Fortune’s Dumb Supply Chain Moments

Fortune recently posted their 101 Dumbest Moments in Business for 2007. I found the following five supply-chain related moments to be quite humorous.

Free Virus for All!

A Belgian IT security consultant, testing Google’s ability to block harmful advertising, posts an add that reads “Is your PC virus-free? Get it infected here!” Google accepts its, displays it 259,723 times, and 409 web surfing morons actually click on the add!.

Yeah, I’d like that e-book, those mp3s, and a new virus for my PC. The 27 viruses currently on my machine are only slowing it to a snail’s pace. I’m sure I can get it down to sloth-speed!

Supply Chain Lesson:

Make all of your processes and e-tools as idiot proof as possible. There’s no telling what a moron will do given the opportunity!

Who’s Murphy?

On July 24, San Francisco data-center operator 365 Main issues a press release touting its 24/7 reliability: “In the unlikely event of a cut to a primary power feed, the state-of-the-art electrical system instantly switches to live backup generators, keeping the data center continuously running.” That day a power outage hits and three of its backup generators fail, taking down high-profile customers including RedEnvelope, Technorati, and Craigslist.

We’re not the Titanic! We won’t sink!

Supply Chain Lesson:

It doesn’t matter if you never met Murphy, his laws still apply! Don’t … Get … Cocky! You can never do away with risk!


John Griffin, CEO of a Livermore, California, startup, pockets about $750,000 of seed capital after lying to investors lured by the company’s promise to develop a “dirt eater” to clean toxic soil. After reportedly spending the money on such necessities as a Ferrari, Super Bowl tickets, and steroids, Griffin is sentenced to 30 months in prison. The name of the startup: VaporTech.

VaporTech isn’t the name of a cool new technology powered by steam – especially considering steam-powered devices have existed for almost 2000 years. (Remember the aeolipile from engineering history class?) It’s another name for VaporWare, which is a software or hardware product that is announced, but never emerges.

Supply Chain Lesson:

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

They don’t call it the European Union for nothing!

To highlight its role as a patron of the arts, the EU posts a mashup on YouTube featuring two dozen sex scenes from movies it has funded, followed by the line, “Let’s come together.”

Maybe that’s why the Fitworld gym in Heteren (in the Netherlands) introduced Naked Sunday.

Supply Chain Lesson:

No comment!

My factory for a screw!

Literally! A worker in a German screw factory smuggles out 2,000 to 7,000 screws per night, ultimately stealing more than a million units. He sells the screws below cost on the Internet, artificially depressing the entire screw market.

Supply Chain Lesson:

Don’t forget security!