Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Great Supply Chain Jokes from the Last Decade

In preparation for the week ahead, SI has decided to publish some of its favourite supply chain jokes. Some are a bit brash (and maybe even offensive), but sometimes that makes a good joke.

3. Demand forecasters are like Slinkies. Not really good for anything, but you still can’t help but smile when you see one tumble down the stairs.

2. If you’re a supplier and you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of delivery dates.

1. What do you get if you play a supply chain country song backwards? You get your revenue back, you get your margin back, you get your on-time delivery back …

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.

The University is Still Here Because …

A couple of years ago TechCrunch wrote an article that asked Why is the University Still Here? In a time where information is universally accessible, knowledge can be compiled by experts and shared in a reviewed and verified form far and wide, and intelligence can be conveyed direct from an expert in Oxford (England) to an able learner in Liberal (Kansas) if both are ready, willing, and able thanks to virtual classrooms with audio-visual conferencing and screen sharing.

Then, earlier this decade, we saw the launch of massive open online courses (MOOCs) where anyone can register for a course from a leading professor, get the lectures, complete assignments, send them to TAs (teaching assistants) half a world away, get graded (automatically for multiple choice and by a human for essay or problem solving questions), and work towards what is supposed to be the equivalent of a University degree. But is it?

First of all, universities, even with remote learning aspects, have always been based on classroom learning. Secondly, advanced programs have always been based on one-on-one instruction between teacher and student. Thirdly, they have always been based on carefully structured curriculums that are designed to ensure a student gets an appropriate depth and breadth of knowledge. Fourth, the testing is always done in a manner that makes cheating or plagiarism difficult.

MOOCs are the antitheticals of University. They are trying to abolish classrooms. There is no personal one-on-one instruction between a recorded lecture and a semi-engaged viewer. The student can design their own haphazard curriculum that ensures neither depth nor breadth in the appropriate subject matter. And anyone can submit a document created by anyone else and there is no way to know.

But the failure of MOOCs to displace universities is not an argument for the continued existence of universities. Just because X does not displace Y, that doesn’t mean that Y is superior. It just means that the masses do not believe that X is superior. In our case, it’s not enough of a case for universities.

To make the case, we look at where MOOCs failed. As per the techcrunch article, they failed in keeping a user’s interest. Most people who registered for and even started a course, never completed. Most who completed didn’t come back. They weren’t motivated. The reasoning in the article is that because, for the majority of learners, it was part time, on their own time, it never got primacy and without primacy, efforts get abandoned.

And that’s part of the reason MOOCs failed and part of the reason we still need Universities. When you go to University, you make education a primary focus of your life. But the other reason is that a real, established, prestigious University provides something no other form of education can — a well-rounded full-featured educational experience with primacy, one-on-one instruction from an expert, great curriculums, and, most important, a community to share the experience with. This last aspect is key — you are part of a dedicated group of people there to learn and share the experience of learning and better each other in the process. And while that group shrinks a bit over the years, by the end, you have your own support group, and possibly a few colleagues for life, that got you there and take you further. That’s something you’ll never get from a MOOC.

And that’s why Universities still exist and need to continue to exist.

Procurement Wasteland!

Down here in the crypt
I search for a script
I put my soul into my living

I constantly fight
To prove I’m right
Management is not forgiving

Don’t cry
Don’t raise your eye
It’s a Procurement Wasteland

Buyer, take my hand
We’ll analyze spend plans
Put out the fire
And don’t look past my shoulder

The exodus is here
Our downfall is near
Let’s band together
Before we get much older

Procurement Wasteland
It’s a Procurement Wasteland
Procurement Wasteland, oh yeah
Procurement Wasteland
We’re all wasted