Monday, June 18, 2012

Supply Chain.

Supply Chain is, perhaps, the worst function a CEO must manage. I fear taking on this accountability has gotten me into a bad spot. Read on.

Supply is a wily function, always looking to point the blame back at anyone and everyone else for the supply mishaps that occur on a daily basis.

Ask them if you will have enough widgets for your promotion and they respond, "Well, you give me the forecast and we'll supply it, so you tell me."

Tell them your promotion is going to blow the doors down and they say, "I'm not sure about that. We could end up with millions of dollars in extra inventory and a huge write-off if you're wrong."

Convince them the promotion will do well and the widget-makers need to ramp up production and they say, "Uh-oh. I don't know if our widget-makers have this kind of widget-making capacity. Can we aim to do worse so we don't run out while we're on-air?"

Meanwhile, you sit on the other end of the phone, tearing your hair out ready to call the widget-factory yourself if you could just finagle their number from your Supply Chain partner's rolodex, which is guarded by Argus. Oh no, he didn't sail off into mythological history with the rest of the Greek Gods, Supply Chain purchased him.

When my husband arrived home on Friday and opened the fridge, the half-used bottles of Dijon mustard, eggs, string cheese, take-out boxes, and pickles were disappointing. "Soooo, what's going on with the food situation?" he asked.

"Baby, I responded, "I manage Supply Chain. We're about to move out and I don't want a write-off situation."

Now, please note that for years my husband and I worked at the same company and oftentimes on the same projects with the same people. We frequently talk like cross-functional partners. When discussing baby names a year ago we aligned against managing to the middle for fear we would end with a mediocre name on which we'd both compromised. We'd seen too many ideas get chipped away at until they were unrecognizable kernels of former gems. We vowed this would not happen with our child's name. Passion was a requirement regardless of the passion's direction.

I've digressed.

My husband responded with, "Yeah, but you don't want to run out of product, either."

"Hey, I got it covered," I responded. "I'm CEO and managing supply is my concern, ok?"

"Fine, but if we run out of food you're fired."

"You can't fire me. You're not on the Board."

Fast forward to yesterday when we went on exciting Father's Day trip to the grocery store. As we loaded the car, my husband said, "So is theft one of your supply chain strategies?"

"Just because I don't work anymore, doesn't mean I've resorted to stealing," I shot back.

"Actually, you have." He pointed to the chicken on the bottom of the cart that I'd forgotten to put on the grocery conveyor belt.

I know you want me to say that I went back and and paid for it. I thought about writing that I did, but that would be false and while I may be a thief, I am no liar. Come on. Wouldn't you have done the same? Ok, maybe not, but this is a judgment-free zone so keep it to yourself. It was raining, the baby was crying, and we were parked far from the entrance. Kroger won't go belly-up without my $6. However, this is concerning because three weeks into my new leadership position and I'm already headed down an ethically-questionable path many CEOs have trod, ripe with esoteric financial dealings, floating interest rates, balloons, busts, and jail.

As far as I can tell, the only upside is that Martha Stewart spent some time imprisoned and came up smelling like roses. I still read her magazine and her fellow inmates now know how to fold fitted sheets and decoupage their cell walls!

The morale of this story, though, is stay away from Supply Chain. Even if you get all arts and craftsy in jail, you still end up in jail.


  1. hi Annie, new fan here from SITS. i love the witty business banter between you and your husband. i deal with Supply Chain and inventory in my day job so found this particularly humorous. i look fwd to reading more from you!

  2. Hahaha. I pretty much love that you didn't go back to pay, not b/c it makes you a thief, but because I think any sane person with a crying baby parked far from the entrance would have made the same decision and never told a soul. Good for you. Kroger will survive. :)

  3. How funny! And just noticed HE didn't point it out until you were out of the store! Tee Hee!