As those who follow this space will know, I’m reviewing a series of books that I view as classics – books that profoundly influenced my thinking. Up today is Stanley Davis’s Future Perfect. It came out in 1987 and, in scanning through it as I write this review, is like a postcard from the future.
I took dozens of lessons from Davis and here I’ll cite four. First, one of Dr. Juran’s lessons advised “distinguish between needs and solutions,” more fully “distinguish between what the customer needs and your solutions to those needs.” It is a deep and abiding lesson.
Davis illustrates Juran’s advice with the story of the consultant who advised Stanley Tools “You are not in the business of selling drills. You are in the business of selling holes.” Brilliant. And so simple. Customers don’t need drills. They need holes!
Second, the future economy belongs to information. Here’s a great quote: “Resources are generally finite, but information is infinite and the greatest value-added in today’s new economy (p.101).” And this, mind you, in 1987. A couple of pages later, he pulls together the observation of the economist Paul Hawken into the equation:
Value of a deliverable = Information/Mass
Wow! Further, the equation hints at the concept of informationalization, one of many ways that organizations can put their data to work and one of two that, in my opinion anyway, they must strongly consider. Note: I’m virtually certain I first heard the informationalization concept from Davis, but I can’t find a reference in Future Perfect.
Finally, the concept of mass customization. In the data space, Davis is simply pointing out that customers should reasonably expect to get it (whatever “it” is) when and how they want it.
Future Perfect is a fast and enduring read. And, if anyone knows of the first reference to informationalization, please let me know.
Next up: Mary Parker Follett’s Prophet of Management