Good, Fast, Cheap. When You Always Go For The Cheapest Option, Your Options Become Limited

Photo by Michael Competielle

“I’m an engineer. I see myself as a toolmaker and the musicians are my customers… They use my tools.”-Robert Moog

Starting in 1964 Robert Moog began building handmade analog synthesizers that helped revolutionize electronic music. Operating for almost 30 years until the company was sold in 1993 Moog synthesizers were synonymous with warm analog tone. The company closed and the assets were warehoused and eventually auctioned off. 

Bob purchased back the rights to the Moog name and again began hand-building analog synthesizers in 2002. After 55 years the legacy of Bob Moog continues.

Musicians from Wendy Carlos to Keith Emerson to Trent Reznor have composed brilliant music thanks to the unique sound Moog synthesizers generate. 

While the hand-built quality of a Moog is second to none they are also known to be very expensive. Due to the manufacturing process and time it takes to build each model, they are generally stock items often in limited quantities. 

The Project Management Iron Triangle

Each side of the project management triangle is labeled cost, scope and time or alternatively cheap, fast and good. Dating back to the 1950s the theory has been utilized in project and product management as a metrics tool. Reduce the cost of a product and the quality or speed will be affected. Increase the budget and the quality or speed will increase. 

A simple formula that works in most scenarios. 

Why Going Cheap First Limits Your Options

When you make purchasing decisions primarily on price alone you will affect the quality or time it takes to make your product. When we always base our decisions based purely on cost or cost savings we are limiting one of the two remaining options. Fast and cheap will yield a product of decreased quality. 

With an overabundance of cheap goods on our store’s shelves, it doesn’t take much expertise to determine the quality of the products are generally of lesser quality. 

Where The Gap Is Closing 

With manufacturing firmly planted overseas cheaper goods are being produced with an increase in quality and quantities that argue that the theory of the Iron Triangle is a fallacy. The fact of the matter is that is untrue when you look at the product in its entirety. 

Are the employees manufacturing the goods being paid a fair living wage? Probably not. What about the acquisition of the product’s raw materials? Certainly a place to cut a few corners. And what about the environmental impact of the decreased wages, sourced materials, wastes and environmental impact of transportation. 

Most of these reductions are hidden from the consumer and are only highlighted when you do some research. 

Buying cheap is certainly not the correct answer to obtaining the best products. Quality products that last longer and built with care and consideration of the product’s societal and environmental impact are clearly the better choice regardless of price. 

Buying products that can be resold, traded or gifted away when we no longer need them will help to reduce wasting resources. Quality products require a qualified workforce to manufacture, service and repair. By reducing the number of products we consume we can afford to pay more of higher quality products. 

Shopping for products off the buy it for life list is a great start. On the list are products that may not be the cheapest but certainly are of the highest quality and availability. 

Buy better, buy less. Sell, trade or gift unneeded products to reduce consumer demand. With a reduced need for quantities and a willingness to pay a bit more, manufacturing will adjust to the demand which will be quality. The primary reason we should be purchasing any products at all. 

Author: mtcwriter

Michael Competielle is a Creative Designer specializing in Sound, Brand and Experiential Design.

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