If you have ever had the pleasure of tasting Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, you know it is always a gratifying experience. I often wonder how those people can crank out flavor after flavor. It seems as if they always get it right. Well, how do they do it?
What makes them so successful is their ability to come up with an idea and then present it to their taste-testers and then to the public testers. If there are enough people who like the ice cream, the new product then is considered for production.
The concept of taking an idea and getting the right people to taste it or try it out is not a new concept. It is one that is used in just about every industry. If someone creates a new type of paint, they will try to present it to interior designers and painters to see if it is worth mass-producing their new paint. Before GM, Ford and other auto makers begin to mass produce their cars, it is first considered a “concept” car. The car is then created and exhibited at auto shows; research data is collected and studied. The car is then driven on a test track by professional drivers, driven under normal conditions and even crashed to see how it works. This is all done in an effort to create the right product.
Now what if we in the African-American community applied this simple concept of getting the right people to test or address the issues that affect them the most?
Let’s look at it like this. One of the most influential people, next to Mayor Daley, in Chicago is Jerry Roper. Mr. Roper is the president of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. You could say he is responsible for bringing businesses to Chicago, which in turn means jobs and more tax revenue. When Mayor Daley announced he was trying to get the International Olympic Committee to choose Chicago as the site for the 2016 Olympics, he held a press conference with members of Chicago’s business community. There was Mr. Roper along with senior executives of Boeing, Allstate and other business professionals. I wondered why the Mayor did not call the Olympic press conference with preachers, rabbis and social service directors. It seems that every time there is an issue in the black community, there he stands with our great social/faith leaders. I wonder what would have happened if all of the faith leaders had been standing with the Mayor for the Olympic bid announcement. I can tell you he is smarter than that. It would have made him the laughingstock of the whole world. No one would have taken him seriously.
So why, when it comes to community issues that face business owners, do we turn only to our faith leaders and social service representatives? I wonder what would happen if you spoke to men like Mr. Alexander (Macs Restaurants) about how to sustain an African-American-owned business. What answers would he give? What about having Uncle Remus to speak with us on being a longstanding pillar, hiring and creating opportunities for our people. The list goes on and on, with men and women who can direct through their experience and give suggestions for a more prosperous community.
The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again expecting different results. So how about we consider the concept of letting the painters paint, the social service reps handle social needs, and consider business owners when we need someone to handle our business.
Getting the right people to do the right job is not a new concept.