This past spring, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of quality managers, engineers and statisticians in Kingsport, Tennessee, located in the beautiful northeastern part of our state. My wife Diane and I chose to drive and enjoy the Great Smoky Mountains scenery.

On the way home, we stopped at a new home accessory store near Pigeon Forge. At first glance, this establishment appeared to be typical of the outlets and shops found elsewhere along this scenic route. Upon closer inspection, however, this store was similar to a true distributed enterprise – all under one roof. This "store" had many autonomous shops, but they all shared a single centralized sales checkout system.

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