By Kevin Meyer
I always take time to read the reports from our sales folks as they provide some great insight into what's happening at our customers. One in particular jumped out this week as it points to a couple problems most companies experience. Obviously I've sanitized the statement to protect the guilty.
He tried to put together a forecast for us, however the numbers that their new MRP system were generating seemed very wrong to him. Once things seem more accurate, he will provide us with some type of estimated usage. He cannot make this decision. It is at his bosses level and he does not know what they are planning.
Bam! MRP is inaccurate, he cannot make the decision, and he has no idea what his bosses (plural) are planning. How often do all of us hear that? Yes, sad.
Long ago I told you how a white board can be more accurate… and effective… than an MRP system. In fact one of the first things real lean companies do is turn off the shop floor control modules of MRP and use it for just gross aggregate planning. But this problem is far larger.
Plans are being made by multiple bosses but not communicated to some poor lad who has to juggle what little information he does receive. I bet he's then held accountable for the results stemming from those conflicting snippets.
And it sounds like he may even know what needs to be done, but isn't allowed to make the decision. Decisionmaking is in the hands of the less-knowing. Probably taking up time from the decisions that would be appropriate at that level – but of course if they haven't even figured out how to allow decisionmaking by those with the knowledge, how could they be effectively working on larger projects?
Why does the guy still work there? How long will he still work there once the economy starts improving? How long will it take the company to replace him, and at what cost?
Ineffective leadership has consequences and costs. Relying on the false god of the almighty algorithm instead of human knowledge has consequences and costs.
And some people still believe the largest cost in business is labor? How will chasing cheap labor solve this problem – especially after adding more supply chain complexity, lead time, and language barriers?