First I tried the international medical companies and even the U.N., but they weren’t the right fit for the product. Then it occurred to me that there’s only one organization that can get a product to any village in the world: Coca-Cola. Dean Kamen in Fortune interview.
Where do good ideas come from?
Inventor Dean Kamen wanted to bring his water purification system to the people who need it the most in the developing world.
He found that a traditional analysis of product distribution partners did not generate the solution he desired. Only when he turned the challenge on its head and looked at it differently, did the right outcome emerge.
Kamen needed an entity that already operated in the remote geographies he wanted to reach, and he wasn’t deterred that such a company didn’t neatly fit the definition of a small machine distributor.
By broadening the process by which he assessed his options – to think about capabilities instead of company description – Kamen and his team came up with an unlikely answer: soft drinks giant Coca-Cola!
“In a partnership with Coca-Cola, Kamen’s firm DEKA Research and Development will bring Slingshot to communities in need of clean water in rural parts of Latin America and Africa.”
There are no easy answers to difficult business problems. But sometimes, if you start with the end-game in mind, you might discover a clever, if not crazy, solution.
Harvey Chimoff is a hands-on marketing leader and business-wide collaborator who builds marketing capabilities in B2B/B2C organizations that drive customer success.