The coming earthquake and the third space of decision making

Guest puppy feeder… Jason Spencer

Jason is Managing Director of PHD North in Manchester, and is nicely fostering the ‘Feeding The Puppy’ spirit there… he recently attended the ‘Science of Success’ seminar in Manchester featuring Malcolm Gladwell & Daniel Goleman, and has come away with four main thoughts inspired by what he heard there…

…’can I share them on Feeding The Puppy?’ asks Jason.  You certainly can, Mr Spencer…


At the Science of Success seminar in Manchester on Tuesday this week, Daniel Goleman and Malcolm Gladwell talked extensively about what makes some people more successful than others.

Most of what they talked about related to the success of individuals and groups of people, but plenty of it is interesting food for thought for the world of media and brands.  It was fascinating stuff from really engaging speakers.

4 big themes emerged for me where their ideas can translate into how we think about media and brands… this is the first.

1. The coming earthquake and the third space of decision making

There’s a coming earthquake for commerce and industry…  it’s called “Ecological Intelligence” says Daniel Goleman.

Did you know there are 1,959 discrete industrial steps which can be analysed in a drinking glass?  Or how many times you have to use a stainless steel water bottle until its impact on the environment is less than a plastic disposable bottle?


The new measure of “junkness” (the extent to which brands and products impact on the world around them at every step of their life cycle) is set to revolutionise the way green is marketed.  It is also set to be the third space in which decision making happens – not just price and quality but now also eco quality will help us decide which product to buy.

How?  Here are 2 developments in the US set to take the UK by storm soon.

Firstly, Walmart last month ordered its 100,000 suppliers to reveal the ecological impact of their products on their label and are set to put this next to the price on shelf.  The message is comply or die.  

Talking to the packaging team from Diageo over lunch, they said it was already happening for their brand portfolio.  Once global brands like Unilever start doing this, it won’t be long before they roll out this packaging globally forcing other local competitors to fall in line.

Secondly, take a look at which rates the eco impact of over 75,000 products in the US.  Apparently it is an iPhone app too.  It aggregates data from over 200 databases and enables you to compare products based on their eco impact.  The new aggregators?  It is not over here yet but surely it can’t be far off.

Given the data still needs to be ratified and turned into easy to digest consumer speak, we are not there yet.  But companies will need to think long and hard about whether to go into this first or wait and see how the US developments impact on market share.  

Initially it may be painful, but the ethics of weighing up responsibility to the shareholder vs. responsibility to the environment, in the current climate, is about to be brought into sharp focus.  Has it happened to you yet?


(Read Goleman’s book Ecological Intelligence for more on all this.)