Before HBS I helped run digital campaigns for a labor union, the Green Bay Packers, and Lady Gaga’s non-profit at Blue State Digital. Blue State Digital made its name helping design Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 digital campaigns, and in the course of my time there I learned the full gamut of what it takes to get supporters to act on their beliefs. Just as important, I learned of the many significant barriers that prevent us from actively supporting the issues we care most about.
As deep as our beliefs may run on saving our environment or saving our schools, we often neglect to take simple and effective actions to push for significant reforms for a host of reasons. Some of these reasons are insurmountable, but many are not. With this problem in mind I quit my previous job to learn how to code full-time and focus on developing a prototype for a web-based, crowd-sourced lobbying alternative.
Here at HBS I have two years and a mountain of resources to focus on answering this question: “What does it take for us to support our beliefs?” There are centuries-old business, political, and social obstacles to creating more effective models for how we voice our political concerns. It seems the messier the problem though, the more excited people here are to solve it, and so I can’t wait to leverage my classmates’ and faculty’s knowledge to bring us closer and closer to action.
After HBS I plan on continuing to work on my startup and on this question. If I could figure out the proper incentives for getting people to act, my mission would be accomplished. For better or for worse, the human mind is a capricious organ, constantly redefining what “proper incentives” means. So from now until the foreseeable future, my work is cut out for me.
-Johnny Bowman, MBA 2015