Some self-proclaimed business guru once said if you’re successful, it is time to change. The idea of course is that you have to be permanently dissatisfied in order to get better. Sounds good, right?
Or does it?
The example he gave was Toyota and something about their rising sun or sun rising or whatever. (These business gurus should leave poetry to poets. What is a business guru anyway? Sounds like something you might need antibiotics for.) Anyways, I guess this is the Toyota corporate motto, mission statement or something you hang on the wall in any case.
Hmm, this all sounds really good, for making billions of dollars of profit, that is. But is this good real world advice? Is not permanent dissatisfaction why some people take their own lives? If California gets wind of this, I can hear all the therapists saying, “You're far too successful Ken, it’s time to do away with yourself.” Really, is that the way YOU want to live your life? In a state of constant dissatisfaction?
Reliability is a worthy goal. Please don’t get me wrong. However, the automobiles that we have loved the most (and yes at times hated, which is true in all things of passion) were never by any means reliable. But what they lacked in reliability they more then made up for in personality.
My wife still speaks fondly of driving through the hazardous winter roads of British Columbia in her 6 volt ’56 VW oval, and I often recall the adventures in my old VW bus like it was a scene out of Arlo Guthrie's "Alice’s Restaurant".
In South America we were the proud owners of a 1977 Gurgel X-12 Jeep, a wonderful companion who needed to be cared for and listened to. Her peculiarities were not engineering faults, but rather part of her robust character, her way of communicating with the owner. Now computers do all that. Pretty soon we will all be like the Borg. I don’t want to drive a computer and I don’t want to be isolated from the road, and frankly I don’t want reliability if it sacrifices personality just for the sake of billion dollar profits.
Think of the hand built cars of long ago that were made of steel, wood, and leather. Cars that actually had something in common with workmanship instead of Rubbermaid. They were works of art. Being permanently dissatisfied is taking us down the wrong road. Being permanently dissatisfied with their fat profits fuels the current trend of big car makers merging into even bigger car makers. When will it end? Hopefully their own permanent dissatisfaction will cause them to self-destruct and do away with themselves. For once, I would like to see a corporate motto that says: Don’t change, stay original — be happy.