Saturday, August 1, 2009

The dreaded best practices.

Maybe if you've read this blog closely, and I'm sure at least one person has (me), you've picked up on my mildly anti-corporate attitudes.  So it's strange that I find myself immersed in this little eBay business we have, a business that is minute, even compared to most businesses down on Main Street in Valdese, North Carolina, of all places.  But the money it generates does come in handy, so I'm told.  I have to consult the company VP & Treasurer, Patti Anne, for the particulars.

So lately we've been thinking about "best practices" - a term I knew all too well in my previous life in a cubicle, a term I tossed into a heap with all the other business buzz words, including the term "buzz word", as just another business cliche among hundreds which taken together, ferment an indescribable bitterness in the very essence of my being.  These words and terms are frequently what pass for communication around the conference table.

I'm sorry, I went a way for a minute.  I'm back now.

Anyway we find we're bogged down in details of maintaining our eBay business.   The minutiae cause us to spend less time on the "core business" (bangs head on table), and as far as I'm concerned, the less time we spend on the (argggh) "core business", the less money we make.

The "core business" (from here on out simply known as CB) is obtaining inventory,  all the tasks involved with listing it, and shipping out sold items. That's it.  That is how we make money, everything else is a distraction.  We find we spend hours on other tasks which have to be done, but which are not directly involved in the CB.  So we put our heads together and came up with a plan.  

Some things can't be changed - inventory, once obtained,  has to be organized & stored, for example.  Once an item sells, it has to be retrieved.  That cannot be changed (unless we radically change our, ahem, business model), and may even be considered part of the CB.  Not sure.  At any rate, it takes some time & effort and it has to be done.

But some things can be changed.  And we've identified those areas we can change, where we can save some time.  But everything comes with a price.   Every advantage has a corresponding disadvantage.  It all boils down to sales.  It all boils down to money, and in a few months we'll know if it has made a difference.

Does anyone besides me ever wonder about money?  Where it came from, how it evolved, why does it have value, why does the value change?  Why did civilization develop the way it did so that a few are rich and many are poor?  I read a book called "The History of Money",  and that answered some of my questions.  I now know why "dollar" is a currency name, for example.

The concept of money is very abstract and required a leap of intelligence, understanding, and social organization somewhere along the way.  And it is ingrained.  We'll never get rid of it.  And its basic stuff, even for a little eBay business.  And from here on out, we'll probably be trying to let our thoughts wander aimlessly outside the imagined enclosure (which I always thought of as cardboard, and coming from a U-Haul store)  so perhaps we'll stumble on some even better way of doing things.



Bianca Castafiore said...

All I can figure is that money is a construct, an agreement about value. I keep hoping that we can, therefore, change our minds, and --yes! -- spread the wealth around...

Best practices, shiver. Makes me think of Variations upon Standards (former teacher, here).

linlah said...

oh yes the dreaded BMP and in cali the state does regulate.

A Valdese Blogger said...

Bianca: Dont EVEN get me started on standards. I had CMM & ISO out the ears. Its like a slow death to a person who basically fears paperwork.

linlah: I dont know what BMP is, but it sounds like something I might not care for.

Thanks for your comments.

linlah said...

hmm...oh, well they are "best practices" with a governmental bunch of crudolla thrown in "Best Management Practices", and you wouldn't care for them at all.

A Valdese Blogger said...

linlah: Yikes!