Businesses and other organizations can be understood in three different types. Facilitated Networking, Value Added, and Solution Shop business models, and combinations thereof, have existed since before Rome ruled. Modern entrepreneurs will benefit as they think of their endeavors in these ways.
By Mark D. Harris
Several women at a baby shower share stories about giving birth, providing tips to an expectant mother on how to make delivery easier and less painful. One older woman provides a beautiful baby dress, while another shares the address of a bargain store.
A farmer plants acres of grain. He and his family labor over their fields for months, watering and weeding while the crop comes in. In due time, they harvest an abundance. They keep some grain for their own consumption and sell the rest.
Two colonels pore over a map on a battlefield, discussing how to defeat the enemy dug in on a ridgeline nearby. They are not sure of their opponent’s strength and disposition, but they are losing the initiative and need to act soon.
Continue reading “Business Models for the First and the 21st Centuries”
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?
Continue reading “Task Automation and Jobs”
A Christian look at unintended ways that our lives affect others, and what to do.
By Mark D. Harris
The Cat House Café at the Memphis Zoo sits beside the gibbon exhibit, where Ringo and Talulah entertain guests with their funny faces and their acrobatics. When we eat there, my family and I get a table as close as we can to the picture windows overlooking their home, and yesterday the closest table was next to some loud, rambunctious little boys. Valuing Ringo and Talulah more than a quiet table, knowing that it is senseless to expect little boys to be quiet at the zoo, and being loud sometimes ourselves, we sat down and enjoyed a cheeseburger, waffle fries, and chicken strips for lunch.
Being a business and economics-minded person, I could not help but think about how the various people in the café were affecting each other; the costs and benefits of each interaction. The direct and intentional interactions were between workers preparing and selling food and drinks, and customers eating and drinking. There were indirect and unintentional actions as well. These can be thought of as externalities, which Investopedia defines as “A consequence of an economic activity that is experienced by unrelated third parties.” Typically, the costs or benefits of the goods or services being bought and sold do not reflect the costs or benefits of the externality. A classic example of a negative externality is a factory generating air pollution that its workers and nearby residents breathe. A classic example of a positive externality is that same factory cleaning up its exhaust and planting a park for its employees. The surrounding neighborhood would also benefit.
Continue reading “Externalities and Internalities”
An example of the stupid things even doctors do when it comes to health care.
By Mark D. Harris
In March of 2013 I wrote Healing the Health Care Cost Conundrum. Four years later, in March of 2017, I have retired from the US Army and am practicing medicine in Memphis, TN. My practice is in the inner city, and our focus is serving the Medicaid population. Our patients are impoverished and often very sick, with chronic diseases frequently showing up 20 years earlier than in their more affluent counterparts. Many live in dangerous communities, have no reliable transportation, and have unhealthy food. Obesity is the norm, violence is taken for granted, and serious mental illness is widespread. It comes as no surprise that many patients abuse drugs, citing chronic pain that may or may not be real. Some come to the clinic for no other reason than to feed their drug habit, and try to get narcotics to generate a little extra income. It is the toughest medical environment I have encountered since my combat tour in Iraq.
Continue reading “Health Care Foibles – A Personal Tale”