Monday, May 21, 2007

'Nobody Has Ever Washed a Rental Car'

John Wood the high-flying Microsoft executive who left the corporate world to help children to read was working through his plan and thinking through how his library project would not be a handout. He worked on the principle of ‘cooinvestment’ in which each party would contribute whatever they had to work towards a common goal.

He said: “I always thought that the only way these aid programs would work is if the local people were prepared to also donate labor and small amounts of money. Otherwise the project is just a free gift bestowed by outsiders, and nobody will value it because they have nothing at stake.

John Wood recalled a quote by Michael Porter from Harvard Business School. He points out that in the entire history of the travel industry nobody has ever washed a rental car. If they don’t feel ownership, they won’t do any long term maintenance. That’s the way I feel about our projects,” said Wood.

Source: John Wood, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Children (New York: Collins, 2006), 84.

My review of this book can be found at Reviewing Books and Movies.

Geoff Pound

Image: Rental Car