While this segment is called The Craft Age and craft culture, I’m not sure that “Craft Age” is an appropriate term. Since the very first human struck two rocks together to make a sharp edge, we’ve been making things by hand.
Craft manufacturing is just that. Making things by hand, with or without the aid of tools. Crafts people are often called artisans and they make unique pieces of work to trade.
The success or failure of a crafts person depended upon functional quality. If the product didn’t do what the customer needed it to do, or if it failed to last as long as the customer thought it should, then the craftsman probably couldn’t stay in business.
In the middle ages, when more people began migrating and congregating in villages, towns, and cities, the craftsmen would band together to form a guild, whose purpose was to protect the craft. They would restrict entry into certain professions, and define training requirements, from apprentice, to journeyman, to master.
The culture surrounding this economic system depended heavily on understanding value from the customer’s perspective, and on development of expertise by the craftsman. That’s the only way to guarantee quality.
These three characteristics – value, mastery, and quality – live on today. A quick visit to Etsy.com will show you how strong craft manufacturing remains.
On the down side though is availability. When your business model focuses on making exactly what the customer wants, and your financial situation doesn’t allow you to speculate it’s impossible to have a product “in stock.”
When today we have Amazon Now delivering products to us in 2 hours, that tells you that people have lost patience except for some special purposes. While once we were content to wait for that customized quality good to be made just for me, now we’re not.
And the cost doesn’t help. Manufacturing products by hand is expensive.
As population centers grew and taxed the capacity of the craft guilds to satisfy the demand of the population, inventive people go to work to speed production and lower costs. We’ll talk about a few of them over the next couple of days.
Now the challenge is to get exactly what we want and at the cost we’re willing to pay – the value problem; and to get it to work just as we need it to work – the quality problem.
Have a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow.