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Function, not convention
Many of our examples demonstrate the entrepreneurs’ independent spirit above all. They are either free from, or are able to shake off convention.
Conversely, this means there is promise of success if I regard everything I find in place as a convention, at least until the opposite has been proven. I examine the processes without being intimidated and ask myself whether those things that were still thought to be reasonable in the past can now be organized more simply using modern methods.
I don’t settle for making a service or product a little cheaper, better, more efficient, smarter or more environmentally friendly, but instead I challenge the entire process, that is, I start to fundamentally rethink how it would be possible to organize the functions under current conditions.
I described this process in detail using the Tea Campaign as my example. Holger Johnson’s Ebuero also falls into this category, as does Ingvar Kamprad’s approach to rethinking the furniture business.
Years ago a major tea dealer, with a nod to his family’s tradition, showed me a diagram – today we’d call it an organizational chart – of how the international tea business is structured, how he had learned the tea business during his apprenticeship.
In his wildest dreams he would not have imagined that this could be altered so radically. He told me, “It was necessary to have someone like you, a total outsider, who could analyze the accustomed processes without any undue deference.”
But in fact the technique is very easy.
If you want to deal in a product, do not ask about the details, for example about the packaging, wrapping the pallets, retailers, wholesalers, importers, exporters or other marketing structures; simply ask yourself: how can I bring the product from its source to the customer, how can I organize the process as simply as possible and make use of components?
So that the only thing that remains for me to do is to organize the components.
With this technique, your chances are best if you’re a newcomer to the field and not yet inhibited by occupational blinders. Function, not convention doesn’t require a great deal of previous knowledge, only rigorous thinking and an objective disregard of what has come before.
If you are rigorous in your focus on function, then this question will arise on its own: what can you leave out? What in the conventional form is superfluous – and only costs money? Here I am not necessarily talking about giving something up. Quite the opposite. An entrepreneur’s ambition should be for the best. If you don’t have money, you must be creative.
Simplicity is a good principle. Complexity is the entrepreneur’s enemy. If you believe that “paring down” and “simplicity” are too basic, not impressive enough, and not at all grand, then remember Leonardo da Vinci:
“Simplicity is the ultimate perfection.”