What Business Are You Really In? AKA Who's Doreen?

What Business Are You Really In? AKA Who's Doreen?
Photo Credit: Alin Luna on Pexels

Nearly 20 years ago, well actually back in 2008, Gil Friend in World Changing : A user's guide for the 21st century, p400, referred to Theodore Levitt's classic 1975 HBR (Harvard Business Review) article "Marketing Myopia" in which he skewered industries that lost market share - and critical opportunities - because they didn't understand what business they were really in. Railroad companies identified themselves as 'rail and locomotives' rather than transportation, and stagnated in the face of the rise of the automobile and the interstate system.

This observation flashed back into my mind last week after a networking conversation with the CEO of a local hospice. When we were discussing Values, I asked that whilst the Board & the SMT (Senior Management Team) may well understand the Values of the organisation, do all the volunteers? To which the CEO commented that a lot of volunteers in their shops only come for the opportunity to meet Doreen. So in a state of Clarifying & Understanding I asked "Who's Doreen"? = they volunteer for the opportunity to meet Doreen or Agnes socially in the charity shop, rather than because of the organisation's Values.

Referring back to Gil Friend's thoughts of how might an industry reimagine itself. Take the pulp and paper industry; is it in the business of turning trees into paper products or is it in the "forest and fibers" business, managing forests for the long term and recycling paper for things we need? Paper or forests?

This line of thought may be applicable to some non-profits when considering their Values & Purpose.

Is a Hospice in the business of providing end of life care for terminally ill people, which Governments are failing to provide, or are they in the business of providing social networking opportunities for lonely people? Maybe an extreme example, but what if the organisation's Culture, Purpose Vision & Values could became the through-line of both?


Is an animal rescue shelter in the business of providing steel cages (see header photo) to just continually mop up a wicked social problem or are they in the business of providing educational solutions*, so that the wicked problem is significantly reduced?

Whilst the above book is open on my desk, I note the observation of Alex Steffen

"there's a change coming to the world of advocacy, one that is as fundamental as anything we've seen since the abolition movement gave birth to the modern civic group. That change? The move from centralised, mass market nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) to decentralized advocacy networks driven by their members". p 426.

As the vast majority of non-profits in both the animal & human sectors are not mass market organisations. Then it gives rise to huge opportunity to those, that like small for-profit businesses, who are able to adapt & change to market conditions far easier & quicker than the international organisations/corporations.

A huge opportunity to become financially sustainable attracting both the necessary investment & mission aligned volunteers, enabling those supporting factors to make constructive & collaborative inroads into solving the wicked social problem that is surely the reason they are in business.

So the Big Question you now start to ask is HOW?

The awesome Tom Peter's in his book Re-Imagine (2003), p160, tells how he takes his clients through the "Brand Promise Exercise"


2. THREE WAYS. in which we are... UNIQUE to our clients.






Well, what if you're not in the position to hire the likes of Tom Peters?

Then I have an exciting opportunity for you to take action...

Spencer B. Hodgetts © Tricres ©


* Bridging the gap between diverse perspectives and forging collaborative partnerships to drive meaningful change.

* Shaking up the status quo and crafting innovative initiatives that truly transform the pet landscape.

* Turning every conversation into an opportunity to secure buy-in, resources, and support for your vision.

It starts with building a fantastic Culture as a Foundation for Growth.

Then having the right people in the right roles doing the right things.

Spencer B. Hodgetts © Tricres ©

This is your invitation to shape the future, one transformative month at a time. Register today and:

  • Empower yourself to become a champion for animals and a leader in the pet advocacy movement.
  • Build a future where every voice resonates with power and every tail wags with hope. Ready to unlock your impact?
  • Align with fellow change makers on a shared mission and build strategic alliances.
  • Walk away with actionable blueprints for implementing proven tactics and frameworks. Register now!


1 seat has already been taken, only 5 remain available!

Reboundog ©


  • New web pages for Home & Join Us
  • Reboundog Sofa Meet-up March 14th Guest in Conversation Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton A continuation from Sept. '23 Chat about the SA/ESA/TD conundrum & Dec. '23 Where is education needed to benefit SA/ ESA/ TDs? Theme: how to build an education project* to disrupt the status quo.

Your opportunity to sponsor Reboundog Casual Conversations Newsletter

Then shared here on Reboundog News & mailed to 252 subscribers of whom 40%+ open it regularly.

Then shared on my Pet Advocacy and Therapy Professionals Network LinkedIn Group 1677 members.

Your opportunity to reach the world's leading innovators & disruptors in pet advocacy who are changing the world together.

To discuss this opportunity let's grab a virtual coffee soon to understand your needs. To choose a mutually convenient time please visit & I'll send you a link.

Please note: prospective small & medium size enterprise sponsors must have values embedded in their business that are in sync with Reboundog's of Trust, Curious & Transparent.