In today's challenging economic times, I just pinch myself that I'm not working with or for one of America's Big Three automakers. They can't seem to catch a lucky break with their plight, playing out in front of us as a symbol of failed strategy and out of touch management.

Nowhere are the contrasting styles of strategy and management more evident between Japan and the United States than in hybrid car technology. Pop quiz -- what flagship vehicle from anyone of the Big Three comes to mind when you think of the "hybrid" moniker?

Thinking, thinking'¶

Now the same question for Japanese manufacturers. How quickly did Toyota's Prius come to mind? If you could even find one today on crowded dealer lots, you'd pay a premium for it, despite falling gas prices.

Here's the kicker -- and something all of us can learn from in regard to making a product that's so dialed in and coveted you can charge a premium price for it. You can't cost justify the additional expense of the Prius versus domestic or otherwise in gas savings alone! Instead Toyota created a molten hot product by capturing the very real, but very challenging to define, consumer "green mindset." The mindset that puts a premium on environmental impact of the products consumers buy.

The question for all of us regardless of industry and marketplace is, how do we define the "green mindset" that either exists today or surely will tomorrow in our markets spaces? And then, how do we position our companies and products to capitalize on this ever increasing consumer perception to create our own version of the Toyota Prius?!

Furthermore, it is becoming no longer politically acceptable the world over to be in business for the mere profit of it. The emergence of these two factors has propelled green technology embracers like Toyota to the forefront in their field. By rewarding forward-thinking companies with their patronage, consumers have spoken with their most powerful voice -- their wallets! If you haven't heard them yet, and responded accordingly in your market, there's only one thing that's certain, some other eco-prenuer will!

I come from the camp where luck happens when opportunity meets preparedness. So take a lesson from America's decidedly "unlucky" Big Three and prepare your company now for the emerging green movement that has no limitations on its reach. You just might be rewarded with your own "Prius" product in the process.