The Project Triangle says: for any given project, you can only realistically achieve two out of the three factors.

An outcome can be fast and good, but not cheap. Or fast and cheap, but not good. Or cheap and good, but not fast.

Can China give the world all three?

"When companies from low-cost countries ... start to combine their low-cost mentality with creativity and innovation, the result is ... a small, quick player with the potential to be frighteningly effective." -- Fredrick Haren in The Developing World.

It does sound like having it all doesn’t it? Cheap, fast and good. So what gives? Surely there is no such thing as a free lunch. And certainly not for long anyway.

I reckon the hidden costs are: crappy work-life balance for workers, increasing gap between the rich and the poor, more waste (from production in the form of increased mistakes from doing things fast and in greater volumes, from consumption turnover as people flock to buy even more cheap and good throwaways).

When you appear to have it all – Cheap-Fast-Good – sustainability (of the business and the environment) and ethics must necessarily take a backseat. Cheap is not really cheap! The real cost is borne by the workers and by our descendants!