According to Thomas Aquinas, the deadly sins “are those to which human nature is chiefly inclined.” A kind of innate tendencies in people that push us to commit acts with potentially terrible consequences. We wanted to transfer them to logistics and see how the perfect logistician has to be aware of these temptations.
The deadly sins of a logistician
What are the deadly sins translated into the world of logistics and supply chain?
Scalability – that is, the ability to absorb growth in work volumes without diminishing quality – and sustainability are two of the most desired characteristics of any supply chain. However, gluttony sometimes makes us believe that we are prepared to handle certain volumes, when in reality it may not be so.
Exceeding our logistical appetite can create very serious problems for us that harm customers, and could jeopardize our relationship with them. Increasing our turnover may seem very appetizing, but not doing it sustainably can turn into a poisoned dish.
Whether as a supplier or as a client, a logistician has to try to find the best solution for both parties, and try to move in win/win scenarios, in which both sides win. The opposite – trying to be the ‘winning’ party – leads us to scenarios of mistrust, which are not based on mutual benefit.
One of the parties may try to force a negotiation beyond what is reasonable in the economic or service terms, or a supplier may not be informing his client of the best solution, offering a more expensive one. In both cases, greed will be doing them a disservice in the long run.
Companies need to implement a constant improvement mindset
Once the perfect supply chain is designed, tomorrow is the best day to start reviewing it and see what can be improved. In logistics, where lots of determining factors change every second -costs, technological advances, needs, location of destinations and origins, etc.-, laziness is one of the worst sins of a logistician.
Companies need to implement a mentality of constant improvement and analysis of improvement opportunities. Resting on our laurels is the best way for the competition to get ahead of us.
A good logistician must be able to act and respond quickly. However, it is very important that we do not confuse the speed of the response with letting ourselves be carried away by the situation. Supply chains are ideal places for pressure to build up, given the importance of their functions, and you need to know how to manage that pressure so that it doesn’t turn into bad decisions or cloud the work environment.
If you have suffered a mishap, the worst way to solve it will be to make decisions based on impulses and under the emotions of the moment.
Envy is an endemic disease in our societies, and logisticians are not immune to it. In the supply chain world, envy often turns into imitation of what the competition is doing, whether from the customer’s or supplier’s point of view.
This ends up assuming investments or bets on technologies that we may not need or that are not the most suitable for our own particularities, but that we have seen in our neighbors. Delivery methods, deadlines, facilities, machinery… all of them likely to generate those envy. We have learned how to differentiate the ability to learn from the competition from the feeling of needing to imitate everything they do, without stopping to analyze each case. Knowing how and when to innovate is a great virtue.
Although pride and envy may seem like opposite sins, many more times than they seem they go hand in hand. Pride can creep into our logistics in many ways: by failing to create emergency plans, not calculating the risks that certain operations pose, assuming that we are giving customers the quality they expect from us, etc. That is, whenever we lack humility when analyzing ourselves internally.
All of these points can and should be addressed, either through risk management or quality surveys. But they will not be the only possibilities; Any point of our logistics that we take for granted and solved will be a small sin of pride.
The second meaning of the RAE defines lust as “excess or excess in some things.” And if there is unanimity in logistics about the problems generated by excess in any matter, that case is the level of stocks.
The abundance of stocks has several positive effects: it is more difficult for there to be a break and we run out of supplies, it is easier to organize distribution, less pressure when managing shipments and receptions, etc. However, all these pros have an obvious negative: excess costs. An ongoing expense with no direct benefit to the customer.
Reducing the level of stocks is not an easy or small task. You will have to be more precise calculating your demand, you will need to be stricter with your delivery times, you will have to react faster to unforeseen events and handle a higher number of shipments by reducing their volume. And, in addition, you will do it with less safety net, by having less stock. More problems for you, but in search of a strong improvement in costs.
Managing to escape this series of sins will require work, perseverance and humility. As we have seen, it is very simple and very human that, at a certain moment, we can fall into one of these deadly sins. But keeping them at bay will make our logistics grow sustainably, innovating in the aspects that are really necessary and looking every day for aspects in which we can improve.