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Unbroken: Break, Repair & Repeat


“Unbroken" can be defined as either having never been broken or, to have been broken and subsequently put back together.
To create a successful product, process or business - one that is truly exquisite - is rare and to be celebrated.
Success is relative and transitory, it exists in a specific context and moment in time. Eventually every achievement will be challenged, it will “break.”
A great accomplishment in want of repair is a significant loss, and a wondrous opportunity.
In Japan, “Tsukuroi” is the art of repair; it is so revered that it is believed to create a new, and possibly higher, form of beauty. The same is true for business.

An artist applying tsukuroi technique to a broken tea cup.




As customer desire, technology, competitive and sourcing environments change, once successful products and business models must evolve and adapt: breakage is to be expected.

Eventual failure is inevitable, a healthy by-product of experimentation and adaptation. It may be argued that more is learned from having been broken and repaired than to never have suffered and overcome “breaking.”
Entire companies can break and un-break. Ford Motor Company broke, and then un-broke. So did FedEx, Disney and Apple.
Bill Gates once said, "Constant success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose."
The question is how to break, learn, adapt, reinvent and become “unbroken.” "Un-broken" is an important business application of tsukuroi: invent, perfect, break, learn, reinvent, and repeat.
2015 will bring accelerated disruption - increased breakage.

Lesson learned. It's ok to break. In 2015, putting it back together, in a new way, is a required skill. Beautiful. Humpty Dumpty never had it this good.
An "un-broken" tsukuroi "repaired" vase
Please share your stories of products, brands, processes and companies that have broken and un-broken.
(c) David J. Katz – New York City, December 23, 2014

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