Written in Ink

Supply Chain Manglement [A Biggish Idea #3]

Hello, and welcome to 'A Biggish Idea'. In this edition we'll be talking about supply chain takeover and separating ourselves from the pack by using that as an engine for rapid expansion.

This is part 3 in a series. The other articles (conveniently in order!) are:

Building a better life within a Co-OperNation (contains a rundown on the whole plan and a quick FAQ)



Let's make MondraGoogleValve, but better.(We start the creation of a framework using existing corporations and motivational science)

And this is the part where we get a little creative.

Let's start by visualizing our new company, because that makes it easier. Let's pretend we've got maybe 1500 people working for us, we have five campuses on four different continents (mix and match as you like). In addition we have . .

  • A high starting salary with an low salary cap, with extra money being reinvested in the corporation (Valve, Mondragon)
  • A bunch of people (let's pretend half) who live in on-campus or corporate sponsored housing of extremely high quality (gigabit internet, whole-wall touch sensitive rear-projection built in, etc.) and is designed by the employees (Mondragon + Google)
  • A large, high tech corporate campus built to improve worker productivity (Valve, Google, Mondragon)
  • Hiring criteria that focuses on enthusiastic, positive employees who play well together and enjoy becoming increasingly more amazing (Valve, Google, Mondragon, Science)
  • A management structure in which employees choose their own projects, teams, co-workers, and mangers (Valve, Science)
  • A corporate culture that gains productivity advantages by reducing the suck and increasing the fun in their employee's lives (Valve, Science, Duh, Mondragon, Google)

That should get us going for a starting point. That's all in line with existing examples without any real stretching, and we have both science and real-world examples that indicate that these people would be spectacularly difficult to compete with in whatever industry we focused them on.

And before you ask . . . yes, now we're going to talk about the industries they aren't focused on.


We're going to talk about taking over their supply chain.


There are a few definitions of a supply chain, but I like to boil it down to 'where all the stuff comes from'.

Taking parts of a supply chain internally is a really common things for corporations. If you don't have to pay somebody else to do it and you can pull it off internally it's likely to get considered . . . especially when the product's overpriced.


And everything's overpriced.

Yes, I understand economics and supply and demand and all that . . . I'm talking about this on a much more fundamental level. Everything's overpriced because we live in a capitalistic society and most of our man hours aren't spent doing anything that anybody else particularly wants done. It's part of the cost of our economic system.


But there's a bigger price, and that price is quality.

So, how do we fix that?

We're going to start with an example that's way on the optional side of 'supply'. The same approach we're using here applies to health care, production, manufacturing, and so on . . . but it's a bit longer to explain that way . . .and less fun.


We're not taking over everything in one little article, we're just getting the ball rolling.

Let's start simple. We geeks love our entertainment, don't we? How many people still lament not getting more Firefly?


Let's pretend that there are a lot of Firefly fans working for our company. In fact, I think it's safe to say we can put 'Must love Firefly' in the box and we'll have the opposite of a hiring problem.


(note: I'm not saying we should do that, but just pointing out that we can do that sort of thing to make it easy to have a large group of people who share specific interests and passions. Also, we should totally do that!)

Let's also pretend that we planned ahead some and made sure that we already had a lot of good media and creative skills as part of our primary industry. . . heck, by some strange twist of fate we're only a dozen or so people away from our own indie studio.


What if we went up to Mr. Whedon (or Whedon-like figure) with an offer. . .

We'll set them up with a studio and they'll get help from all of us and can pull in as many amazing people as are needed. . . . just so they've got they're similarly groovy to work with (i.e. the same hiring standards).


Their job: Make amazing things. Just impress the heck out of us and have fun doing it.

That's basically how your typical skunkworks project works, we're just turning it into a way of life in the best possible way.


What sort of quality could they produce if the weren't constantly dealing with politics and news networks? What could they accomplish if they were set up to have all the same benefits we did?

The answer is a lot, of course. We're not talking 'more Firefly', we're talking about a whole new level of awesome. . . multimedia experiences. . multiple universes with mysterious connections between them, that sort of thing. And every step of the way. . . from writing to production to release . . . they get to do things in ways designed for actual humans.


Of course, everything would be free for all the employees . . . but when it comes to everyone else in the world . . . we could charge a smidge, right?

What would your average geek say to a true spiritual sucessor to Firefly. . cubed? What if there were tie-ins from every industry imaginable created not as ways to profit but because other people couldn't resist finding ways to spread it into other parts of their lives?


If employees want to spend money on something, then odds are other people do too. If you use better processes to create a better product for internal use then it can become a similarly superior marketable product externally.


We reduce costs collectively, have cooler toys to play with, and carve out an industry to compete in all in one fell swoop, and all because we wanted more Firefly.

It's a lot harder to see the quality/cost advantages with say . .an MRI machine or a Cell Phone, but they're there too. Let's hit on some home technology next.


For example. Let's say you have a lot of people who like big screens (many people). Instead of constantly replacing plasma displays you can set up a little Makerspace or small production facility to make frames to hold IR bezels and plexiglass with a rear projection film on them. Like so. . .


Cool for DJs.

Cooler for standing workstations and gaming monitors, right? Very few resources, very inexpensive, and cooler than what most of us get.


When you go to Best Buy, you don't see these. . you see hugely expensive and lower quality displays that you usually can't interact with, so there's certainly a window of opportunity. Something similar could be done to replace your entire wall with a TV (prisms and mirrors!) and in theory cheap plastic fiber optics run into an optical taper could be used to make a film with a little attachment you stick on the end of a little projector.

I bet if we got some really good minds together they could take ideas like these to a whole new level, right? Worse case scenario we spend a few hundred bucks (that's all one costs, without any bulk discounts) making cool toys to play with . .worst case scenario we take over another segment of an industry or discover another cool invention on the way.


We'll be hitting on more examples later, but I think that at least gets the general idea across. Don't just copy, play a new game.

As a bonus have another advantage. . . our staffing model is all about motivation. We don't need the best of the best ... we need regular people who are well motivated to try. That opens up the general populace to us in ways that others can't take advantage of.


And the bigger we get. . . the more we benefit.

That's where things start diverging dramatically from those corporations that everybody wants to work for but nobody can.


We're out to solve that. . . this is designed to expand QUICKLY. To grow as fast as possible into as many places as possible, because the more people we have the more we're all enriched.

So for today's takeaway? Well, we already had a strong, stable company that got a lot of productivity out of people and was a whole lot of fun.


Let's just add ..

Because this institution depends on average but motivated people, it can staff a takeover of its entire supply chain to quickly become economically sustainable.

The more people it has, the more parts of its supply chain it can incorporate.

The more parts of its supply chain it incorporates the less each person costs to support

The lower the cost per person, the more people it can enable.

And while all this is happening . .every thing they do to enhance their own lives is an opportunity to get a spike in resources to speed the whole process along.


That's what we're doing here. We're taking those tiny little blips of awesome and taking them mainstream . . . because you deserve a chance to live awesomely too, don't you?

Next: We turn campuses into cities and turn Dunbar's number into a GOOD thing in PeopleSpheres: A Different Look at Options

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