Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

TIMEasia Magazine: Clans on the Run

Posted by shannonclark on February 16, 2004

TIMEasia Magazine: Clans on the Run

One of the best articles on business – anywhere – I’ve seen in a very long time. In this case it is TIMEasia Magazine and the topic is the family’s of Asian businesses. Most notable to me so far is the family that has been running the same construction firm (specializing in temples) for 1400 years.

As a writer, this type of stuff is inspiring. As a thinker on networks I suspect we all have a thing or two to learn from these families. As the founder of a business myself, I can only barely contemplate what type of company it takes to be providing service 1400+ years later (the temple they built in the 500’s they have rebuilt 7 times).

Consider for a moment what a 1000 year garuntee is. In America it takes you back to Peublos. There are a few institutions in Europe that come close, the Roman Catholic Church, the Greek Orthodox church, some monastaries, a few churches, no current dynstasties that I’m aware of, and certainly no firms that I know of – though I have read of restaurants in Italy in cellars that were built by Romans. In the Middle east there are families that trace themselves back to the Prophet, the Armenian religion is quite old, and there are certainly buildings in Istanbul and Jerusalem that are ancient, but consider just how long and how much change happens in 1000 years.

Now imagine that the same family manages to run a company for that long, continuing to be in basically the same business, adapting to changes all that time, but servicing the same sets of clients for centuries and even millenium. Very amazing and worthy of not just respect but study and contemplation.

In my own business of writing software it is hard to imagine what that will mean just a few years from now, let alone decades and centuries is almost mind boggling.

But it points out that probably what needs to be thought about it not the tools that are used, but the purpose. In the case of the family described here, they have a fairly timeless primary product – wood temples.

What then is my company’s timeless product? A question I will ponder and strive to answer.


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