The adventures of Don Quixote de la Mancha make up one of the most widely read books in history and there is no collection of the best works of literature that does not reserve a place of honor for it. However, what lessons could we draw for the supply chain of the 21st century from a work written 400 years ago? As unlikely as it may sound, more than it seems. Guided by his proverbs and together with his squire, Sancho Panza, we immerse ourselves in the popular wisdom of his pages.
10 sayings from Don Quixote to improve your logistics
1.- Praying to God… and giving the mallet
This saying warns us that we cannot simply entrust ourselves to luck and hope that things turn out well. It is an idea fully applicable in our sector, since as much as we depend on unforeseen events and uncontrollable mishaps that can happen to us, the difference is in our preparation work to minimize our exposure to chance or bad luck.
2.- He who reads a lot and walks a lot, sees a lot and knows a lot
In this case, this saying indicates the two ways to achieve wisdom in what we do: the experience gained through practice over the years and study. This double aspect of knowledge is repeated in logistics, where training, knowledge and putting it into practice are the best ingredients for success.
3.- In the delay is the danger
There is no doubt that missing deadlines is one of the biggest nightmares that a logistics professional can face. However, once a situation or a delay arises, knowing how to react on time and in the right way is almost as valuable as not having failed. And it is that customers know how to assess situations in which suppliers suffer an incident and react quickly, honestly and effectively.
4.- The crazy person knows more in his house than the sane person in someone else’s
The Cervantes Institute explains this proverb in this way: “The owner of a business knows more about him, no matter how little he understands, than another person who judges him from afar and without any knowledge.” Once again, we see this idea reflected daily in logistics. Although the world of supply chain is full of theory about how things should be done, the reality is that in each case you have to go down to the individual example to see the specific needs of the company. This is the reason why the design of customized supply chains is one of the qualities most appreciated by companies that hire logistics services.
5.- Those who seek adventures do not always find them good
This saying warns us about the adventures we embark on without having planned properly. In the world of the supply chain, planning is essential, while rushing is a highway to failure. As tempting as the promised results may seem, we would do well to make sure beforehand that we are ready to begin the adventure.
6.- Where you least expect the hare to jump
As we have said, proverbs are a reflection of popular wisdom and, therefore, it is not surprising that they frequently appeal to moderation and common sense. Along the same lines as the previous saying, in this case Don Quixote invites us to review the certainty of our plans before trying to undertake them. Being prepared for the unexpected must be one of our tasks.
7.- A bird in the hand is better than a hundred flying
In a similar line to the previous saying, Cervantes reminds us of the value of what we can touch and see with our eyes in the face of the great promises of what could be. Keeping your feet on the ground and ensuring each step is an attitude that must be common in supply chains.
8.- Better one take than two I’ll give you
When designing a supply chain, there are a thousand elements to quantify. How many orders can be prepared in a certain time, what will be the delivery or transport time between the different links in the chain, how many personnel will be necessary to carry it out and a long etcetera. For companies it is essential that these predictions come true at the time of putting into operation. If there is a difference between the promised service and the received service, it will be difficult for that logistical relationship to work.
9.- The chicken lays on an egg
“No matter how small the principles may be, they contribute to advancing things and achieving important things”, explains the Instituto Cervantes about this saying. In the world of logistics, technology is a tool that can help make great leaps in relatively short periods of time. However, the concept of constant improvement is fundamental to supply chain optimization. Constantly rethinking processes, measuring results, detecting areas for improvement… A universe of “few” to achieve that “much” that the client needs.
10.- Whoever errs and makes amends to God entrusts himself
Trial and error is one of the foundations of all science, and the same is true of logistics. Don’t be afraid to try new things and change the ones you’re doing, even if they work, if you think it’s going to mean a leap for the better. Don’t fear the mistake; afraid of not learning from him.
And one of Celestina…
To finish our compilation, we add a saying from another of the great classics of Spanish literature: La Celestina, by Fernando de Rojas:
Whoever takes a lot of space, the less he tightens up.
Sometimes we mistakenly believe that there is only one way to do logistics or to design a supply chain. But it’s not like that; It could be said that there are as many types of supply chains as there are companies, since each business prioritizes certain characteristics. If you want to be the fastest, you will hardly be the cheapest. Or if you want to be the simplest, it will be difficult for you to be the one that offers the most variety of products or customization possibilities.