Sunday, April 11, 2010


Reader and friend Dr. Mark sent a link to this visual from FlowingData. It's a dynamic presentation showing the growth of WalMart and Sam's Club, from a single store in Arkansas in 1962 to a retail giant. It's impressive. And it adds meaning to the term "exponential".

The final image reminded me of something I saw on Chartporn. Also an impressive outcome, but definitely not as much fun to watch as the FlowingData link. Thanks Dr. Mark.


TheTeetor said...

Is it the time period? the management? simply luck? What is it that allows these companies to sky rocket?

Tim Schilling said...

This is going to come across kind of lame, but I think all of those are contributing factors.

But I put the biggest factors as time period and management. The time period provided opportunities for rapid expansion, followed by periods where their market niche of price-quality was able to exploit downturns in the economy at large.

The management I include, but only if you include upper management in the mix. For both WalMart and McDonalds, upper management has had an entrepreneurial bent - doing some of what Schumpeter said entrepreneurs do:
introduce new product,
using new or different inputs to produce a product,
introduction of new technology or process,
opening new markets,
and create new economic organizations.

I think other arguments can be made, but I think times and management stand out for me.

TheTeetor said...

You mentioned new products, inputs, and technologies. Can it really be this simple that to get out of a rut, or to grow to the next level a company can rethink and come up with a new idea and they're on their way? Is there a limit to how much "new" the world can have?

Tim Schilling said...

The Teetor,

To your question "Can it really be this simple...", I don't think that what I said is simple, especially when it comes to entrepreneurial activity.

And to your question "Is there a limit to how much 'new' the world can have?" My only response has been, there hasn't been, so far. There have been times in the past when humans thought there was nothing more to invent or discover. We've always been wrong.