A listening device
Jacqueline Novogratz points out that the market can be an efficient listening device. If you go to a person and offer charity or even a gift, there's not a lot of choice. But if you offer to sell someone something, you'll hear very clearly what's wrong with it, whether it's worth it, and how it can be improved. The transaction engages both sides in a discussion, and sometimes, the market causes the supplier to listen. Co-creation over time transforms problems into opportunities.
In fact, this is the single best explanation for why markets work. Voluntary engagement and the exchange of resources can solve many problems, particularly if coercion is avoided.
As soon as an organization achieves significant market power, though, it's tempting for it to not listen any longer. Coercion and market power feel more efficient than engaging and leading. Apple stopped listening to its biggest fans and focuses on the stock price instead. Companies with near monopolies (like telecommunications, Google, Fedex, etc.) begin to lose the listening skills they'd developed and instead respond by expressing their power. Extraction companies focus on lobbying instead of innovating.
This willful ignorance and lack of engagement can last a long time, but it never lasts forever. Someone who listens better eventually shows up and changes the game.
If you hold the small end of a megaphone up to your ear, it acts as an amplifier, helping you listen more carefully.
And if you want to be heard, you can move it to your mouth and share your ideas. Persistently, consistently and often.
The best way to complain is to make something. The second best way is to say something. And if you can organize others to say it with you, even better.