Blog This in Your Think Tank

What is up in your Think Tank? Oh, you say you are not in a Think Tank, well, why not, you seem to like to think right? Perhaps you might enjoy some of the things we discussed in our Think Tank this week, as our topics are so diverse and interesting. For instance, we are all consumers in a way, even if some of us are somewhat minimalists. Have you ever considered why we have so many products are being recalled.

My Product Has Been Recalled; What is a Recall and What is Really Going on?

Indeed, I have found most recalls to be simply “CYA” for the manufacturer to prevent a future lawsuit, generally one or two accidents, which were really driver’s error or a misuse of equipment. In aviation there were always many Airworthiness Directives, most were a waste of time and totally costly. In the trucking industry – it kills efficiency in downtime.

Some automotive manufacturers now use it is an excuse to get everyone back to the dealership showroom to introduce the new models and sell add-ons and other preventative maintenance since 80% of the routine manual required maintenance goes undone, costing the dealership $100s of thousands of dollars per year.

For the back of my Motor Coach, I bought a little scooter, I have had words with a couple of dealerships, as they are fine before the sale, then afterwards when there is a problem, the whole world changes and they do not give you the time of day and gouge you on service? No wonder most of those motorcycle dealerships change ownership so often. When recalls come it seems they lolly gag and lure you into the showroom to look at the latest models.

Another fascinating subject this week was a topic about Korea Town and alcohol laws in California. In the state of the nuts, fruits and flakes out West, and mind you that is what they call it, not me – it seems that the ‘no alcohol’ sales after 2 am is not observed and that in these areas you can buy alcohol until 6 am. The City of Los Angeles does nothing about it, as to not make waves. Why are we allowing such things, as it destroys the nation’s melting pot, due to self segregation and self-rule outside the laws of society and civilization.

In Korean Town you can buy Korean Gin, it’s a green potent alcohol, that they sell in Restaurants imported from Korea, you cannot buy it anywhere else, it is quite good if you like that sort of thing. Many of the restaurants where it is sold do not have alcohol licenses. Should these laws be enforced or should we remove the laws for everyone else too? Our nation should not play such double standards, any thoughts?

The next subject is rather interesting about the problematic future of Wars in Space. An interesting book that our Think Tank read on this subject re-affirmed what many others have said. “Empty Promise – The Growing Case Against Star Wars” by The Union of Concerned Scientists – 1986. Today, we see weapons being produced, which can shoot down intercontinental ballistic missiles in the US and China practicing by shooting down satellites. Space Debris aside; are we setting ourselves up for a future of wars in space?

The Star Wars Program that Ronald Reagan was promoting back during the cold war finally helped break the Soviet Union’s back financially. The ability to take out enemy communication, GPS and net-centric satellite components will definitely be a part of future human warfare. An interesting book to read on this subject is; “The Fallacy of Star Wars” by UCS [1984 Report]. Now with many nations all entering space, putting up satellites, spying from space and developing weapons for space – the space war cometh, whether we like it or not; George Lucas was right.

Now with space laser technology and anti-satellite weapons it appears the US Air Force Roadmap for space defense is all but guaranteed and along with the Chinese forces that building up and their space program military exploits, the future is foretold. Obviously, in a war, it is necessary to create a fog and disrupt information flow in your enemy’s command and control and we need not look past Karl von Clausewitz to confirm this.

In the future much of the escalation sequences will happen so fast in a Space War, due to the speed of the lasers in firing that Artificial Intelligent computers will run the scenario and fire without human intervention or second guessing, thus one must ask can we trust the computers? Well, can we trust humans; judging from history the answer is “Certainly Not!”

An additional subject perhaps of interest is how the Digital Economy has played such a role in the economic advancement of the United States and in World Trade. An interesting book to read on this subject is; “The Digital Economy – Promise and Peril in the Age of the Networked Intelligence” by Don Tapscott written in 1995. This gentleman predicted much of what we see today and how the Internet has evolved and how ‘business enterprise’ software has come to be the center of the corporation.

The insight in this book rivaled the futuristic predictions of Bill Gates; “The Road Ahead” and “Business at the Speed of Thought” and thus was relevant to the topic at hand. One of the most interesting insights was the fact that industry lines become blurred, which was a common theme in other books of the day such as; “Co-opetition” and “Competition is Dead” and still we see companies re-designing their market mix, the way they do business and how to leverage the Internet to increase customer loyalty, profits and longevity. The Digital Economy got off to a fast start and crashed, but make no mistake the Digital Economy is stronger than ever before and this is the future.

Today we hear debate still on the subject of Centralized or De-Centralized companies, government agencies and military command and control or net-centric systems. But this is nothing new, in fact it might be interesting if you go and pick up a copy of “The Centralized Company – Making the Most of Entrepreneurial Management” by Robert Levinson 1983. Robert states that this is a radical idea = radical decentralization that is.

Mr. Levinson says decentralization makes business fun, less structured and fewer rules and regulations within the organization, which make local regional variations tougher to deal with. Indeed, in addition to fun, he shows how profitable it can be also. Having personally run a Franchising Company in my career; it was amazing how important this book was to some of my decisions as we grew into a nationwide company. This helped me over come communication issues and got me to buy a motor coach to personally visit all our outlets. Never should a company let the entrepreneurial spirit amongst its ranks die.

So how can a large company break up the bureaucracy then? Well, first you must act, mobilize, have everyone at all levels agree on the process to remove the inefficiencies. Have a risk-taking revival, blow off stodgy committees and bring back the entrepreneurial spirit. Pay for new ideas with a bonus system, increase employee local moral and teamwork and allow local decision making to rule the day. Once you start you will invent new methods and ideas to move the ball down the field faster and develop new plays to win.

Well, those are all good points and advice from inside a business but what about the other side of the equation? The consumer, how can the consumer influence businesses? How can the consumers become socially conscious? By voting with their dollar, that’s how. May I be so bold as to recommend “The Green Consumer” by John Elkington, Joe Makower and Julia Hailes [1998] as a good place to start? Indeed you can buy products that do not cost the environment much. I would like to also recommend “The Green Capitalist” by Tom Burke, a relative classic in the Green Movement Circles. No, I am not a Greeny or a Sierra Club look-a-like, rather I am simply someone who likes clean air and water, because I breath the air and drink the water – we all do.

If one is going to call for political intervention to protect the environment, then they need to walk the talk and not live in hypocrisy – that means recycling, living right and using their purchasing power in a moral and ethical way. It means conservation of water, fuel, not polluting, using alternative energies like solar power, but it also means buying organic foods, using safe cleaning products and wearing clothing that does not cause issues onto our Earth. Think on this, because if one is to complain about Oil, Air Pollution or the environment and then drives a 1970 Volvo with leaky rings that allow the engine to suck up oil and pollute then such hypocrisy is unethical.

Speaking of pollution in the air and water, what are you doing to prevent pollution in your body? You know you are responsible for eating right and so let me remind you to educate yourself ASAP on what to eat, when to eat and how to eat so you can still stand on your feat and not get Type II Diabetes. Likewise the information that you put into your brain, the stress you allow, and the emotions you evoke all matter in your health.

You might like to read “Super Immunity – Master Your Emotions and Improve Your Health” by Paul Pearsall, PhD. 1987. Why do I recommend this book you might ask? Well, it appears to me that much of the poor health in our nation is caused by undo stress and negative bio-feedback. Am I cursing Western Modern Medicine? Oh, heavens no, nor is the author of the book, rather letting the reader know that you can improve your health by improving your attitude among other things.

Your body needs to be clean and free from stress along with your home. Just like you can improve your health by positive thought, eating right and preventing polluting it, you can also do the same to your home by organizing it. Speaking of which perhaps you might like to read the book; “Built from Scratch” by Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank, the Founders of Home Depot [1999]. Like all books about Corporate Founders, you will enjoy the perseverance, story and ultimate achievement of the making of the largest retail home chain. These founders where sworn to take care of the customers and their teams. The two founders were in lock step towards that goal, often finishing each others sentences in interviews. These gentlemen knew how to build their brand and they were in it to win it and to deliver to the masses all those home items they desired, while retaining a profit and you know what – it worked.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed today’s Think Tank lecture and will perhaps read some of these books and ponder some of these thoughts as you progress through your week. Good day, good night and continued success.

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