Another cheng / chi sighting

This time in the wild battlefields of strawberry development:

Bjorn, the company’s president, says, “Consumers have to be more satisfied, or what we call more delighted, all the time.” Produce companies tend to be driven by supply: what they grow, they try to sell. Driscoll’s, conversely, sees itself as a consumer-products company. According to Bjorn, “We create the demand …”

The company is Driscoll’s “a fourth-generation family business, says that it controls roughly a third of the six-billion-dollar U.S. berry market, including sixty per cent of organic strawberries, forty-six per cent of blackberries, fourteen per cent of blueberries, and just about every raspberry you don’t pick yourself.”

Produce is war, and it is won by having something beautiful-looking to sell at Costco when the competition has only cat-faced uglies.

In other words, they meet customer expectations for flavor and appearance (that would be cheng) but then figure out how to add something special and unexpected — something that delights (the chi).  This could be a new variety as a result of their high powered R&D effort, or perhaps a tinkering of a currently seasonal variety to make it available year round, in 49 countries. The result, as the man said, and as it usually is: “We create the demand.”  The Steve Jobs of Strawberries?

Boyd, paraphrasing Sun Tzu, put it this way on Patterns chart 13: “Employ cheng and ch’i maneuvers to quickly and unexpectedly hurl strength against weaknesses.” Driscoll’s use of this concept, inadvertent as it might, perhaps, be isn’t an analogy. It’s the exact same concept applied to a different sphere of competition.

Read the complete article, “How Driscoll’s Reinvented the Strawberry” by Dana Goodyear in August 21, 2017 edition of The New Yorker.

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One thought on “Another cheng / chi sighting

  1. “Driscoll’s use of this concept, inadvertent as it might, perhaps, be isn’t an analogy. It’s the exact same concept applied to a different sphere of competition.”

    Same concept, but, as I believe you have suggested before, a sphere of competition isn’t a sphere of war. Civil war is a competition, because both sides are going to survive, in some shape or form.

    In war only one side will survive, unless there is a complete structural, cultural and ethical change in you, or your competition.

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