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"All Businesses Considered" (UPDATED 11/17)

A news program on NPR combining analysis, commentary, interview & special features on businesses innovating for real world impact

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News Brief: NPR’s debut series of All Businesses Considered (ABC) kicks off Fowler Center for Sustainable Value’s Business Innovation Ecosystem

NPR and the Fowler Center for Sustainable Value join forces to spotlight innovative businesses that adopt “doing good” as a core business credo. NPR today announced the launch of a new flagship program--All Businesses Considered (ABC) -- a 30 min. program that will air 5 days a week and will showcase businesses that are creating both economic and social value around the world. The Fowler Center for Sustainable Value is a key sponsor of ABC. Stay tuned...

Vision
The creation of a self perpetuating ecosystem of Sustainable Businesses that create both economic and social value (akin to the innovation ecosystem of Silicon Valley). This ecosystem will bring together business managers who wish to make meaningful impact, leading academics, social changers, socially minded businesses and an informed, engaged, passionate student body eager to make a difference. The ecosystem will attract talent from around the world and be an engine for creating and inspiring businesses that take a systems approach to creating both money and meaning. The Fowler Center for Sustainable Value will serve as a central hub (akin to the role played by Stanford University in the bay area), that:
1. provides world class training on leading edge, value based, innovative business practices
2. serves as a bridge between theory and practice by training next-gen business practitioners (i.e. current students) and matching them to sustainable businesses globally
3. takes an active role in opening channels of communication between the various stakeholders/participants of the ecosystem: i.e., business managers, students, professors, firms and the broader community of citizens.

All Businesses Considered serves as a catalyst. It is the medium for creating and sharing stories -- stories about people coming together in firms to create value for shareholders, employees, the environment & consumers. (see ecosystem graph above)

Program Description

Launching a new program “All Businesses Considered” (ABC) modeled after NPRs flagship show –“All Things Considered” (ATC). Think “All Things Considered” meets American Public Medias’ “Marketplace.” A 30 min. show broadcast daily. Each show will feature a for-profit business that is innovating for world benefit. Each feature will have the thoughtful commentary and in-depth behind-the scenes coverage that are the hallmark of ATC. In addition, each feature will have the punchy, engaging style of Marketplace, a 3-5 minute segment on relevant news/trends on the business sector being featured and story-relevant theme music.

Broader Vision
The Sustainable Business Ecosystem would deliver the following benefits to key stakeholders (the $$ marked items are potential revenue generation channels that can be used to support “All Businesses Considered” programming) :

Campus Students
- Opportunity to participate in student challenges and competitions for innovative “world benefit” business concepts
- Attending job fairs & networking events with value based firms
- Opportunities for internships and placements
- Learning vi case studies on select firms with the chance to attend guest lectures by leading business professionals

Online Students
- Access to open content and sustainable business practices courses listed on Courseware: available to a global audience

Businesses
- Positive publicity & marketing--ABC
- Train the trainers workshop series geared to business managers ($$)
- Access to a pool of talented trained highly motivated potential employees
- Internship applicants
- Showcasing businesses in case studies
- Guest lectures/mentorship opportunities

Professors
- Being at the forefront of imbuing business with meaning once again
- Generating scholarship and research in a rapidly emerging area that crosses multiple disciplines
- Dynamic relevant courses
- Opportunity to create real impact on students

General Public
- Public lectures with leading managers
- Events on campus

In addition, the businesses highlighted on ABC can also be nominated by the audience for an annual “awards” that is given by the Fowler Center.


How does your concept celebrate, identify or inspire for-profit businesses that act as agents of world benefit?

Both ATC & Marketplace are highly recognized, well-respected news sources—All Businesses Considered combines the best of both. The whole purpose of the show is to identify & showcase for profit businesses that act as agents of world benefit. Being featured on the show offers: amazing publicity for a business; a source of pride and morale boost for the employees of the firm; a great way to attract and retain talent of employees interested in making an impact; an inspiration to other firms; a source of uplifting and concrete news in a mainstream media inundated with negative stories; a great way for listeners to spend 30 min. of commute time. Also, Marketplace is currently broadcast over 500 radio stations and has an audience of 9M weekly listeners. And according to its website, “All Things Considered is the most listened-to, afternoon drive-time, news radio program in the country.” All Business Considered has access to an in-built audience that is already familiar with the show concept. In addition, the All Businesses Considered program is the communication component of creating a broader ecosystem of sustainable businesses--an ecosystem modeled after the Silicon Valley ecosystem. By definition, this would stand out as a global hub for value based for profit firms.

How will your concept help us create or leverage stories of world benefit that are sticky and shareable?

Target Audience--the show will be targeted at the following segments: 1. Trail blazers (positive publicity value): these are innovative Businesses & Business Managers who are taking a holistic and integrated approach to creating sustainable value. The value to them is to be recognized for the work they are doing (positive PR) and learn from peers in the global community 2. On-the-fence firms (inspirational value): these are managers and firms who want to make meaningful impact by aligning their business with values and have been hesitant...the value here is to offer inspiration and encouragement--show that money and meaning can be generated together (encouragement) 3. Aspirational students and professors: this are current or future members of the academic & business community who wish to make meaningful impact. The value here is to encourage a mindset of “triple bottom line” (people, planet & profit) and stimulate creation of both supply (of innovative sustainable business education) and demand (make such programs and career choices appealing for students and professionals) 4. Citizens: these are members of the general public who tune in and listen to the show or have heard about it. The value here is to share positive stories of business as an agent of positive change; the opportunity is to connect people emotionally and intellectually to sustainable firms; to highlight the positive value generation side of businesses; to empower people with informed, unbiased knowledge and enable them to make informed choices. The value is to invite people to share their own stories and to support firms that create both economic and social value. Call to Action for listeners - Audience members can vote by SMS for or against the business being featured. Scores can be tallied and the company with the most votes can be announced every month “company of the month” - Audience can be invited to share stories/their experience of sustainable businesses that they think should be highlighted. This has at least 2 advantages: i) a content generation source for ABC and ii) increasing ‘stickiness’ of ABC by weaving personal, audience based-stories and inviting people to actively contribute their experiences. Audience can email stories to ABC and one form suggested by the audience could be featured in one of the 30 min. segments weekly. - Expand the reach of the program by actively spreading the word on social media (e.g. Facebook, twitter, linkedin, etc.)

What will it take to scale your concept so that its reach is global and widespread?

Following steps will help extend program reach: - Make the content relevant to a global audience by featuring for-profit companies from around the world; can provide extended weekend programming of 50-60 min. - Syndicating the show in multiple languages & allowing distribution via internet radio (thanks to Carlos Bustamante for the internet radio suggestion!) - Create a content rich-interactive website and downloadable pod cast, similar to ATC & Marketplace. The website will be interactive and invite audience to nominate businesses in their own communities. Will also feature mini-video clips of featured stories with detailed analysis, click through features, and “Ways to get involved section” - Licensing the content under a Creative Commons license to enable free online viewing and distribution - Utilizing social media (e.g. twitter: retweet “Company of the Day”) - Partnerships with top line print publications (e.g Forbes, Inc., Fast Company, Wall Street Journal, etc.), online publications like Huffington post, docu-features on PBS, etc. - Featuring ABC program segments on relevant websites: Fowler Center for Sustainability, the websites of the businesses showcased, etc.

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Photo of Gaia Montelatici
Team

This is very well thought and articulated :) It has high potentials to be highly impact-ful especially when culture appropriate mediums are used in different contexts. And it's great to see the intertwining of TEDx, TV and radio...there were participation is already a developed tool embedded in learning and in doing (sustainable) business. I think that Eastern Europe would greatly benefit from this idea and that catalyzing channels to be used and scaled would include more NGOs, advocacy groups, youth and students' organizations reaching out to segmented audiences in virtual networks, universities, business and membership-based organizations...:)

Photo of Mike Hatrick
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I like this idea, but I think in order to avoid it getting buried in the TV scheduling it would be great to get a major celebrity presenter associated with it.

I recall seeing a series about environmentally friendly buildings on an obscure TC channel that I only watched because Brad Pitt was presenting/narrating it. Note that it wasn't because I am a big Brad fan but the fact that somebody like him was associated with it made me curious!

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DeletedUser

Submitting expanded & revised concept in light of feedback from the community and additional brainstorming:)

Photo of Ashley Jablow
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I'm loving the refinements you've made Shivani! Great work!

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DeletedUser

Maybe this NPR idea could be a perfect marriage of web or social media and standard programming. The cycles on the web or social media could show rapid cycling; for example, it could have a company featured weekly. The standard programming cycle might be once every six months to highlight emerging examples of the best. Ultimately it might be that there is a global gathering every three years or so whcih would feature many from different parts of the world but recognize one as "best of the best."

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DeletedUser

Roger, agreed on several points. The content of the show, with te comments can be integrated with social media to maximize reach and complete the ecosystem. The content could be localized by country partners to the specific local needs... Think global, act local.

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DeletedUser

This is a great idea that could be expanded to other nations via internet radio.

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DeletedUser

Great point NPR is now online and on podcast syndication and consolidation sites.

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DeletedUser

Realizing that this will initially only reach a smaller percentage of TV viewers, the net gain in numbers is tremendous. A good step one to expose fresh thinking to the business audience. Yes!

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DeletedUser

I like the idea of NPR, a positive, well-respected organization, backing this. It would provide the content in a rich, fair way to a built-in audience. Two thumbs up.

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DeletedUser

This idea is great because its not too far-fetched. NPR is an organization that would embrace this idea because it falls in-line with their vision, "NPR innovates and leads; we discover and develop new talent and ideas."


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DeletedUser

Thank you. At least this gives an idea of the territory. I wonder what would happen to costs if we tried doing this in the ten most widely used languages in the world.

Photo of Meena Kadri
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Perhaps there might be learnings from TED's Translation Project: http://www.ted.com/pages/287

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DeletedUser

Meena,

Great idea! I really like what they do...40 languages using locals folks to make the translations. Maybe they could become collaborators with us.

Roger

Photo of Meena Kadri
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Nice thought! And I think there's a lot that can be learnt from TED – their clarity of communications, global reach via their light-weight TEDx model plus their guidelines to speakers about articulating to folks outside of their specialist areas. Together, these and other strides make it seem like an admirably inclusive platform – even for those who cannot afford the fees to attend it's more exclusive events.

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DeletedUser

Meena, great points. The inclusive aspect of both the Tedx and public radio platform is a critical strength. News & stories about companies working for public benefit needs to be disseminated over a wide audience so that it can inspire more companies and invite a critical mass to engage. Love the idea of incorporating learning’s from the Tedx model. For e.g., TEDx awards prize money to a winner every year—perhaps there could be a ‘public benefits’ award awarded to a publicly voted on ‘winner’ company to recognize their contributions. Another idea to increase distribution is to collaborate with Creative Commons…getting a creative commons license to offer free online viewing of the content.

Photo of Meena Kadri
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Great thoughts on CC licensing. I wonder what other folks' thoughts are regarding whether this initiative would best be as a stand-alone one (like TED) or piggy-backing on NPR? For me NPR seems very US-centric and I don't know enough about it's audience to appreciate whether it attracts more of some kinds of people and not others. Looking forward to seeing this concept evolve with collaborative input. (Note you can make edits to your idea at any time by hitting the Update Entry button up there on the right. Plus can give any credit you feel is due, as your idea grows, via the Virtual Teams field)

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DeletedUser

Meena: great point about NPR being very US - centric. I think this is a great idea, but would need to be expanded to a global scale.

Ultimately, I see this idea as one element of a communications strategy connected to the larger Prize / Award mechanism.

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DeletedUser

When reading through the proposal, I too saw the relevance to TED.com in a way to showcase a company's work in field of innovation for world benefit. I agree with Beau, that the award for the company wouldn't come from any monetary incentive, but rather the strength added to the social profile of the company.

I love NPR, by the way! The proposal caught my eye immediately based on the logo.

Photo of OpenIDEO
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Shivani, congrats on making the Business Impact Challenge Top 20 shortlist! We were excited about your clever take on a very popular news format, with a business for world benefit spin.

In this next phase, we encourage you to think about who the target audience is for this program: is it business professionals? Every day listeners? Someone else? And what would the call to action be for listeners – how would they be asked to get involved, if at all, after listening to these stories? For more tips on how to iterate and prototype your idea during the Refinement phase, read here http://bit.ly/bizimpact-refinetips and check this Lowdown: http://bit.ly/oi_refine

Photo of Priyanka Kodikal
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Great idea Shivani! Simple yet effective :)

Photo of Meena Kadri
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Shivani – you can incorporate any feedback & new thoughts that you're keen on into your actual concept post to acknowledge your idea is evolving through these collaborative conversations. Plus you can add folks who are helping build your idea through our Virtual Teams feature. Make updates to your entry at any time using the Update Entry button up there on the right. Looking forward to seeing where things go!

Photo of OpenIDEO
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Congrats on this post being today's onsite Featured Concept!

Photo of Ashley Jablow
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I'm a big fan of this storytelling mashup Shivani – and thanks for building on my concept! :)

Photo of DeletedUser
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DeletedUser

Hi Ashley--the idea was triggered by your 'Business heroes among us/People Magazine' concept in the first place so thanks!

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DeletedUser

This is an intriguing idea. What do you think the annual costs are or would be?

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DeletedUser

Hi Roger,
According to their financial statement, NPR’s annual program service expense in 2011 was about $140M. This includes production, distribution, engineering etc. Also, approx three quarters of their annual expenses goes toward producing & presenting news, technical support & distribution of programs to stations and digital media services. I could not get specific data on how much it would cost to produce a 30-min high program on NPR but I assume this would be a marginal cost as the support & technical infrastructure already exists. There might be ways to drive down the costs though: e.g. focus on producing a stripped down podcast only version etc. Interesting to note though that 80% of NPRs program fees and dues revenue comes form premier newmagazines like All Things Considered & Weekend Edition. The aim would be that ABC would be in a similar category.