Product, Production, Potential

To survive one has to provide certain things and fend certain other things. And none of them falls out of the sky. Even air has to be inhaled, and water has to be found and brought home.

To produce means to bring into existence what did not exist before, and survival depends completely upon production.

Products, services and labour all fall within the above definition: it is true that a product is a tangible asset, a service an intangible asset, and labour that special form of service that makes the other two possible, but their common denominator is that they are all survival factors brought into existence: a product is a desirable thing, and service a desirable condition, that did not exist before; labour is a potential for labour that is turned into the applied labour that produces them.

A loaf of bread is usually called a ‘product’, while the same loaf of bread delivered somewhere is usually called a ‘service’; this distinction is just a minor detail, as both of them, the baking and the delivery, are actually products: ‘something brought into existence’. The difference between the drinking water deeply buried somewhere and the same water pouring out of your tap is a product: water brought home.

Last, but not at all least, no production can occur unless there is potential for production. There are resources and constraints: it has been said that any game consists of freedoms, barriers and goals; freedoms are what one can do, barriers what one cannot do, and goals are why one takes advantage of freedoms to overcome barriers. The goal is survival, the freedoms are the resources – what is useful, available and usable to survive –, the barriers are the constraints – what restricts, hinders or threatens survival –. Compiling a list of such resources is an instructive exercise; one just has to locate each and every item sharing the peculiarity that in its absence survival cannot occur, even though everything else is there.