Martin Luther King's famous speech during the Great March on Washington sparked a profound shift in the civil rights movement in the United States of America. As modern-day managers would say, "it provoked profound change in their business model."
His value proposition was significantly distinct from previous projects. When he said: "I dream of the day in which Black and White … will be able to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together", he added a new meaning and direction to the civil rights struggle in American society, allowing white abolitionists to join the movement freely. This, translated into business terms, shatters existing industry paradigms, creates new perspectives, and identifies unexplored market niches. How many managers of business projects long for a similar transformation!
Martin Luther King's value proposition provided a sense of direction to the whole movement, and generated new 'client segments' who were involved in the process: collectives of black pacifists, white abolitionists and ethnic minorities in the USA. Furthermore, it excluded 'clients' who did not accept their value proposition; namely those who advocate and employ violence. We could learn from this. Not only will we be able to better focus on unattended clients, but we will also stop serving those clients who do not fit our business model.
Rev. King’s stance proposed a set of strategic alliances to heighten efficiency in the defence of civil rights and to end the movement's isolationism. With this value proposition, he built bridges at home and abroad, shoring up the struggle for equality, and in the process, he won over new supporters in countless American families. In doing so, he also pushed the Black movement to grow and develop new capacities, such as: loving those who are different from us, shared accountability, and new mechanisms of mutual benefit, among other such ideas. Present-day business models can learn from these ideas how to develop new key competencies in organisations, creates partnerships and ad hoc policies of collaboration.
Thanks to this radically novel approach, the momentum of Rev. King's sustainable project could not be stopped, despite his assassination. May we take a page from this book in our efforts to bring to our organisations a coherent, sustainable and long-lasting forward-looking plan based on the foundation of a unique and differentiated Business Model.