Lucky Iron Fish
By: Ashley Snook
Table of Contents
Human Relations Theory
The B-certified organization that I chose is Lucky Iron Fish Enterprise which is located in Guelph, Ontario Canada. The company distributes iron fish that are designed to solve iron deficiency and anemia for the two billion people who are affected worldwide.
The human relations model is comprised of McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and theories from Peters and Waterman. These factors focus on the organizational structure of the company as it relates to the executives, the staff, and the customers. The executives provide meaningful jobs for the staff which gives them high levels of job satisfaction. Together, they are able to provide a product that satisfies the thousands of customers they have already reached.
Communication in this company flows smoothly. They implement open communication, encourage participation, and have high levels of trust among employees. Each of their departments are interconnected through teamwork.
Their intercultural relations, although successful, require a significant amount of time. They need to emphasize to the high context cultures that they are willing to understand their culture and possibly adopt some aspects of it. Additionally, they face barriers such as language dissimilarity and lack of physical store locations.
Ethics remains a top priority for this organization. They have high ethical standards that are integrated into their operations. They make decisions that do the most good for the most people, they do not take into consideration financial or political influence, and they strive to protect the environment through their sustainability measures.
Every employee is dedicated to improving the lives of those who suffer from iron deficiency
and anemia. As their organization grows, they continue to impact thousands of lives around the world. They are on a mission to put “a fish in every pot” (Lucky Iron Fish).
Lucky Iron Fish, located in Guelph Canada, is a company that is dedicated to ending worldwide iron deficiency and anemia. They do this by providing families with iron fish that release iron when heated in food or water. They sell this product in developed countries in order to support their business model of buy one give one. Each time an iron fish is purchased, one is donated to a family in a developing country. They designed their product to resemble the kantrop fish of Cambodia; in their culture this fish is a symbol of luck. Another focus of theirs is to remain sustainable, scalable, and impactful (Lucky Iron Fish). Each of their products is made from recycled material and their packaging is biodegradable. Their organization has a horizontal structure which allows their executives and staff to work closely without a large power gap. This allows for optimal productivity and increased innovation. Additionally, this supports their practice of open communication and provides a work environment built on teamwork. Shown below is an organization chart for Lucky Iron Fish.
Gavin Armstrong Kate Mercer Mark Halpren Melissa Saunders Ashley Leone
Founder & CEO VP Marketing Chief Financial Officer Logistics Specialist Dietician
Board of Directors
Gordon Peters Chris Charles Alex Baille Steve Daupi
Human Relations Theory
McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y
McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y are perspectives in which managers look at their employees. Under Theory X, managers would claim that employees work solely for financial gain whereas Theory Y would assume that employees are motivated by additional factors such as job satisfaction (Zaremba 49-50). In the case of Lucky Iron Fish, Theory X would imply that their employees participate in the operations with their sight focused only on making profits, however; I do not believe that Theory X is the appropriate theory to use for the analysis of this case. From the analysis of their operations, it is clear that the employees are more in line with Theory Y. The first reason for this is that the employees strive to improve the lives of those who suffer from medical conditions such as anemia. The loans totaling $860,000 that they received from Grand Canyon Challenges went directly to the production of iron fish rather than investments or salaries (Lucky little fish). This shows that they care about the well-being of society rather than just possible financial gain. Secondly, each employee in the organization holds their own position in which they are continuously looking for ways to innovate. They each have a different responsibility in which they dedicate their time and effort. This shows that factors such as responsibility and job satisfaction are also key factors that play a role in their work ethic. Lucky Iron Fish employees have a proven record of innovation that has made a positive impact on communities in need. Their mission of ending iron deficiency and anemia while running a sustainable corporation, shows that these employees are highly compatible with Theory Y.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theorizes that people are motivated by five factors. The first level need that pertains to Lucky Iron Fish is physiological. It is the basic need of every human to have food, shelter, and other necessities. Lucky Iron Fish is a for-profit company that operates through donations and loans from investors (Lucky Iron Fish). They are able to make each fish for a low cost of only five dollars, meaning that they make a profit of twenty dollars for each fish that is sold (Lucky little fish). Due to their income being relatively high compared to their costs, the company is able to provide their staff with salaries that allow them to satisfy their physiological needs. Affiliation, the third level in Maslow’s hierarchy, suggests that people desire to be a part of a unit or organization and can be motivated by social networks and connections (Zaremba 52). Due to Lucky Iron Fish’ close knit form, the staff is enabled to feel a sense of belonging within the organization. The marketing staff uses social networks as a way for the employees to interact with each other as well as their customers. Lastly, employees of this company have the need of self-esteem. This company has gained recognition around the world for the positive impact they are making on society. They recently received the BIG Innovation Award from Business Intelligence Group to honor their efforts in leading corporate social responsibility (Lucky Iron Fish Wins). It is this form of recognition and respect that fulfils a person’s need of acknowledgement and self-esteem.
Peters and Waterman
Lucky Iron Fish’ bias for action is that they are dedicated to solving iron deficiency and anemia worldwide. Beginning in Cambodia, Lucky Iron Fish has extended their reach to many countries including India, Guatemala, Peru, and Mozambique (Lucky Iron Fish). The employees research communities who suffer from these medical illnesses and immediately strategize a way to distribute the fish. They take further action by partnering with non-profits who can help with the distribution and they even monitor iron increases in order to ensure their plan was effective. Peters and Waterman’s close relations to the customer applies to Lucky Iron Fish because their employees spend time among the communities they are trying to help. They make it a priority to converse with locals in the communities and understand the health issues that many face. Their company video shows the CEO Gavin Armstrong personally giving the fish to families in need. The organization of Lucky Iron Fish is also compatible with Peters and Waterman’s simple form and lean staff. This organization has under fifty employees who each specialize in their own area of expertise. Each employee is responsible for contributing to the success of the organization’s initiative; the staff includes the founder, a dietician, logistics specialist, partnership manager, chief financial officer, and some support staff (Lucky Iron Fish). By keeping a lean staff and simple system, they are able to ensure that their focus remains on their mission rather than internal affairs.
Time and Distance
Guffey’s time and distance theory plays a major role in the overall efficiency of operations. It can also affect the company’s reputation as it can show the public that every aspect of their supply chain is intended to be aligned with their mission and values. In the case of Lucky Iron Fish, this theory can relate to their shipping and distribution of their product. Many customers suffer from the effects of iron deficiency which is why Lucky Iron Fish strives to make this product easily accessible with minimized processing and shipping times. Once a fish is ordered, it takes up to three days to process the order and prepare the product to leave the warehouse (Lucky Iron Fish). Lucky Iron Fish makes their product accessible to over sixty countries around the world; for the countries that do not have accessible shipping, the company will ensure you receive your product by courier services (Lucky Iron Fish). Depending on the region the order was placed, the product may arrive in as early as three to five business days.
Zaremba’s communication culture is described as a set of patterns or norms that are shared by members of an organization (Zaremba 157). This theory as it relates to Lucky Iron Fish can be viewed as how their company promotes open communication, encourages participation, and has a high level of trust. First, their open communication ensures that information reaches all members of the organization so that everyone can be working towards the same goals. This helps the organization prevent unneeded conflict and increase productivity. Secondly, Lucky Iron Fish encourages its employees to actively participate in creating innovative projects. This lowers the gap of power between management and employees which can improve job satisfaction and employee morale. This leads to our example of trust. The executives of Lucky Iron Fish place high trust in the employees of the company. Each employee is entrusted to administer their own operations and assignments. Furthermore, the company’s use of horizontal management allows each employee to participate in the decision-making process and feel comfortable sharing ideas as well as providing structural criticism.
Zaremba’s teamwork theory, in relations to Lucky Iron Fish, can be viewed as the role of each employee and how their role contributes to the overall mission of ending iron deficiency and anemia. The CEO, Gavin Armstrong is responsible for ensuring the success and sustainability of the company while implementing plans that are aligned with their mission. The staff, consisting of vice president marketing, chief financial officer, dietician, partnerships manager, and logistics specialist, is responsible for completing the day to day operations that allow the company to continue to grow (Lucky Iron Fish). The board of directors are responsible for supervising and evaluating the CEO, establishing and supporting management policies, and approving major operations. Working as a team allows Lucky Iron Fish to operate in an innovative and sustainable way that results in increased health and economic benefits for communities in need.
High/Low Context Culture
Context, referring to environment and ambience, is one of the most important cultural dimensions according to Guffey (16). Low context cultures communicate clear and articulate messages whereas high context cultures may not take words for their actual meaning (Guffey 16). Lucky Iron Fish is a Canadian enterprise that targets mostly high context cultures. This is due to iron deficiency and anemia being more prevalent in developing countries such as Cambodia, Guatemala, and Mozambique. These countries hold their traditions close to them and value long term relationships. As an attempt to build relations with Cambodia, Lucky Iron Fish named their product after the kantrop fish which the Cambodians idolize as a symbol of good luck (Lucky Iron Fish). This shows that Lucky Iron Fish, although located in a low context culture, can relate to the Cambodians and even adopt aspects of their culture. As a second attempt to target these high context cultures, Lucky Iron Fish creates diverse recipes that appeal to each of the targeted communities. Lucky Iron Fish wants embrace each of these cultures. Lastly, Lucky Iron Fish targets a small amount of low context cultures including the United States. They target these cultures directly as they are straightforward with their prices and policies.
Companies often face barriers whether it be in the form of competition, location, or language dissimilarity. One barrier that Lucky Iron Fish may face is competition from traditional iron supplements that are endorsed by doctors, pharmacies, and dieticians. Many people have already found a product that works well for them while others simply choose traditional pills because they have been approved by the Federal Drug Administration. Others may feel more comfortable using a product that has been around for decades. Due to these factors, many customers may not see the need to purchase an iron fish. This means that Lucky Iron Fish may have trouble penetrating this market of customers. Another barrier they face is that they do not have physical store locations. All of their company is solely online based. Many customers do not like shopping online and prefer to see a product before they purchase it. By not having strategic locations near shopping centers, restaurants, or even need pharmacies and doctor offices, they are losing out on money from customers who shop based on prime locations.
Another barrier for Lucky Iron Fish is language dissimilarity. Their target market consists of developing countries including Cambodia, Mozambique, and Guatemala. These countries speak Khmer, Portuguese, and Spanish, respectively. Even for those who speak slight English, it may be hard to communicate effectively. Translations are not always accurate and leave room for miscommunication.
As explained previously, Lucky Iron Fish may face the barrier of competition from companies who sell traditional iron supplements. One way they can overcome this barrier is to have their vice president of marketing emphasize that the iron fish is more natural than supplements. The consumers need to be reminded that they can cook iron naturally into their food rather than consumer supplements that may have unknown or unwanted additives. Their marketing can also explain that the iron fish is even safe for children who are at least a year of age. Another technique they could use to resolve this barrier is to greatly market their slogan of “a fish in every pot” (Lucky Iron Fish). Many people will be more inclined to buy the product if they understand that the company will donate one fish for every fish bought as an attempt to reach their goal of providing every village in Cambodia with an iron fish. Another barrier that they need to overcome is their lack of physical store locations. There are two ways they can do this. The first, and most simple solution, is to advertise heavily in the United States and Canada through televised ads, magazine articles, and possibly even promotional offers. This will bring more awareness of the company to the people who are either unsure of what Lucky Iron Fish is or for those who have never heard of the company. The second approach they could take is to partner with larger well-known companies who have already established a good reputation. This will automatically provide Lucky Iron Fish with a larger customer base. Lastly, they need to overcome the barrier of language dissimilarity. This can be resolved by hiring someone who can translate or teach the language. It may be best for them to hire someone who is native to the countries in their target market. This will ensure that there are no errors or miscommunications that could be detrimental to the company-customer relationships.
Whether or not an act is moral can be determined through the idea of utilitarianism. This is the idea that the greatest number of people benefited from an action taken (Zaremba 96). Utilitarianism is something that Lucky Iron Fish considers in every operational decision they make. First, is their decision to donate a fish to Cambodia each time one is bought online. They chose this country because over half of the population suffers from iron deficiency. They wanted to choose a country where they could help the most people with the product they offer. Another way they implement this idea is through their collaboration with partnerships; they do this as an attempt to reach their goal of helping one million people obtain an iron fish by 2020 (Lucky Iron Fish). Lastly, they strive to provide jobs for a large number of people in rural areas who cannot obtain work due to discrimination of their disabilities. Lucky Iron Fish hires local disabled Cambodians to make the packaging for their products.
Veil of Ignorance
Veil of ignorance is the idea that companies do not take into consideration financial influence or political power when making decisions (Zaremba 97). This idea, as it relates to Lucky Iron Fish, can be seen through the way they respond to donations and loans that are given to them. When they receive money, they do not invest or use it for their own benefit but rather spend it on materials to make additional iron fish for villages in Cambodia. For example, the $860,000 financing package received from Grand Challenges Canada was used directly towards making iron fish to reach their goal of 50,000 fish (A lucky little fish). Another aspect of their company where they do not consider financial gains is in the way they practice sustainability efforts. Although running a green company can be costly in the beginning, they continue to strive to protect the environment. They scored an environment score of ten due to their use of recycled materials for both the packaging and the fish itself (Lucky Iron Fish Enterprise). Lucky Iron Fish also ignores considerations of political power. They are not concerned with being the largest company but rather join partnerships with companies who have similar values and goals. Implementing veil of ignorance can “increase the chances of quality decision-making” and improve the overall operations of a company (Zaremba 97).
Categorical Imperative, the idea of absolutes regarding ethical decisions, is evident in Lucky Iron Fish’ 2016 B Impact Report. When they make decisions regarding operations, they ensure that these decisions are absolutely ethical and are aligned with the values of their company. An example of this that is shown in the report is the impact they have on communities. If an idea does not meet the criteria of civic engagement and giving, job creation, local suppliers and distributers, and diversity than they will not implement that idea into action (Lucky Iron Fish 2016). Additionally, this can be seen in their environmental practices. A new operation, no matter how beneficial to the growth of the company, will not be taken into consideration if it does not reduce waste or aid in the provision of renewable energy (Lucky Iron Fish Enterprise). This company will not break their code of ethics in order to further business interests. Lastly, they ensure that their employees are paid living wages, are provided with health benefits, and
are given job flexibility (Lucky Iron Fish Enterprise). They will always air on the side of safety when making decisions that impact communities, the environment, and the well-being of their employees.
The efforts of Lucky Iron Fish have placed them in the top one percentile of all B-certified companies. Their passion and dedication to ending worldwide iron deficiency and anemia while remaining a sustainable company will allow them to continue growing until their mission is accomplished. There are three key findings from my research on Lucky Iron Fish. First, is their business model of buy one give one which provides iron fish to small villages in Cambodia. Through this model they aim to reach their goal of distributing one million iron fish by 2020. The second key finding is that they are currently expanding their company in order to impact more lives. They are joining additional partnerships and will be providing educational workshops (Lucky Iron Fish). Lastly, they are a “sustainable, scalable, and impactful enterprise” that aims to make the “world a better and healthier place” (Lucky Iron Fish). Each of their products is made with recycled materials and their packaging is biodegradable.
“Lucky Iron Fish.” Lucky Iron Fish. Accessed 30 May 2018. https://luckyironfish.com/
“Lucky Iron Fish Enterprise.” B Corporation.net. Accessed 30 May 2018. https://www.bcorporation.net/community/lucky-iron-fish-enterprise
Lucky Iron Fish. “Lucky Iron Fish: A Simple Solution for a global problem.” Youtube. 28 October 2014. Accessed 4 June 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iY0D-PIcgB4
“Lucky little fish to fight iron deficiency among women in Cambodia.” Grand Challenges Canada. Accessed 6 June 2018. http://www.grandchallenges.ca/grantee-stars/0355-05-30/
Podder, Api. “Lucky Iron Fish Wins 2016 Big Innovation Award.” SocialNews.com. 5 February 2016. Accessed 4 June 2018. http://mysocialgoodnews.com/lucky-iron-fish-wins-2016-big-innovation-award/
Zaremba, Alan. “Organizational Communication.” New York: Oxford University Press Inc. 2010. Print.