Take a good long look at this picture. That’s my ignominy. That’s my garage. When we moved to San Diego, we loved the weather, we loved the ocean sunsets and we loved getting rid of our parka coats, gloves, scarves and tossle caps. Roddy Martin, my colleague from AMR Research, now with Accenture, often uses the term “ah-ha” moment. Up until this past year, my greatest “ah-ha” moment was watching my Boston neighbor walk away with my Arians Platinum 20-SHO snow blower. I no longer had a need for it and he was a happy camper. Never again was I to wake up at 4am, face the 5 degree temps, and walk up and back my driveway, blowing the snow into the woods… "Ah-Ha!” But, in Boston, we had this dirty little secret. A secret that I could no longer keep hidden in San Diego. In Boston, we had an “ATTIC”. In San Diego, there’s no attics, no basements. Stuff goes into the garage. For years, we just put boxes into our attics. Never thinking much about what it was, or why we needed it. Occasionally, I would move the attic boxes around, putting labels on some boxes. It made me feel like I had control on the attic. Now, in San Diego, every box we collected for 12+ years, was sitting in the garage. I had day-dreams of calling Darrell Sheets from the show “Storage Wars”. They would film a segment where Dan the Auctioneer would open my garage door, and Darrell, Jared, Brandi, and Dave Hester would bid on my garage. Wouldn’t it be great to collect $3,000 and have my garage cleaned out! Then, my wife and I would do the same old thing. Start asking questions, like:
- What if there’s a family heirloom in one of these boxes?
- How did we get to this point?
- What is all this stuff?
- Is any of this valuable?
- Where do I begin working on this?
There I stood, looking at this garage, asking these five questions. And then I realized, these are the same questions I would ask about the ERP system when I led supply chain organizations. In some cases, we had multiple ERP instances. In all cases, my “single” ERP Planning solution was made up of multiple modules… Each with its own data structure and each with its own DBA team and development team. Least we not forget, I had “boxes” of excel files as well. I had multiple versions of the truth. And that’s not the worst part! My supply chain was made up of 1st/2nd/3rd Tier suppliers, 3PL’s, 4PL’s, distributors and retailers. Last I checked, NONE of them were running my ERP system. I had a whole other team called “BI” (business intelligence) that managed this. Agility was constrained by the lack of timely information. People say “information is power”. I beg to differ. I say “informative decisions is power.”
Innovation leads to real change
So, as I pondered what to do about my garage, I borrowed lessons learned about we did with our ERP.
|What’s the primary purpose?||Park car||Transactions|
|Quick access to Key Decisions?||Shelving on wall||Planning System of Record|
|How to break the cycle?||Think about the entire living space & storage||Think about decisions in the end to end network|
|Informative Decisions?||What do I need quick access to?||How can this network know sooner & act faster?|
The “ah-ha” moments are the catalyst to innovation. Staring at my packed garage, the “ah-ha”, or better said “ughhh” moment, made me rethink the storage process and purpose of the garage. The same held true back when I looked at my ERP system. I had to rethink my planning process, since my network was made up of global nodes, using any old ERP system. The “ah-ha” moment for ERP was that its purpose was a transaction system. The end to end network required real time technology, from a single data source that could “know sooner and act faster”. My garage is now cleared out and organized. It serves the primary purpose of parking my car. As well, I’ve mapped the end to end processes that require storage, resulting in quick access to key items in the garage.