What do SONY, Microsoft, Nintendo, and now Steam have in common?

If you thought they all have a modern video game system, you’re wrong.  While MSFT, Nintendo, and Steam have new “current gen gaming systems,” SONY has created the future of home entertainment systems instead of just a video game box.  The separation must be clear for the future as the 4K TV generation and Oculus Rift begin entering our homes.

While MSFT has been focusing on strategically advertising it’s video games at specific times (zombie games during The Walking Dead series – perfect timing and audience but this is no secret), SONY has been creating commercials that immerse the individual INTO the world of its’ entertainment system.  You become the driver in Gran Turismo, you become the Dragonborn, and you become the soldier with infinite bullets and lives.

MSFT is great at creating a great online multiplayer experience for it’s XBOX users, which is good if they can keep pumping out Call of Duty’s, FIFA’s, and Battlefields.  However, Sony has been setting the PS4 up as a necessity in every home as your go to source for entertainment.

Even though Microsoft will probably still win in terms of it’s online multiplayer service (which still seems to be a major focus today) I feel Sony’s overall strategy may be more sound into the future with a major focus on creating a social community.  It will provide the great multiplayer experience, and then add on top of it.  Just take a look at the new Playstation Home which is basically a modern day sims or GTA V without all the violence, a place to go once gamers get bored of gaming and want to fake interact.  Now I’m not a supporter of social interaction alone in your own home through a medium.  However I do see why and how some people may need or enjoy this, especially with the systems audience.

What Sony has created isn’t just a great entertainment system, but it is also a tool of study.  Sony’s overall strategy with Playstation Plus, together with all of its’ new features is going to be a way to study behavior, and economics of a virtual world which may provide a wealth of knowledge to the real world.  While Microsoft may be putting out statistics on how many bullets are shot in an hour of CoD, Sony will be able to provide statistics on the spending patterns of consumers thus enabling greater future profits, for themselves and anyone else willing to pay for this sort of information.

Microsoft will probably be good at allowing a person to play the same 3 types of games (racing, shooting, and sports) with lots of people somewhat successfully.  Sony on the other hand is creating a virtual universe that can be a topic of economic and behavioral study.

TWoNM: Intro

Reading the introduction to “TWoN,” I came across one important question: How do small tribal villages in third world African countries function (or anywhere hunting/gathering life is still the norm), and whether an economics or entrepreneurial class would provide more benefit visiting these villages than future potential med schooler’s?

What would be better than having a group of business and economics students visit a tribe, and come up with a strategy that may help boost their productivity?  “Let’s see here, this tribe was 10 miles away from this tribe, but could be trading with this other tribe 7 miles away, thus decreasing travel by 30% and allowing more time for hunting and gathering, and at the same time, this kid is an inventor always making stuff out of bones and sticks, let’s tell the leader to make sure he never has to go hunting.”  Rather than “All these kids are so poor, let me take pictures to post on the web and show the world how poor they are and let the doctor I came with give them some medicine that they will not be able to reproduce in a thousand years.”  Regardless, I understand there are probably more issues keeping these tribes from prospering such as government policies and even choice?

**As a side note, I hope not to insult anyone from African since I am specifically talking about the tribes.  I know Africa is not a country, and that many cities within each country of Africa may be just as well off as any other nation, with everything including internet and running water.  However, please understand the audience of this blog will be mostly American’s who may have a better picture of what I’m saying

This question came about when reading the introduction to “TWoN” where Smith talks about the employment of labor in both advanced nations and “savage (hut living, hunting and gathering) nations.”  The amount that a nation produces is going to determine how much its’ citizens can consume, which is based on the amount of those citizens employed in useful labor (paraphrased from the book itself).  For the sake of this post, let’s assume that a tribe leader wants to see his village prosper.  Sure he could use medicine to keep his people alive longer, but he needs resources, people, and labor to do that which isn’t acquired by medicine, but by business, and an understanding of economics.

Adam Smith uses the phrase “employed in useful labor.”  He notes that those living in savage nations as hunters and fishers are usually all employed in useful labor, yet will neglect those who may be a burden (children, elderly, and sick).  How come in a prospering nation, even the poorest can have all of these things and then some, all while not being employed?

Through the rest of the chapter Smith outlines the rest of the book by making the reader ask questions:

“How and why do different nations decide to employ their labor?”  Example: Europe favoring arts and commerce over agriculture, but why?

“How does wealth become distributed?”

“How do you convince your citizens to all contribute, and also how should a nation spend it’s money?”

“How do private interests, and politics affect decisions of how to employ labor?”

I hope to have answers to many of these questions, and find ways they are applied, by the time I finish this series.

Not just the “why” of strategy, the “five whys”

Wolski Strategic Consulting

Originally created in the Toyota Corporation by Sakichi Toyoda as part of the Toyota Production System, the five whys is a simple yet effective tool for driving to the root cause of an issue.  In utilizing the five whys, state the issue and then ask “Why?”  Once you have a satisfactory answer, again ask “Why?” to the answer.  Repeat asking “why” until you have discovered the root cause.  Generally speaking asking “why” five times is sufficient to determine the root cause.  For example, 1.) Why was the wrong product shipped to the customer?  Because the sku in the catalog was incorrect.  2.) Why was the sku incorrect?  Because the error wasn’t caught in final proofing.  3.) Why wasn’t the error caught in proofing?  Because too few people are part of the proofing process.  4.) Why are too few people part of the proofing process?  Because the draft was delivered late…

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Blog more, edit more, write less (unless it’s fiction).

It’s New Years Resolution time, which means it’s time to change something you could have done months ago.  Ok, wait, that’s somewhat cynical.  Sometimes people just don’t have a moment to really reflect until this time of year.  Another way you could see it is the time of year to have the courage to find flaws in yourself, and work on improving them.  Recently I found a flaw in many of my posts: overwriting.  After doing some research, I came to the conclusion overwriting in my blog posts is an egotistical habit.  I found that I would write so much about a topic because I thought I knew it all, and I wanted the reader to think I knew it all.  I would overwrite because I believed all my thoughts were important to the reader, and they aren’t.  Descriptive posts are best left for fiction, and if it’s not fiction then where does it leave the reader to question your points and ideas?

I will continue to try and blog more to broaden my audience.  I will try to make my posts shorter with less descriptions unless I write a fiction. 

What is approximately 3.5 feet wide, 7 feet long, and can generate a great profit for restaurants?

A Sushi Bar.

I was inspired to blog about this after learning about a successful American chain in South Florida that has come to embrace this Japanese concept: Quarterdeck Restaurants.  Before we discuss them, let’s first take a look at some numbers.

One of the most common items sold at just about any sushi restaurant is the California Roll.  With all of its’ ingredients: seaweed, rice, rice vinegar, cucumber, avocado, imitation krab sticks, cream cheese, wasabi, ginger, soy sauce, and the sushi chef, this roll can be made for under $1.50.  Now let’s look at the average selling price: 5$.  Higher end restaurants can probably tack on an extra 2-5$ or more if they really wanted to.  That’s over 300% profit!  This is excluding sashimi and sushi a-la-carte items.  Also toss in the fact that the dishes are not made to be filling (compared to a burger and fries or other large entree) and the customer will probably end up ordering at least two.

Unfortunately, there is a problem of there being too many sushi restaurants in certain parts of the states.  In Florida there are often as many as 10 sushi restaurants within 5 miles of each other, and more locations than Burger King and McDonalds combined.  All this competition means all the restaurants must do something “different” to survive, and many are.  Many of them are a mix between Japanese Sushi and Thai, Chinese, or Korean food.  This is where Quarterdeck restaurants comes in.

Quarterdeck restaurants has done something very unique, fusing two very different cultures/cuisines and turned it into their own, unique dining experience.  You could say “ok that’s easy, just put sushi on my menu.”  No.  In fact, they are even doing sushi better than many other sushi restaurants.  After a small discussion with some of the chefs, and tasting their food, I found that they actually use higher quality products (fish, rice, wasabi, etc…) than many other sushi places.

Walking in to one of their locations, you will notice that the the menu items, employee dress code, and even the sushi bar all feel like they belong.  Everything blends together very nicely to create an atmosphere for people who live for the beach, the ocean, or yachting.  That is their company culture.  It seems they have even begun to expand the menu to add other typically Asian cuisines like Egg Rolls (with Lobster); using higher quality ingredients than those in traditional Chinese restaurants.  Reading the typically Asian dishes on the menu did not make me feel like I was ordering something foreign.  Instead it felt like I was ordering a unique dish that this restaurant came up with that couldn’t be found anywhere else.

Some places may sell both Japanese food, and Chinese food separately, then call themselves fusion; Quarterdeck successfully came up with delicious dishes that blended both American and Asian cuisines, in an environment that is also very welcoming to the locals.

Compare this to another nearby restaurant with a similar theme that also tries implementing sushi, and we’ll just call them “qwerty.”  First, and foremost, qwerty doesn’t even have a sushi bar, they just sell raw seafood and sushi.  Qwerty has a guy in the back making sushi because it’s on the menu.  Perhaps this is all part of their strategy, but it shows qwerty probably doesn’t really care or know much about sushi.  Sushi chef’s are traditionally center stage, as the customers watch them slice their fish, decorate the plate with a fanned out cucumber or orange slice, and mold the rice into a perfect shape to rest the fish upon.  Regulars come to chat with these sushi chefs, and get to know them on a first name basis talking to them about anything from sports to family.  Even the less social sushi chefs still have something to offer to their audience.  If a qwerty knew this, they would not just have a guy making sushi in the back corner of the kitchen.

As restaurateurs, businessmen, and entrepreneurs, the group running Quarterdeck is setting a trend.  A trend that brings cultures together.  A trend of true fusion that sets them apart from other businesses.  What’s more is that they have done all this in a welcoming, neighborhood restaurant where families may feel comfortable enjoying something exotic.