October 2011
Inverting the Traditional WIIFM Principle.

Every marketing student is taught the WIIFM Principle, short for: “What’s in it for me?” We’re taught to consider what the customers want or need, then we give it to them, then we go to the bank.

I’d like to turn this principle inside out, and propose we start with: “What’s in me for it?, or the WIMFI Principle. Where “it” is a shared common good.

For Peter Drucker, the eminent social ecologist and father of modern management, the starting point was society – not the individual. Peter reminded us (yes, we’d forgotten) that society forms the ground in which individuals are rooted. Drucker got context. That’s why he focused on the word “contribution” – reminding individuals and organizations alike to consider their contribution to the common good.

When we contribute, we give. My reading of Drucker is that he encouraged us to consider our “giving” before our “getting” – or at least to consider the two alongside each other.

The Bonsai Business Model is similarly rooted in context and contribution, and thus supports the WIMFI Principle. Granted, the WIMFI Principle might be countercultural, but it is not unintelligent. Too much me-before-we pollutes the very soil in which we’re all planted.

Perhaps we need WIIFM and WIMFI to grow side-by-side together.