As the pandemic continues into its third year, it has never been more important for governments, nonprofit organizations, and companies around the world to create pathways to prosperity in what is being dubbed as a “new normal” for the world’s citizens. It’s also never been more important to harness the critical insights learned over the last two years to better ensure that these pathways to prosperity are sustainable. 

At the Christensen Institute, the global prosperity team researches how businesses, governments, and nonprofits worldwide, especially in growth markets and under-resourced areas, can leverage innovation to create prosperity in their communities. As difficult as these past two years have been, our theories and frameworks provide a helpful lens to assess the challenges we’ll face in 2022. 

Here are 3 ways businesses, governments, and nonprofits can work together to make 2022 more prosperous. 

  1. Understand the push vs. pull strategies in economic development

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, more than half a billion people have been pushed into poverty. 

To help determine long-term solutions, it’s helpful to tap into the power of the pull strategy in economic development, a concept outlined in the book, The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty.

The pull mechanism occurs when an innovation or a process pulls in the solutions, such as the infrastructure, resources, and human capital that innovators need to create new markets. And because these solutions are tied to a market that addresses a previously unmet need, they’re more sustainable. Simply put, the pull mechanism happens with the development of market-creating innovations, often by entrepreneurs.

In contrast, the push strategy is when well-intentioned governments and organizations push potentially useful resources into communities. Even though pushing resources may alleviate some suffering in these communities for a while, it’s an inherently unsustainable approach that relies on further investments from wealthy nations and development organizations.

In my most recent blog, I laid out the pull strategy as an approach for the United Nations World Food Programmes to effectively and sustainably address the food crisis. As governments and organizations continue to build strategies for 2022 and beyond, we have a better chance to weather the storm of this ongoing pandemic and create sustainable growth by anchoring on pull strategies.

  1. Apply the “Jobs” Theory to your work 

The theory of Jobs to Be Done is a framework for better understanding customer behavior. While conventional marketing focuses on market demographics or product attributes, Jobs Theory goes beyond superficial categories to expose the functional, social, and emotional dimensions that explain why customers make the choices they do. By understanding the power of Jobs Theory, governments, businesses, and nonprofits can begin providing solutions and pathways to prosperity that people want to consume because these solutions more accurately address the struggles people encounter.

For example, governments in wealthy countries such as the US are still struggling to vaccinate and boost millions of people. One of the major challenges has been a lack of understanding why certain individuals won’t “consume” the vaccine. Jobs Theory could help us understand the social and emotional dimensions that either deter or persuade individuals from consuming the vaccines. By framing consumption of the vaccine in the context of what people directly struggle with, leaders will be more successful at combating this seemingly never-ending virus.

  1. Investing in market-creating innovation initiatives 

Market-creating innovations transform complex and expensive products into simple and affordable ones, so that a new population of people can access them. These innovations, as the name implies, create new markets because they target nonconsumers who previously did not consume products they would otherwise want, due to barriers such as time, skill, and money. The new markets create jobs, improve infrastructure, bolster institutions, and, in the process, generate profits for the innovators who built them. This is a win-win scenario for innovators and the communities and countries that they serve.

Most importantly, new markets serve as a catalyst and foundation for lasting economic growth and result in new jobs and new sources of tax revenue to create new institutions and infrastructures necessary to develop communities. By investing in market-creating innovation initiatives like the MCI Bootcamps, philanthropists and development organizations can accelerate development in many growth economies.

There is still much work to be done to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and business as usual will not suffice. These three insights can guide the world to a better 2022. 


  • Jacob Fohtung
    Jacob Fohtung