A Better Method of Delivery
Browsing over business history reveals some interesting aspects of the driving force behind our economy. Over time, entrepreneurs with vision — “movers and shakers” who inspired or created profitable endeavors that have benefited humanity, have fueled our growth.
In the 19th century, it was transportation devices that made fortunes. Railroads and steamboats enabled us to market products across vast stretches of real estate, and the raw materials could be moved from where they were to where they could be used.
The early 20th century was a time when millionaires were made with inventions. Harnessing electricity, assembly line techniques, electric motors that could power most anything and the internal combustion engine were inventions that created jobs and better lifestyles for everyone.
From the 1970s on, information and communications were the stepping stones to now-billionaire status. People found ways to make a television monitor a source of profit, entertainment and utility such that it’s now hard to imagine life without computers. The software that enables us to accomplish so much is surely one of the truly big bargains of life, but it enabled the creation of vast fortunes among those who had the vision to make it happen.
Today, I think the key to attaining wealth and creating changes that benefit humanity lies in developing a better method of delivery. The fast lube industry is a perfect example. Changing oil wasn’t something new in the 1970s. It was a routine chore that had to be done since the first horseless carriage rolled out. Seven decades went by before someone came up with a better method of delivery — a highly trained team in a bi-level building, working simultaneously both above and below in a precise sequence to get the job done in 10 minutes — with drive-thru convenience! It was a better method of delivery that put a fast lube in most every town in America.
The concept of generating a better method of delivery applies to everything and brings about profound change. The postal service may well fade away. We can communicate with email — a faster, more efficient and economical method of delivery. With an entire library available on our tablet or monitor, who browses a bookstore anymore? Even entertainment is getting a new method of delivery and billionaires are made in the process. Been to a movie lately or do you watch it on your living room big screen via Netflix?
And the intangibles? Mark Zuckerburg, under 30 and worth $28 billion, developed a new method of delivering “friendships” and a social system that connects (and reconnects) billions of people. Amazon and eBay have changed a lot of shopping habits with a new method of delivery. Craigslist has even put a dent in garage sales and flea market revenues.
3D printing may revolutionize manufacturing in just a few years. With its ability to manufacture hard objects guided by software, it’s a major potential change in the method of delivery of everything from dentures to aircraft parts.
Forbes magazine recently had a special edition featuring the world’s richest. The common thread of most all the “new money” was that they had developed a better method of delivery.