believe passionately in what the future can be, and if you are not totally convinced, it is very hard to be convincing. So some level of evangelism is probably a prerequisite for promoting Next Practices.
Q: How does one connect the dots?
CKP: Next Practice is disciplined imagination. People do not recognize that there is imagination and discipline. So you must have some logic and some evidence. But the evidence that you have cannot totally convince you because there are gaps it is like looking at Swiss cheese. Consider Bottom of the Pyramid. It is such a counter-intuitive idea. Not so obvious upfront, but after you have put in the logical structure, and you have three or four examples, then it looks extremely logical. For example if Indian Manufacturing wants to go global they better start focusing attention on the bottom of the pyramid, because essentially the argument is if you want to go to the next round of manufacturing excellence, then maybe the poor of the world maybe the place to start.