August 25, 1997
Roberto C. Goizueta
Ours… to mold and shape as we will.
That’s what these two days are about.
This morning, Dr. Thurow has given us a fascinating look into the competitive environment and the future of the global economy. A look that is certainly thought-provoking. And a look that is, honestly, a little sobering.
The harsh reality us that the future will bring tremendous competitive pressures.
Businesspeople have been concerned with competition for thousands of years. But, as Dr. Thurow said, the pace and scope of change in business today are demonstrably greater than they have ever been before.
Change is always unsettling, and chaotic change can be demoralizing. Moreover, in today’s world, the stakes are higher than ever… for any business that fails to manage the multiple revolutions that are taking place right now: revolutions in information and technology, customers and consumers.
That is the harsh reality.
But the good news is that the future will also bring immense opportunities for us – for the Coca-Cola business system – for those of us in this room.
In an increasingly global and sophisticated age of business, who is better positioned to thrive than us… arguably, the world’s only truly global business system?
Who in the world… literally, who in the entire world… is in better position?
I think we all would agree on the answer to that question.
I don’t believe there is any business system, anywhere, that is better positioned to prosper and grow on a global level… to reach consumers in every corner of every country.
This world is full of businesses that vow to become “Number One”… but we are Number One.
This world is full of businesses that promise to become the people’s choice…But we already are the people’s choice… we already have the most popular brand in the world. In fact, we have four of the top five soft drink brands.
This world is full of businesses that want to become a global player… but we are in nearly 200 countries right now.
As I see it, that is a giant head start. I cannot think of one business that is in a better position to succeed than ours.
So as we look forward, I want to share some thoughts on who we are, and what we do – in our separate endeavors, and together as one business system – the Coca-Cola system.
We know that people engage in commerce to make money – to provide for themselves and their families.
But I believe a business… is more than just that.
Davis Packard, the late founder of the technology firm Hewlett-Packard, once put it this way. He said: “A group of people get together and exist as an institution that we call a company, so that they are able to accomplish something collectively that they could not accomplish separately.”
I believe that is true of each of our respective companies. But what’s more, I believe it is uniquely true of the Coca-Cola business system – a system that works together… for the mutual benefit of our companies, our share holders, our customers and our consumers alike… unlike any other business system in the world.
We – as individuals, and as companies in this system – have come together to accomplish something collectively that we could not separately.
We have chosen to heed what the author Michael Novak calls “The Calling of Business” – doing more together than we ever could apart.
That has been true for decades now. This system grew and prospered on Robert Woodruff’s idea that everyone connected with this Coca-Cola business should benefit. Today, that idea still works, more than ever, to the benefit of our organizations – and to the benefit of our colleagues, and our communities.
We, personally, all have been enriched by the success of Coca-Cola. So have many others in our organizations. But just as important are the external benefits that are generated by business systems such as ours.
We can be proud of this system… and proud of what it has done. In a day and time when it is fashionable to criticize and condemn business… we can and should be proud of what this 111-year old enterprise means… to employees of our companies, to suppliers, to customers, to consumers, to investors and to communities.
And we should not be shy about spreading that message.
Think of the billions and billions of dollars our system spends in salaries, equipment, marketing, operations… that spending cascades through the economies of thousands of towns in nearly 200 countries.
We know that for every job inside our companies, as many as 10 more jobs are created in the industries that supply us and the customers that sell our products.
And the profits from an enterprise with the size and scope of ours… fuel not only further investment but also charitable and communit