|On quality beer and music gear:
A great while ago i used to brew my own beer, fix my own car, etc.
I did it not just because being a poor student in college, I couldnt
afford to get the store bought or pro made stuff, but because i thought
that i could do a much better job of working on my own stuff myself.
During my quests as a fledgling brewmaster, I got to thinking about why
homebrewed beer could be such high quality and made for such little
money compared to the expensive, FOUL tasting mass produced stuff that
was out there.
After researching the ingredients in their beer, the way it was made,
how they used the millions of dollars in equipment they possesed, and
all the science and technology at their disposal, and still they
succeeded in cranking out a mediocre product that most people had no clue as to
I found out that it didnt cost a whole lot more to use the very best
ingredients to make beer, yet the big brew companies used middling -or
just plain cheap- shortcuts for their products. using filler materials
("adjuncts"), flavor additives (cheaper and faster), inorganic chemical
stabilizers (increase shelf life).. and on and on..
(using another cooking analogy) I think it boils down to these things:
passion: the people that work for big companies rarely have a stake in
the products they make; more likely they are simply a cog in a gigantic
machine, and rarely have the opportunity to see the impact the quality
of their work has on their customers. I wanted to make the best beer i
possibly could. joe megabrew just wanted to make sure his health
insurance didnt go up next month. big difference in motivation.
overhead: I was one person making beer. the megabrew people have things
like budgets and allocations and hierarchy charts and shrinkage and
investors and razor thin margins and bean counters they have to kow tow
to. if i threw in an additional $5 to my mixture it didnt matter much. if
megabrew did the same thing with their products it would put 20,000
people out of work because of profit losses due to the stock plummeting or
keeping it real: when a big company has problems with their products,
they can rationalise them as "acceptable losses" or write them off, or
simply call it the cost of doing business. i'm sure a few of you
remember the scene from 'fight club' where they go over the economics of
issuing a recall of a product? A + B = C. if my product (beer) sucked, I
would have heard about it right away from people right in front of me.
would I listen? yes. if I have a whole department dedicated to customer
service and i (as the product designer) am walled away from the people
actually using my products? hmmmm.
These were some valuable lessons that I learned long ago, and I havent
forgotten them for a minute. maybe this might strike a chord with you?