Learn from the Big Guy


We have all heard the flight attendant say, “Thank you for flying with us and welcome your destination, another on time arrival.”  Usually stated with gusto, as if an on time arrival was uncommon!

Pundits and politicians are telling us that Santa will be late this year.  More salt on the wound, the jolly elf may not have everything on our list.  “Say it isn’t so, oh the humanities.”  Pass the eggnog please, Clark.

This prognosticator suspects they are all wrong!!  Every young child knows that Santa, Mrs. Claus and their host of elves make all the toys, all year long at the North Pole.  So what’s the problem?  They are wrapping (pun?) things up even as you read this piece, right?

Well, the dirty little secret is that somewhere along the way, Santa outsourced and even offshored his manufacturing and much of his distribution.  Must have been when the elves went on strike during Y2K.  Toy manufacturing no longer takes place at the North Pole.

Be ‘SMART’ About Things

However, Santa is a visionary.  He is a SMART Manufacturing Early Adopter, even an Innovator.  Shortly after, “The term Smart Manufacturing was coined in 2006 at a National Science Foundation workshop on Cyberinfrastructure,” Santa secretly developed his Proof of Concept and later a Pilot at a North Pole toy facility.  Legend has it that by 2012 he was deploying enterprise level SMART Toy Manufacturing at global scale.

Today, some of Santa’s Helpers appear to be struggling against the firm deadline.  Their level of ’empowerment’ and creativity will determine how well the territory they are responsible for fares later this month.

For those in real trouble, one suspects that Santa has already done two (2) things.  First he has probably sent in Teams of supply chain Subject Matter Expert elves to help suppliers get processes back on track  Additionally, he has transferred business from those who might miss the deadline to those forward looking firms that value High Reliability Organizational traits and will perform against the deadline.

Santa is not only SMART, he and his organization are Resilient!

Disruptions Amongst Us

When things go bump-in-the-night with a supply chain, the worst thing Santa’s Helpers can do is fib.  Check is in the mail, dog ate my homework, I over slept, my car would not start, my computer crashed and so forth and so on.  Like most parents of small children, he has heard it all before over his long life.

Santa always knows ‘who has been bad and good,’ and Data Analytics does not lie about his supply chain ecosystem.  You can try to hide but you cannot run.  While coal is out favor these days, Santa still have plenty to deliver as necessary.  Coal in your stocking would ruin a Carbon Free Holiday, so behave.

Yes Virginia,

There is a Santa Claus and he has never screwed things up!  He will fly from his distribution center at the North Pole the night of December 24th.  As he always has.  On the morning of the 25th, kids all over the world will celebrate.  The supply chain Grinch will not steal from the kiddos.  All will be joyful and full of song.

Santa will deliver, despite the challenges faced.  If he can, why can’t your organization?  For those who have seen the movie Miracle on 34th Street, you know he is real?  In that movie, he delivers a house to a skeptical young girl.  He found a way.

Santa has a global distribution problem– yet he always delivers on time to the largest customer base of all!  He has to for if he failed and his customer’s lost faith in him, it might be the end of the month of December as we know it.  The stakes could not be higher.

Usher in the New Year

Paraphrasing the late Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, “You go to war with the supply chain you have, not the supply chain you might want or wish to have at a later time.”  A later time always comes regardless of preparation or not.  If your organization is one of Santa’s Helpers/Suppliers that did not have business processes that were ‘smart’ enough this year, Happy New Year!  Start January 2nd to transform the old ways.

For more about SMART Manufacturing, keep an eye our for the release of our 2022 book, “Smart Manufacturing: Integrating Transformational Technologies for Competitiveness and Sustainability.”  We will announce it on these pages when it is available.

Hope you all found a bit of holiday cheer in this piece.  The story may be tongue-in-cheek, but the message is real.  It is time for all of us to ‘Get Smart.’  For those of you who were children of the 1960s, you will get the pun.  For the rest of you, GOOGLE IT!

Happy Holidays

For More Information

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For more information on Cross Cultural Engagement, check out our Cross Cultural Serious Game

We presented, Should Cross Cultural Serious Games Be Included in Your Diversity Program: Best Practices and Lessons Learned at the Online Conference, New Diversity Summit 2020 the week of September 14, 2020.  Check Out this timely event and contact the organizer for access to the presentations!!

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