Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mass Customization

Mass customization.  Yep folks, it is finally happening.  You see, I think part of the ills of this country come from the fact that Burger King lets you have it your way.

During the industrial revolution, we started making products more inexpensive by realizing economies of scale.  In doing this, we created a middle class.  But we also allowed people to have more things.  Don't get me started on things, that is another post for another day.  As we became very good at making lots of similar things, people started to want something that was different than their neighbor.  Hence, mass customization was born.  When I worked in manufacturing, it was the goal to figure out how to maintain the economies of scale and let you have it your way.

A lot of companies have figured this out.  We have lots of products that we can get that are made for us.  Dell lets you make your computer and pick the color.  Moen lets you design your faucet by picking all the trim pieces.  Burger King makes your burger to order. 

Because we have gotten used to people letting us have it our way, we have come to expect that we will get things our way.  So, when we interact with other, we are surprised when we can not have it our way.  I think our push to be more tolerant is in conflict with our need to have it our way.  It is hard to be considerate of someone different and be self centered.

We have become a country of people like Sally in When Harry Met Sally.  We want to hold the pickles and substitute the cheese for lettuce.  So, when it comes to planning a party or what ever, when someone suggests that you might need to do it differently, it is met with objection.  But I want to do it my way.  The spirit of working together and understanding each other is lost.  We immediately become polarized. 

Perhaps it is time to start walking my way, and I'll start walkin' your way.  We'll meet in the middle by the old Georgia pine.  Perhaps it is time to realize that you can't always have it your way.

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