You Can’t Market Manure at Lunchtime: A Book Review by Bob Morris

You Can’t Market Manure at Lunchtime: And Other Lessons from the Food Industry for Creating a More Sustainable Company
Maisie Ganzler
Harvard Business Review Press (April 2024)

How to use sustainabiliy as a business driver and a market differentiator

According to Maisie Ganzler, chief strategy and brand officer at Bon Appétit Management Company, crowdsourcing produced this definition of sustainable food service: “Flavorful food that is healthy and economically viable for all, produced through practices that respec farmers, workers, and animals nourish the community and, replenish our shared national resources for future generations.”

Producing pork from animals raised using gestation crates offers as case in point. “In the pork industry, most breeding sows are confined to cages or gestation crates roughly the same size as they are, 24/7, during their entire four-month pregnancy. Thedy can’t deven turtn around. They are then placed  in a slightly larger farrowing crate to g ive birth and suckle piglets for a few weeks before being re-impregnated and put back into a gestation crate. Horrible!”

Bon Appétit Management Company “drew a line in the sand. Within five years, we would phase out pork from animals raised using g estation crates. We’d be the first food-service company totazke a stand on the treatment of hogs. Wee’d publicly call out tyhis inhumane practbice and sh ame the producers into making change.”

In You Can’t Market Manure at Lunchtime, Ganzler “distills almost thirty years spent proving that planetary and personal health can thrive alongside profit into five lessons for building a business and a brand on sustainability.” Here are the five “pillars” of success:

1. Learn how to pick your battles
2. Learn how to make sustainability your mission (literally)
3. Learn how to make meaningful change
4. Learn how to fix things when you fall apart
5. Learn how to tell your story

Ganzler devotes a separate chapter-cluster to each lesson in order to discuss its most significant dos and don’ts.

I also very much admire her brilliant use of processes and sequences to complete tasks that achieve the given objective. For example, in the Lesson Five section, “How to Tell Your Story,” she recommends and then explains fouyr4 separate but interdependent steps:

o First, get your story straight so that it has high-impact.
o Then, craft a campaign of persuasion to obtain buyin.
o Next, start talking: Recruit and enlist engagement.
o And then, use effective PR (i.e. “truth well-told”) to sustain support of stakeholders

There are few head-snapping revelations in this book. Maisie Ganzler is a pragmatist who is determined to understand what works, what doesn;’t, and WHY when establishing a sustainable organization. That saidc, she agrees with Marshall Goldsmith who, in a recent book, asserts that “what got you here won’t get you there.” Both of them agree with Charles Darwin: “it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”

I agree with all of them.

* * *

In school, college, and then graduate school, I learned more and learned it faster when I discussed material in a group with 3-5 others taking the same course. I also recorded key Q&As on 3×5 file cards (based on course material, whatever the subject) with a Q on one side and the A on the other, held together by a thick rubber band. I carried them with me and reviewed the content whenever I had a few minutes to kill.

Here are two other suggestions while reading You Can’t Market Manure at Lunchtime: First, highlight key passages. Also,  perhaps in a lined notebook kept near at hand, record your comments, questions, action steps (preferably with deadlines), page references, and lessons you have learned as well as your responses to key points posed within the narrative. Also record your responses to specific or major issues or questions addressed, especially at the conclusion of chapters.

These two simple tactics — highlighting and documenting — will facilitate –indeed expedite — frequent review of the most important material later.

Posted in

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.