The Tyranny and Beauty of Size

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There certainly are economies of scale. It can be very helpful to buy in bulk. But the bigger you get, the more complex and convoluted things can become.

For example, after Sonlight got started, my mom and dad pretty much did everything. You can read more of the story of the early days of Sonlight, but if something needed to be done, my parents would just make it happen.

As Sonlight grew, so did the need for more resources. That's when diseconomies of scale come into play. You can't just add a second person to your team and be twice as effective. Now you have to meet and discuss, divvy up responsibility, communicate vision. Bring on more people and it takes longer. This also requires oversight and management, time devoted to helping your team work together, a person to make sure it all comes together in the end.

And that's the trade off: One person can instantly address a handful of requests. But you can't serve very many people that way. So you have to grow. But in so doing, things take longer. You can serve more people, but it's much more involved.

As an example, I just got out of a meeting where we discussed how we can best serve those waiting on our back-ordered packages. When it was just my mom and dad, they would come up with an idea and it was done. Today, we can't do that.

But we can serve more people than my parents could on their own. I've often heard the term of "turning the ship" to indicate how long it takes a large group of people to make any kind of change. A small kayak allows one person to make a major course change immediately. But if you want to do something that will affect, say, hundreds of passengers, that craft can't be nearly as nimble.

Sonlight has always been--and continues to be--dedicated to serving you on your homeschooling journey. As we've pioneered and championed the literature-based approach to learning, many people have jumped on board... so we built a bigger boat <smile>.

But now it takes longer to make things happen. We're still nowhere near a faceless giant corporation--and we don't want to become that--but we're not exactly a mom and pop shop anymore. That's both good and bad. Bad because things take longer because every decision affects many people. Good because we can serve you and your friends, and their friends, and that family down the street, the missionaries in that country over there...

This has been big year for us. Not just in all the updates and changes we've made to our curriculum. We also released more information earlier than ever. But we learned a lot about how to do that as well. And every year provides new challenges and opportunities. We are so grateful for the opportunity we have to serve you. And we're also grateful for your patience as we learn and grow.

I think we can see similar benefits and disadvantages in homeschooling and educational institutions, mega churches and house gatherings, assembly line cars and handmade custom vehicles, respected electronic brands and the repair shop on the corner, even preparing food for your spouse and a neighborhood picnic.

Thank you for coming along with us on this journey. We're thrilled to be part of your homeschooling adventure.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

P.S. Does "economies of scale" fascinate you? If so, check out Sonlight's Economics Program. There's much to learn about economic theory and how it applies to our lives!

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