Supply Chain Lessons From the Shower

Feathers were ruffled chez Bounford early yesterday morning.  Over nothing more (or perhaps less) than there being no shampoo and conditioner left. Two teenage girls were distinctly unimpressed at having to use the cheap supermarket stuff reserved for the dog. So when teenager 3 then emerged from the bathroom registering a loud protest, my temper snapped and I retorted “Well, I’m just a bad mother then…”. (SO embarrassing to admit now, but cut me some slack, I’ve a vile head cold, am running a fever, and just sometimes tire of the constant “wants” that come with parenting teens). To my astonishment, cool as a cucumber, Felix retorted – “No, you’re not a bad mother, we’ve just had a systems failure”.

I had to laugh because he was 100% right. We ran out because we’ve no system in place to alert me to the upcoming exhaustion of supplies. That’s all we need (and then of course I could delegate the shopping). Which made me think of how often in our working lives things go wrong simply because we don’t communicate stuff. Not only stuff to do with our immediate requirements – but insights we have and can’t communicate with our colleagues for the benefit of the organisation.  Which is the kind of problem former BBC exec and social media evangelist Euan Semple talks about in his recent book Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do. I’m not wholly convinced that social media and social tools are all as positive and benign as his beguilingly relaxed approach would have us believe (more of which later in the week). However I do completely agree that finding new and better ways of sharing needs and information contributes massively to the health of a business (not to mention a household).

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