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Supply Chain Guide to the Olympics!


We could not let a one in four year global sporting event pass by without providing our own take on the essential Olympic guide for global supply chain professionals.

  • describe the imageThe torch relay: The ultimate package delivery nightmare. It takes 8,000 people four years to deliver a simple package from Beijing to London. No shortage of intermediate ‘in transit’ package scans are available, but you cannot seem to make it go faster.
  • The opening ceremony: Much like a major project start up—the whole world shows up, carries their individual flags into a ceremonial gathering and then disappears to let a few individuals go into battle in their name.
  • The 100 meters sprint: Surely the glory event of the supply chain Olympics.  Receive the go ahead at the last minute from someone carrying a pistol and achieve the impossible with no external resources in 10 seconds or less.
  • The 4 x 100 Meter Relay: Just how hard can it be to get four suppliers to perform well, stay in their lane, show up on time and manage a clean handover to the next one?  Apparently very hard!
  • Beach Volleyball: A classic in project crisis management. The ball is going to fall flat in the sand, it will be unpleasant and everybody knows it. The objective is to wear just enough to CYA and keep batting it over the net so it falls in someone else’s patch.
  • The Shot Put: Alternative project crisis management for those who feel that they don’t have the stamina for beach volleyball. Just take the problem ball and throw it as far away from you as possible. Accuracy optional!
  • Boxing: Standard practice in a competitive tender situation. Put opposing forces into a confined arena, with some artificial rules and watch them take lumps out of each other. Meanwhile a panel of judges stands back, awards technical points and determines the winner.
  • Diving: A little like consulting really. Take something as simple as hopping into the water and getting wet; make it as complicated as you can; wave your arms about to make it look good; give the arm waving some fancy names; achieve the same basic objective and walk away with the gold.
  • Synchronized swimming: Consider it supply chain nirvana. It starts with a meticulous plan that is then executed in perfect harmony with all participants acting, moving and even breathing in perfect unison. It is a joy to watch but much like supply chain nirvana, it usually lasts for less than five minutes once every four years.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all the Olympic athletes every success over the next few weeks. Feel free to add your own Olympic insights!



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