An old Chinese philosophy describes well the give and take, the ebb and flow, the constant change yet mutual interaction of many aspects of our lives, our environment, our universe. It has a symbol we’ve all seen:
I was reminded of this by an article of Starbucks and their recent announcement about closing many stores. Starbucks will continue to be a very large company even after paring back its presence in the marketplace, to be sure, but this article serves as an interesting example of many things:
- In business, things must change. A college professor once told me that every business faces four choices in what it does every day: adapt, mutate, change, or die. In other words, every business must constantly evolve in order to survive. That’s just the way it is.
- It takes real insight, however, to maintain the qualities that make a business successful while still evolving it to be as successful in the future. A company that views itself as a manufacturer of quality vehicles doesn’t have to make the same cars every year… those can evolve with the times… but it must keep its priority on building QUALITY cars.
- If a country is established and prospers based on certain principles, it can adapt with the times but it must be wary of changing the principles that made it successful in the first place.
- When it first started out, Starbucks was cool. Everyone loved the brand and all that it connoted.
- At some point, it seemed to fall somewhat out of favor but continued to expand anyway. It apparently lost touch with its consumers. Rather than delivering personalized service, workers became automatons. Rather than sticking with its core products, it tried to expand into other food products. And the company opened many stores, often within eyesight of each other. Too much of a good thing CAN be bad.
- OUR country started expanding its services many years ago. Despite no Constitutional support, the federal government started getting involved in a host of social programs. While well intentioned, they have just as many disadvantages for the people as they do advantages. These programs do the recipients few real favors: now, we have a “dependency attitude” ingrained in many of our citizens which inherently creates a psychological limit, or hurdle, for them to overcome before they can achieve success.
- Apparently, there is a faction of our society that likes things or people when they are small, when they are the underdog, and don’t like those same things/people when they achieve success and are more mainstream.
- We jump on the bandwagon to build up actors into stars… and then abandon them just as quickly, choosing to then tear them down and apparently enjoy seeing their persona destroyed.
- We applaud a business like Walmart initially when it built stores in rural towns where reasonably priced products simply were not available, but hate it when it becomes wildly successful and expands nationally.
- Many of our own citizens used to love our country and want to share with others in the world the many advantages it offere… and now have come to hate what our country stands for and view other nations as models.
- Some people claim to only like small, local businesses… but fail to recognize the valuable role large businesses play in the economy.
- BIG companies often establish markets in the first place, generate a total sales volume large enough to bring about economies of scale and reducing the cost of the production of supplies for all consumers (including small companies), and demonstrate proven methods of delivering products to market efficiently.
- The U.S. demonstrated the road to success in many ways over its history… and has served as a role model for other countries as they reached for greater success on their own. While not perfect, we have shown the many good things that can be accomplished when freedom is allowed, when individual independence is promoted, when taxes are not onerous, and when self-reliance is encouraged.
So, the yin and yang, the ups and downs, continue… in business, in government, in life. As one thing is attempted, another is affected. The pendulum swings one way, and swings back again later.
Our country has experimented in many areas. In my opinion, it has been “too friendly” to changes at the most fundamental levels and that has resulted in a shift in the wrong direction for our great nation. We need to come back again to the core values that were responsible for our huge initial success. It is time for change… change back to those basics.