In the last week I have been exposed to many great examples of the concept of "what you can do vs what you should do", and believe it or not there is a significant difference between the two. An example most people can probably identify with would be the example of drinking beer, or eating food. For example I can drink 20 pints of beer, or eat 20 big macs, however the chances are that quite soon after this I would have to spend a short spell in the hospital or perhaps the mortuary.
John Moore at brandautopsy is a previous Starbucks exec, and he gave his opinion on how this "can vs should" theory applies to Starbucks. Starbucks was made famous for its coffee and its service, however in recent years the company has diversified its offerings to hot sandwiches, toys and has even established a record label. Just because Starbucks can use their brand and accrued goodwill to sell these items and make money off them, it doesn’t mean they should. As a result Starbucks has begun to lose focus on what made it the success it is today... THE COFFEE.
Dr. Robert Frank, economist and author of "The Economic Naturalist" discusses the idea of "can vs should" in the academic arena. Passionate about the teaching of the basic of economics, Dr. Frank's research as uncovered that "most students who take introductory economics leave the course without really having learned even the most important economic principles.", adding that "Their ability to answer simple economic questions several months after leaving the course is not measurabley different from that of people who never too the course. (Having taken economics courses I can identify with this. I have learnt more long lasting economic theory from the book “the undercover economist that I did from looking at graphs and mathematical equations)
Again this is down to the "can vs should" decision, in this case being represented by a "How much can I cover today vs How much can my students absorb today".
I find the Can vs Should argument to be one that is often totally ignored in business, marketing and life in general, and although quite basic is something that should always be taken into consideration.