Re: Business

From: Brock Hinzmann (
Date: Thu Jan 23 1997 - 02:37:39 EET

        Reply to: RE>Business

In response to the recent turn of conversation from making skulls to making
profits, I enclose some rather long and probably not well enough thought out
opinions about profit, the economy, the meaning of small, and what they mean
to RP.

 A lot of people see the RP industry as one that has the potential to become
really big, especially as a link between cyberspace and the physical world. If
it does, I imagine someone will make a lot of profit. I don't think most
people have a problem with that.

In addition, many people, who see RP as a wonderful way to change how people
live in the world and to change the way in which physical products are made
and distributed around the world, may be willing to forego a little profit now
for something even more grand in the future. It reminds me a little of the
personal computer industry in the late 1970s, when several dozen firms were
competing for the relatively small market. Some were out to change the world.
However, all were out to make a profit. Almost none of them survive today. I
believe it is Peter Drucker who has argued that if you subtract all the losses
from all the profits, the net is zero, or something to that effect. I haven't
heard anyone complain that Steve Wozniak made a profit.

The economy is a system for supplying the needs and wants of a society (note
that needs are fairly basic; wants can be anything). That society can have
whatever dimensions you may want to put on it (such as the Amish, the state of
California, the United States, the European Union, the World), but the way in
which you describe it (capitalist, socialist, communist, and so forth) relates
to the extent to which the government intervenes to control it and guide the
profit for some perceived greater benefit to the well being of the society.
(Perhaps some of the legal clashes in the RP industry are due to differing
perceptions of economy and what is good for society.) To the extent you remove
personal gain from the economic system, you reduce the incentive for most
people to participate, no matter how grand the ideal. Many people believe the
Soviet economy collapsed from lack of profit incentive and some people believe
increasing polarization of haves and have nots in capitalist societies may
also be dangerous. Who should have access to RP technology and who should not?
Who should have access to the best possible medical care and who should not?

The type of advice that people normally are able to get from the RP Mailing
List indicates a willingness on the part of the participants to share
information that is otherwise relatively expensive to acquire on your own or
from a consultant (as someone who works for a consulting organization, I am
not insulting consultants, in this case). In other words, everyone commenting
on this mailing list has made a decision to give away whatever advice they
volunteer, rather than trying to profit by providing it only to the highest

The Clinton comment probably was taken out of context. I didn't see/hear it
either, but I interpreted Terry's use of it to mean:

Nothing grand ever comes from being petty.

The RP industry may be relatively small, but the string of conversations that
led to this Business topic certainly showed it is far from petty.

Keep up the grand thoughts.

Brock Hinzmann
Business Intelligence Center
SRI International
In response to Karl Denton, Terry Wohlers wrote:

>That goes without saying. Profiting from this effort in any way goes
>against its very spirit. As President Clinton said in yesterday's
>inauguration speech, "Nothing big ever comes from being small."

Business revolves around one basic premise: Making a profit by helping
people get what they want. The so-called "spirit" of this charity proj-
ect is pristine because it is not grouped with the hundreds of other
cases just like it. If several of these cases appeared on this list
each week would their "spirit" dictate that there should be no profit
made from them? Or does it make more sense to deal with the insurance
company, as at least one person offered, and help these people WHILE
making a profit? If someone works with an insurance company to help
them realize the value of an RP model for a particular case, then some
very good things happen: the insurance company is more aware of the
importance of RP, coding may be established for RP models, the service
bureau (or whomever) has perpetuated the premise of good business, the
people in need are not in a situation where they have to pay a bunch of
money for the service, etc. If we simply do all of these types of pro-
jects (and there will be more of them) for free, have we not missed out
on some opportunities?; and the chance to help a broader range of

And as for Clinton's feel-goody quote, "Nothing big ever comes from
being small," the first thing that comes to my mind is, "Oh please..."
First of all, virtually everything "big" in this great nation started
with something small. And while I realize that I may be neglecting the
context, (forgive me, but I did not watch the $32,000,000 party) I think
we must remember that there is a much-to-large faction of government that
looks on in disgust as businesses make money and then turn around and tax
the hell out of the profit--calling any tax breaks "corporate welfare."
(And then spew confusing, elevated-sounding quotes.)

There is NO reason for business people to be embarassed for making
money for their services--in this case or any other.

Before I get flamed too badly, let me make these comments:

*There is a BIG difference between making a profit by helping someone in
need and making a killing by taking advantage of another's misfortune.

*I think charity work is good--for all parties involved. And I think we
need to be careful not to condemn anyone who can find a way to achieve
the same results WHILE promoting good business practices and making a
profit. (Profits that help to fund research for new technological

*There is a broad range of people on this RP list with varying views.
These are mine and I make no apologies for them.


Daniel Anderson
DePuy Orthopaedics
700 Orthopaedic Drive
Warsaw, IN 46581-0988

"I take unanimity on any difficult topic as a danger sign."
  - P. J. Plaugher

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