It was a dark and stormy night… The wind howled through the skeletal branches of the trees… ghosts, goblins and other monsters scampered along the street… the full moon shone brightly, yet all the streets seemed dim and darkened and you were wary about what might bump into you in the night…
Yeah, yeah, yeah. OK, so it’s warm, a bit breezy and mostly sunny. At least it is in most of Southern California. But it seemed just wrong to start off a blog on Halloween with something so … so … cheerful.
I was thinking, on this warm and sunny October day – that Halloween is the PERFECT version of the supply chain. Honestly, think about it… And think about how many different supply chains may be involved…!
But the basic one – “TRICK OR TREAT” – the art of hitting up the neighborhood – is a perfect example of a simple – yet WILDLY effective – supply chain.
* you put on some clothes (a costume),
* you walk down the street,
* you ring a doorbell and yell “TRICK OR TREAT!” ,
* and the person gives you some candy (or other great treat)…!
How much simpler and easier is that supply chain?!? Nothing to do but get dressed up on some costume – whether a simple sheet with some eye-holes – boo! I’m a ghost! – or something more … frightening – like a vampire, or a witch – or even more elaborate – donning a fully body suit of hair and becoming a werewolf. Simple. Easy. Effective.
Then, of course, there are a number of other supply chains involved, as well. There’s the candy that you get from each house – somebody had to buy that at some store… And that store had to buy it from some candy maker. And they had to buy the ingredients to make the wonderful confection from someplace. There’s the costume you wear – that store had to buy it… and the rest is just like the above.
But Halloween is a perfect example of what a supply chain SHOULD be – simple – easy – effective. Not a lot of fuss and bother to contend with. Sure, you can get elaborately fancy and create a foam-rubber body suit that turns you into Godzilla (or some other monster) or you can do the easy simple “sheet-over-the-head” trick and be a ghost. You can make your own “home grown” solution – pulling parts and bits from the closets and drawers – or you can buy the cheap, moderate or expensive solution from the dealer down the road.
So, thinking about it that way – do you see the similarities between Halloween Trick-or-treating and your supply chain…? Which did you choose – simple or … elaborate?
But, unlike Halloween, the supply chain needs to be in place and working every single day. Halloween just comes once a year. But, Halloween can also have some … difficulties … in that supply chain. There’s the house without candy… or where they just ran out… Or there’s the “healthy house” that hands out toothbrushes or boxes of raisins (oh, yeah, THEY’RE really popular!)… There’s your problems with the supply chain – out of stock of what you’re ordering – or not giving you the product you really want and order.
Then there are the … wardrobe malfunctions (thank you Janet and Justin!) … that puts an end to your night’s joys of candy and treats. And those can also manifest themselves in your supply chain – maybe your communications fail… or your translation adds odd-ball characters… or the data is … corrupted… There are a number of ways where your supply chain can malfunction and all … hell … breaks loose.
So, simple or complex; smooth and easy or fraught with horror, peril and malfunctions; Halloween may just be the best example of the supply chain outside of the supply chain.
So, to all you goblins, ghouls, bats and witches, I wish you a safe – insane – Halloween.
Oh, yeah. “Unpleasant dreams!” (many thanks to Elvira, Mistress of the Dark for that!)
Author: Craig Dunham – EDI Coordinator
Read more about Craig here: http://editalk.com/contributors/