Carletta Ooton, VP & Chief Quality, Safety & Sustainable Operations Officer for Coca-Cola, spoke at the recent ASQ event and changed my mind about this company. Don’t get me wrong… I have a soft spot for Coca-Cola, but I also don’t hesitate to question what their role is in promoting bad habits through several products that arguably offer no nutritional value. I’m all about free markets, but you have to at some point ask yourself what happens when people just can’t figure out how to make the best consumer choices. Obesity and other health conditions related to several of their products are not a victimless crime and directly contribute to taxpayer burden down the road. I really did want to know what she thought about this. And, as I sat there squeamish at the thought of asking that question during the keynote, someone else sucked it up. Not too surprising is that Carletta answered the question quite well and without a note of hesitation. And, it actually made sense and tied in seamlessly with the corporate direction. They really do offer a business model worth benchmarking. What they do with marketing is magical!
I listened to Carletta talk about their 2020 vision and it was impressive. Unless she was an amazing performer, she was genuinely passionate about it as well. Everything she said focused on stakeholder value (strategic focus areas, 6Ps, etc.). And, they take everything across the supply chain, which is an absolutely amazing feat considering the size of the company. We’re talking about over 800 brands spread out to almost every area on the planet! (Sidenote: I learned that Coke is the 2nd most recognized word in the world after OK).
At the end of the day, what they’ve managed to accomplish is quite impressive and turns out to be a win-win from a profitability standpoint and from a stakeholder standpoint. By owning the beverage market, they’re diversified enough to serve all demographics. Who doesn’t need hydration? They offer choices and listen to their local markets. They innovate. They do as much as possible to reduce their impact on the planet.
Do I, or should I, blame Coca-Cola for me buying that Coke at the convenient store earlier… Not really. Should someone else tell them they aren’t allowed to sell that product… Probably not. Should they just stop providing products that create profits and jobs… Unlikely. So, it is what it is. (Simon Sinek would appreciate that one)
“Sometimes the simple things are best.”
“Protect the brand through strong quality governance and drive continuous improvement through quality excellence.”