The notion of idea is, of course, very important philosophically, and many philosophers have struggled to define it unequivocally. The notion is, nonetheless, of practical importance in the world of commerce and industry. The level of a product, and therefore of a company, is a function of the level of the idea of which that product is the expression. Furthermore, the potential for growth that a company has is directly related to the level of the primary product of that company. In a well-known article it is pointed out that the railroads stopped growing even though the need for transportation increased. This did not occur because the need was filled by others, but simply because it was not filled by the railroads themselves. The railroads let others take customers away from them because “they assumed themselves to be in the railroad business rather than in the transportation business. The reason they defined their industry wrongly was because they were railroad-oriented instead of transportation-oriented.” Hollywood also perceived its business incorrectly and suffered as a consequence. “It thought it was in the movie business when it was really in the entertainment business. ‘Movies’ implies a specific limited product” (i.e., lower level idea).
Peter Drucker underlines the importance of what we are saying when he asks, “Is a company that makes and sells kitchen appliances, such as electric ranges, in the food business? Is it in the homemaking business? Or is its main business really consumer finance? Each answer might be the right one at a given time for a given company. But each would lead to very different conclusions as to where the company should put its efforts and seek its rewards.” The answer depends upon the idea.
It is only incidental to the manufacturing process that material so frequently provides the form. Modern industry is seeing a rapid increase in work directed simply to expessing ideas in verbal form. With the change to power through influence with its concomitant change to professionalism, the expression of ideas in verbal form will become increasingly important.
March 25th, 2020 ~See here, the philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti, talk about Idea. As Krishnamurti has said, in this blog, if you follow his “ideas,” your business will probably fail; and you won’t really mind. K talked about creativity coming from that place where you don’t actually have to act–just being in that space is creativity–that space coming from meditation. He talks about creativity here. Will all this said, we are in the ballpark in discussing Albert Low and Jiddu Krishnamurti, are we not?
I often wondered if RawDaddy’s, the vegan fast-slow food concept my brother James started was in the food business or vegan/gluten-free food business. Competing in the food business always seemed daunting–daunting due to underfunded and personally not wanting to put all those hours in that typical food business owners did. Plus, competing with unhealthy food concepts. In the vegan and gluten-free space, we had less competition, but less customer potential customers. Sometimes, it seemed like we were in the entertainment or production business. Every Sunday at the Farmers’ Market, it felt like we were a show for people, especially when the market was full of people. Setting up the booth, fulfilling multiple roles–from making and preparing the food, working the cash register serving the drinks, to trading with the other vendors, it was a real ordeal. For many years, I would fall asleep in my van just outside the market before heading home for just a 30 minute drive. This product and entertainment was borne from our years growing up in a family giving holiday parties at Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Easter, not to mention other parties for special events. What is the Idea? . . .