Maximizing Customer Value and Engagement

Businesses exist to serve their customers. Self-perpetuation, environmental sustenance, social issues, and even shareholder value maximization are of little importance if the customer is not served. How can companies, and other organizations, give their customers their best?

By Mark D. Harris

The rug dealer at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul carefully poured the Turkish apple chi into a small cup. “Here, my friend,” he said as he handed the cup to me. He sat down close by and asked, “How is your family?” Thus began ten minutes of chit chat before we even mentioned the silk rug that I had admired when I came in. The small talk would have gone on longer, but my American impatience cut it short. By the time we were done, the rug dealer had $500 of my hard-earned dollars, and I walked out with a beautiful rug that probably cost less than half that to make. The dealer may have congratulated himself for fleecing another rich American. I congratulated myself on buying a rug that my wife would like, having a fascinating experience, and helping support a Turkish businessman and the economy of a third world nation. A fair deal, I figure.

Buying and selling across the world

Americans walk into a store, find what they want, check to see if the price is reasonable to them, and if it is, they buy the item. Rarely is there any dickering between buyer and seller over price. My experience in northern and western Europe has been the same.

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Task Automation and Jobs

Will automation and robotics replace most workers across the world? Which industries are at the greatest risk? What will societies do with and for people who lose their jobs? What can individuals, families, churches, and communities do to help?

By Mark D. Harris

By the 1920s, the automated production line, new tools, and the principles of “scientific management” had dramatically increased worker productivity in the US. In 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that productivity would increase so much that in 100 years, his grandchildren would need to work only 15 hours per week (Bessen, 2020). This has not happened, of course, because of the vaster array of goods and services now produced, the much larger number of people those products are produced for, and the skyrocketing expectations of consumers throughout the world.

More recently, voices in business, labor, and the general population, have decried automation and robotics as job killing. CNBC reported in 2019 that 25% of US jobs, especially the “boring and repetitive ones,” were at risk for vanishing due to automation (Nova, 2019). Such predictions frighten workers and introduce a list of questions and policy problems. Whose jobs are likely to go? How can we retrain these people into jobs through which they and their families can thrive? What degree of safety net do we need to have for these people in the meantime? Will robots and other types of automation decrease the human need to work so much that in the future, Keynes will be right? Will we all be working 15 hours per week, or less?

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Remembering What Counts at Christmas – Play 15 minutes

A 15 minute (or so) play about a good and faithful but worn-out pastor who needs to be reminded about what really matters at Christmas.

By Mark Harris

Characters

  • Pastor Tim – male, mid 40s
  • Cindy – female, late 30s, Pastor Tim’s wife
  • Michael – son of Pastor Tim, 12-13 yo
  • Candali – daughter of Pastor Tim, 9-10 yo
  • Rinna – daughter of Pastor Tim, 7-8 yo
  • Jenny – Church secretary, female, 50s to 60s
  • Jose – male, mid 30s
  • Mariana – female, late 20s
  • Joshua – infant

Setting – A Baptist church in Detley, South Virginia. Pastor Tim and Jenny the secretary are the only paid staff. Tim’s 4th grade daughter Candali and 2nd grade daughter Rinna are doing homeschool work in his office. The roof is leaking, with drops falling into a bucket on the floor.

Time – late Tuesday morning

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Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift – 22 Jan 1879

A METT-TC, Combined Arms, and Battlespace Analysis of one of the least expected defeats and miraculous victories in military history.  

By Mark D, Harris

The military experiences of the British Empire during the reign of Victoria are filled with lessons for modern day soldiers. Isandlwana was one of the most humiliating defeats in the history of British arms, and Rorke’s Drift, occurring on the same day, only a few miles from Isandlwana and against the same enemy, was one of the most amazing victories. Queen Victoria awarded eleven Victoria Crosses (VC), the highest honor in the British Army. It was the most to VCs awarded to members of any regiment in a single action in British history.

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