Free Enterprise in Action
These articles were written about the business of Fenwick Software, or are extracts or developments of ideas
from The Fragility of Freedom.
Solving Complex Problems
When I was studying Marketing at Melbourne University, a colleague - Clive Hall - provided me with a format for solving business problems that moved my results from Cs to As and has served me well ever since. It comprises a statement of the problem; gathering of facts and evidence; identification or creation of alternative solutions; evaluation of those solutions; and a recommendation for action. Forty years later it still seems like a good approach. But is it? ....More
The Marketing Function affects the Whole Business
Many people believe that a business makes its product and then uses sophisticated sales techniques to sell it to an unsuspecting consumer at the highest price possible. The market just does not work that way; customers determine what will be made. The first function of business is to find out what the customer wants, when he wants it, how he wants it delivered and how much he is prepared to pay. A business is forever assessing the market’s changing needs and assessing whether they can deliver them economically. This is the marketing function and it permeates all that the business does. ....More
Innovation is the Life Blood of a Business
An important function of business is to be continually looking to improve the goods and services that it provides; to innovate. We commonly think of innovation in terms of major discoveries and changes; penicillin, the airplane, television, the PC, the mobile phone, etc. These are just some of the obvious examples. Innovation happens in myriads of small ways in millions of businesses every day. ...More
An important function of business is to use all the resources that it brings to bear in the most efficient way. It is forever seeking to improve its productivity. In the Industrial Revolution, productivity improvements were achieved by using machines to do what had previously been done by manual labour. In China, we have seen huge increases in productivity over the past twenty years as peasant farmers came to the cities to undertake manufacturing work. ...More
Subsidiarity is the principle of devolving decisions to the lowest practical level, that what individuals are able to do, society should not take over, and what smaller societies can do, larger societies should not take over. It facilitates a wider range of solutions, quicker and more informed decision making, and greater involvement of more citizens. There is less chance of one bad decision causing a systemic failure and less opportunity for moral hazard.
We do whatever we can ourselves, with our family, with our friends and neighbours. We form voluntary organizations so that like-minded citizens can achieve their common objectives. We keep government activity as local as possible, jointly funding only those activities that the group agree to be valuable, keeping citizens closely involved in what is relevant to them. . ... More
Money Doesn't Grow on Trees
My mother used to say: “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” It was a common phrase for those who grew up during the Great Depression; they understood the virtue of thrift. They knew the importance of saving and investment. But now, politicians and economists know better. They are much better educated and more sophisticated than my mother ever was. They are disciples of John Maynard Keynes. ... More
In Praise of Family Business
In his 1954 classic, "The Practice of Management", Peter Drucker wrote that the purpose of a business is to create customers. It is a wonderful insight.
In contrast, the nightly fare on "A Current Affair" or "Today Tonight" always includes stories about businessmen who are ripping off their unsuspecting customers - overcharging, or providing dodgy products, or charging for services not supplied. ...More
Prosperity and the Value of Intellectual Capital
Prosperity is dependent on economic, cultural and institutional factors. The economic factors include entrepreneurship; the division of labour, specialization and co-operation; competitive markets, a willingness to trade; the accumulation of capital and improving its productivity through technology; and investments in knowledge. The cultural factors include our attitudes to the dignity of work; our willingness to use the talents of all our citizens; the importance of reputation and trust; and the acceptance of urbanization. The institutional factors include property rights; the rule of law; the separation of powers; commercial contracts and a judicial system to enforce them; banking and communication systems etc. ....More