Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Is Sweeping the Floor Production?

[The following is an excerpt from the forthcoming book, Ego Wins! by Ken West, used with permission of the publisher, Better Grip Media LLC.]

Nathan was a new stock boy at a department store. His first assignment, when he arrived forty minutes before the store opened, was to sweep the large sales floor. So he began going up and down each isle with the large mop-like broom. At the end of each isle, he’d shake the mop lightly, as he’d been told, to release some of the dirt for pick up later with a dust pan and brush. 

Nathan was not your average stock boy or store sweeper. He finished the job, but was determined to sweep the floor more efficiently the next time. Midway through the week he had invented a new method for sweeping the floor that was cleaner and faster. He tested it out a few times more before showing his manager. 

It wasn’t too long after that when Nathan was promoted to assistant stock man. Not only had he revolutionized floor sweeping for the store, but had discovered numerous ways to make the stockroom run more efficiently. Within a few years he was manager of his own store. In another seven years he was a highly paid retailing consultant on modernizing retail operations.

In one sense, all labor is a form of production since it is focused on producing a worthwhile result. Production is turning raw materials, intelligence, and action into products or services that people are willing to buy. It is action devoted to creating results. 

It is also creation—creating new combinations of things. Taking materials and rearranging them, moving them, recombining them in new formulations which are then of more value than the original materials.

Production is organized and consistent action in the pursuit of finished products. Even a more efficient way of sweeping the floor becomes a product when intelligence and action are mixed. 

 “Action, if successful, attains the end sought. It produces the product.”
—Ludwig von Mises

“In the last resort all our productive efforts amount to
shiftings and combinations of matter.”
—Eugen von Boehm-Bawerk

 “Physical labor not only does not exclude the possibility of mental activity, but improves and stimulates it.”
—Leo Tolstoy

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