Murder trials have been compared to jigsaw puzzles and heavyweight boxing matches, but supply chain management? In a post on the Logistics Viewpoint blog site, Adrian Gonzalez made that very analogy. Reflecting on his recent experience as a juror in a murder trial, Gonzalez, a longtime supply chain technology analyst at ARC Advisory Services, noted a number of similarities between the two.
"Bringing together a diverse group of citizens to determine the facts and render a verdict is not unlike bringing a group of people from different functional groups together in a monthly S&OP (sales and operations planning) meeting to determine 'one version of the truth,'" Gonzalez wrote. In a trial, the jury must assess the credibility of witnesses and the truthfulness of their testimony. Participants in an S&OP meeting, likewise, must gauge the accuracy of forecasts and the "testimony" of their colleagues, he wrote. For example, someone in logistics might question whether sales is being too optimistic, or someone in sales might wonder whether logistics is prepared to handle expected volume spikes caused by product promotions.
The results of supply chain teams' S&OP decisions can have lasting consequences, just as a jury's verdict does, Gonzalez continued. The CEO's quarterly message to investors, moreover, is analogous to the jury foreperson's announcement of the verdict. For a publicly held company, "guilty" equates to falling short of analyst expectations and missing quarterly numbers, he noted. "Innocent" is exceeding expectations, taking market share from the competition, and raising the bar for the next quarter.