Category Archives: History

Fifty Years Ago Today …

Great Britain gets one heck of an endorsement when the territory of Gibraltar, a 6.7 km2 region on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula which shares its (only) northern border with Spain votes 12,138 to 44 to remain British (and not revert to Spain).

Gibraltar, which has a constitution that allows it to govern its own affairs on a day to day basis (while ceding power such as defence and foreign relations to the British Government), is strategically important as it essentially controls the entrance and exit to the Mediterranean sea (which is only 13 km wide at this naval “choke point”), where half of the world’s seaborne trade passes.

Gibraltar serves as a reminder that it’s not always who you share a border with that matters, but who you share a cultural bond with. That’s why sometimes your best trading partner is half a world away and you need to effectively manage your global supply chain to make it happen.

Fifty Five Years Ago Today …

Evsei Grigorievich Liberman published “Plan, benefit, and prisms” in Pravda, a dissertation which proposed new methods of economic planning based on democratic centralism.

Democratic centralism is a method of leadership in which political decisions reached by the party (through democratically elected bodies) are binding upon all members of the party. His main proposal was that profits should be made the index of performance for Soviet planning, as well as the basis for bonuses to the personnel and directors of Soviet enterprises. This article stimulated a large debate and two years later, the Supreme Economic Council of the USSR converted some of the resulting conclusions into law, after some enterprises began to functionally experiment “on the basis of profit”. (Source: International Socialist Review, Vol. 26, No. 3, Summer 1965, pp 75 to 82 as transcribed by Einde O’Callaghan and found on the Ernest Mandel Internet Archive)

How is this relevant? It seems that no matter what the political climate, or what the governing structure, in the world of business, profit always seems to be top of mind for at least one party, especially when that party believes it’s their key to personal profit.

This means that there’s always going to be a stakeholder interested only in the bottom line and what it means to him, and that if you don’t keep this in the back of your mind, and come up with a decision that increased profit at least slightly, you’ll have a hard time getting it accepted, even if it is the most sustainable decision, the most corporately responsible decision, or the best long term decision from a value, and cost, perspective.

If profit can rear its ugly head in an environment governed by communism mindset, it can rear its head anywhere. Even in procurement which is supposed to focus on value creation and cost reduction. Keep this in mind when trying to ascertain, and balance, the desires of multiple stakeholders.

Fifty Years Ago Today …

Sweden entered the modern age of transportation when Dagen H occurred and traffic changed from driving on the left to driving on the right … literally overnight! (Those Swedes are masters of efficiency.)

Now if only the UK (and it’s former colony now known as Australia) could get with the times and join the rest of the world. However, given how long it took them to accept the modern calendar, it will probably be another hundred years. But it would make the creation of true global routing software so much easier …

Two Hundred and Sixty Five Years ago today …

Great Britain finally adopts the Gregorian Calendar, nearly two centuries later than most of Western Europe, and begins its entry into the modern age. Considering the influence of Britain, and the number of colonies (now CommonWealth countries) it had by 1752, by 1852, and by 1952, could you imagine if it, and its (former) colonies, were still on the Julian calendar.

We (and especially we Canadians) all know the importance of standardized time (especially since it it typically credited to Sir Sandford Fleming, a Canadian who eventually settled in Halifax, Nova Scotia that attracts great Canadian minds even to this day) when trying to do global business, but imagine if we didn’t even have standardized dates! Two o’clock on the 7th would be different days! And if Great Britain didn’t come in line when it did, Sir Sandford Fleming would have had a much harder time …

One Hundred and Ten Years Ago Today …

The first taxicabs begin their operation in New York City, imported by Harry N. Allen, a thirty year old businessmen, who, as per this great NY Times article on The Creation of the Taxi Man, became incensed when a hansom cab driver charged him $5 for a three-quarter-mile trip from a Manhattan restaurant to his home.

These vehicles were imported from France as he wanted reliable, improved automobiles that were superior to the American versions derided as “smoke-wagons” using par of the eight million in capital he raised to start the business and the first taxi cab went into operation on August 13, 1907. (Source: 6sqft) Less than two months later, on October 1, 1907, Alan he orchestrated a parade of sixty-five shiny new red gasoline-powered French Darracq cabs, equipped with fare meters, down Fifth Avenue, which could be interpreted as the grand opening of the taxicab revolution in New York and the United States in general.

It was an important milestone in the evolution of supply chain, as it allowed the people who run it to get around quicker and more predictably.