C'mon now; how much fun is logistics, anyway? Everyone knows that we are in a dead-serious competition, fulfilling orders until our tongues are hangin' out, with enterprise survival hanging in the balance. But we should all take a deep breath and look for evidence of humor in the hurly-burly of our workaday world.
We spend entirely too much time worrying and wondering, humorlessly pursuing KPIs (key performance indicators) of dubious value and dashboard entries that might or might not be displaying true speed and performance. Hey, if your job (in supply chain management and elsewhere) is not fun, with its fair share of chuckles, you are either not doing it right or are doing it with the wrong people or the wrong enterprise.
So, what and where are other indicators that our work, at its core, is actually fun—and funny? Note: Supply chain and logistics professionals should not attempt this without outside help. The stories we think are hysterically funny are usually of the "you had to be there" variety. This is a good time to enlist people who get paid to be funny to help tell the stories. Practitioners and academics are pretty much useless in this arena; consultants generally make actuaries look like Louis C.K. All have senses of humor that would do a mortician proud.ACTORS AND COMEDIANS ARE SOCIALISTS AT HEART
Let's begin with the beloved leftist and genius auteur, Charlie Chaplin's iconic tramp, with oversized trousers, an undersized jacket, and charming props of a cane and bowler hat. I'll grant that Chaplin's characters predate the rise of logistics and supply chain management. But his painful lampoons of soulless factories, scientific management, and pointlessly impossible performance targets capture the behaviors of the rapacious lap dogs of the ruling classes. Thus, the classic "Modern Times" depicts the indignities heaped upon helpless laborers and exposes their inability to exercise initiative or creativity in satisfying the bosses. Looks, feels, sounds like DC operations working under stress, with limited investment and fewer resources—last generation's standard, with residual exceptions among performance laggards today.
Chaplin's pinnacle of artistry in silent films, "City Lights," shared almost nothing with "Modern Times," but foreshadowed the lack of human dignity, the capriciousness of monied classes, the powerlessness of workers, and the relegation of people to menial jobs, with no rights or recourse in keeping or losing tenuous employment.HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
Admittedly, we often have to search out the humorous in supply chain management and logistics. Once upon a time, a brilliant TV comedy series, "The Wrong Mans," opened its second season with the principals (English) working under assumed names in a witness protection program, functionaries in a distribution facility in Texas.
The co-star? James Corden, now hosting a late-night TV show and fighting off wanna-be guests with a shillelagh as "Car Pool Karaoke" captivates millions.
However, in the show, the boys are hard at it in the Southwestern sun, loading trailers and abusing forklift trucks with absurd abandon.OLLIE RESTS ON HIS LAURELS
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy defined the challenges of last-mile delivery in the fall-on-the-floor, spill-your-wine classic "The Music Box." Our lads, abetted by a horse with a mind of its own, of uncertain provenance, and apparently built by a committee of accountants, have been employed to deliver a piano to a house staggeringly situated at the pinnacle of an impossibly steep set of steps. Every sight gag known to the profession comes into play, with impeccably timed ups and downs, destruction in delivery, and a clear logistics focus in the Laurel and Hardy Transfer Co.A BRIEF DETOUR
In non-comedic genres, warehouses play significant roles. Judging by films, TV police procedurals, and crime dramas such as "Gotham," one would imagine that every warehouse in the state of New Jersey is vacant and available for drug deals, sting operations, and punishments for those violating the sacred code of omerta. That supposition rests on the plenitude of available space and the unmistakable accents of the protagonists.
Whatever, the entertainment potential of these logistics venues is immense—and leveraged to high levels, if not to the maximum.
In summary, we have no shortage of genuine logistics and supply chain management entertainment, if only we seek it out, recognize it, and savor it.STIFLING A GIGGLE
Here's more than a tip; it's a strong recommendation. Actively seek out opportunities to laugh. Look for the odd, the eccentric, the off-kilter and enjoy them. Better yet, take a moment to create them. Don't be a buffoon, someone who takes nothing seriously, but don't be the one who takes everything as a life-or-death matter.
Look, life is not easy. Work is important. All the more reason to have a laugh once in a while. It's good for your health, mental and otherwise.
Your therapist might be disappointed; yo' momma will be proud. Your colleagues will warm up to you, and your leaders may come to think that you have promise after all. And you can do all this without being one of those scary clowns that populate the news today.