Real Wealth Society

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I’ve been thinking about “evangineers” (part 2) By Fred Cederholm

Column for on/after Feb. 4th, 2007

I’ve been thinking about “evangineers” (part 2). Actually I’ve been thinking about Henry Ford/FORD, Ray Kroc/MCDONALDS, Sam Walton/WALMART, Bill Gates/ MICROSOFT, and changes All these men have clearly changed the world, becoming rich beyond their imaginings in the process. But the longer-term effects and impacts of their work haven't always provided a solution—and may in fact have caused more problems than they solved. Rarely, in fact, has history shown that the technocrats had true long-term solutions to anything. An “evangineer” is a blend of evangelist, "someone who tries to persuade other people to share enthusiasm for particular beliefs and ideals," and engineer. An “evangineer” could be any person who seeks to change some aspect of society and who also has the high level of knowledge/ expertise required to make that change. The important thing is that they use what they know to resolve a problem.

You see, over time the only real constant is change. If changes move slowly and cumulatively impact society as a whole over time, they are evolutionary. If changes move quickly and shake society to its very roots over a shorter period of time, they are revolutionary. “Evangineers” (it would appear) have the power to do both. Build a better mousetrap; and the world will beat a path to your door. These men had an idea/ plan, but what they set in motion over time frequently took on a life of its own – with unforeseen implications and ramifications. What could possibly go wrong, or be negative about that?

Henry Ford with his “invention” of the assembly line literally put America behind the wheel of the motor car. Over time, this revolution of the manufacturing process for a means of transportation, took the entire planet from horses to horsepower. This process soon morphed to encompass the making of anything (and everything) which was mass produced – not just in the US, but worldwide. He also did the unthinkable by paying his workers a living wage (later with full benefits) which would allow them to buy/ afford the products they made. What could possibly go wrong, or be negative about that? His evangineering made him and his family very wealthy.

Ray Kroc was a salesman of restaurant equipment. When he researched why a California customer was buying so many of one product, he got the idea for a chain of his own drive-in restaurants and the concept of “fast food” was born. After all, American families were more mobile (with their cars), they were away from home, and they needed to eat. The need for speed and volume accelerated the use of frying/grilling as the cooking means of choice. From the first installation in Des Plaines, Illinois on April 15, 1955 (first day’s revenues there were $366.12), McDonalds became a global giant with more locations worldwide than any other feeding establishment on the planet. What could possibly go wrong, or be negative about that? His evangineering made him and his family very wealthy.

Sam Walton began a career in retailing with JC Penney as a management trainee in Des Moines, Iowa in 1942. In 1945 he purchased a Ben Franklin Variety store in Newport, Arkansas. He pioneered the practice of discount merchandizing by buying wholesale goods from the lowest priced supplier. His huge success eventually cost him that franchise (and his lease); so… he opened his own Walton’s Five and Dime in Bentonville Arkansas in 1951. Success bred more success, and the first true Wal-Mart opened in Rogers, Arkansas in 1962. Walton expanded this new retailing concept - originally focusing on setting up shop in middle-sized communities with companies making products that could be sold in his growing network of stores. Sam Walton prided himself on the huge percentage of “American made” goods sold in the chain of his stores. “Always the Lowest Price” became the over-riding mantra; and the chain became the largest retailer on the planet worldwide. The “big box” store was born. Wal-Mart was re-defined by its sibling Sam’s Club. What could possibly go wrong, or be negative about that? His evangineering made him and his family very wealthy.

Bill Gates facilitated the personal computer and data manipulation revolution(s) by developing the software (binary language programs) used in running the first generation of widely used “small” (as opposed to room-sized) computers. MS DOS evolved into Windows which morphed into Windows 95 and then 98 and on to Windows XP and now into Vista. Each brought about a new generation of PC hardware. These operating systems were joined by many generation/ versions of utility programs which now run on at least 8 or every 10 personal computers worldwide. These machines - and the programs which run them - impact our lives in more ways than we can possibly imagine. What could possibly go wrong, or be negative about that? His evangineering made him and his family very wealthy.

Change is now an everyday fact of life. These four evangineers of American industries have had a huge impact on evolutionary change and revolutionary change. What could possibly go wrong, or be negative over time about that? I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.

(To be continued?) Copyright 2007 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved.


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