On January 15, 2019, I published The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty with the late Harvard Business School professor, Clayton Christensen and former Harvard Business Review editor, Karen Dillon.
Since the book’s release, members of the Global Prosperity team have presented our ideas on market-creating innovations (MCI) in more than 30 countries, developed an MCI bootcamp, and written numerous articles on the critical role of market-creating innovations in igniting prosperity globally. We have also delivered three TED talks garnering more than two million views.
In all our writing, speaking, and travels, we have learned a lot about both the importance of market-creating innovations in spurring prosperity and the difficulties associated with implementing them. These learnings will guide our research agenda in 2023 and 2024.
This year, in addition to executing more MCI bootcamps globally, the Global Prosperity team will focus most of its resources on three initiatives designed to help us better understand how to more successfully implement market-creating innovations:
- a sequel to The Prosperity Paradox,
- a renewable energy market-creation project in Nigeria,
- a guide as to how governments can best support market creation activity.
A sequel to The Prosperity Paradox
The Prosperity Paradox introduced the concept of market-creating innovations and how this particular type of innovation can not only eradicate poverty but also trigger widespread prosperity. It was hailed by The Wall Street Journal as “a better way to fight poverty.”
Although The Prosperity Paradox goes into detail about how market-creating innovations can help nations build better institutions, mitigate corruption, and ultimately develop more sustainable infrastructure, the book does not describe the how of market creation. The sequel to The Prosperity Paradox will focus on the process of market-creation.
In the sequel, we will research the following:
- Understanding and identifying market-creating opportunities.
- Financing market-creating innovations.
- Leadership attributes necessary to succeed at market creation.
- Scaling and accelerating the adoption of market-creating innovations.
- The role of governments in supporting and regulating market-creation.
- Building a community designed to advance market-creating innovations globally
At the core of the book is helping the reader understand how best to create new markets that make products simple and affordable so many more people can afford them.
What we have learned about development, prosperity, and progress is that it is the twin task of discovery and distribution of innovations that helps move societies forward. To discover without distribution limits progress as only a select few in society will have access to what is discovered. And to distribute without continuous discovery results in stagnation as the innovation process necessarily depends on continuous discovery.
The dynamic between discovery and distribution is what makes innovation the strongest tool for progress. The sequel to The Prosperity Paradox will teach us how to do both better.
A renewable energy market creation project in Nigeria
As we learn more about the process of market creation, we will apply it to a renewable energy research project in Nigeria. As my colleague, Sandy Sanchez, writes in this thought provoking piece, “Nigeria has the largest energy deficit in the world, and despite the considerable amount of money invested in the sector in the last two decades, only slight improvement has been recorded.” Our research will shed some light on how to accelerate the adoption of solar energy across Nigeria.
We will apply the principles of market creation to this thorny problem. Our hope is to provide a pragmatic solution, anchored in the power of working markets, to Nigeria’s lack of power problem.
Governments and market creation
Finally, we have plans to work with a couple of governments on how they can best create an environment supportive of market-creating innovations.
In The Prosperity Paradox, we wrote that innovators can ignite the fire, but governments must fan the flame. We have learned that efforts of innovators can be greatly accelerated by good government policies focused on promoting progress. But considering the complexity of governance, the uncertainty of many innovations, and the overall resource scarcity globally, the process by which governments can support market creation is not well understood. We seek to better understand this topic.
We are hopeful that the work we do in 2023 will continue to help the thousands of people working diligently to create new innovations designed to make products and services more affordable for many. Thank you for your support and look out for updates.