By Bob Williams

BS begins to creep in slowly and will bury you if you are not vigilant

Traditional corporate folks may confuse the BS of everyday in-the-office life with the BS to here - Bull Shipping - because in the wilds of the field they have similar smells. It could be self serving to allow the proliferation of BS in some cases, for example:

  • when the cost of true creative juice is just too high, and the coffee is bad
  • when the meeting subject matter is simply last weeks' news and boring
  • when no one wants to engage with the energy to seriously effect change
  • when it's just easier to let things ride AND
  • when all the above serve to protect someone's position

- usually someone responsible!

Despite the magnificent works by Patrick Lencioni - Death By Meeting and Getting Naked - that describe how to wade effectively through the BS, the majority of decision makers within our hallowed corporate walls seem to have olfactory failure, and may even believe the depth of the BS In some way actually protects them.

Yes, even though in government it is dominant and obvious, it may be a bit more surreptitious within the halls of logistics. Whereas Elon Musk may be suspicious of people who put all their faith in the "process", many within the ranks of shipping management, especially In the offices of Supply Chain Management.

So we have booking departments within steamship lines that will not take bookings unless the booking agent can cut and paste an earlier transaction, thereby avoiding having to fill in the information - even when it has changed - (Yes, actual example!).

You may ask yourself: might that happen with ALL customers trying to make bookings, and the answer is "of course not", and herein lies one of the great mysteries of BS. Understanding that larger customers always receive priority treatment, does that necessarily mean that smaller customers should expect to struggle to receive the most basic services? Should they have to tolerate being ignored, making multiple calls only to learn that errors multiply faster than you can make the calls? All this when the profit margin for the smaller customer can be much higher per shipment? This can only happen as the tide of BS rises...

You might guess that these are reasons that could justify the incredible growth of small, customer focused service providers, even in the face of larger global organizations continued attempts to expand. There must be some critical point at which the absence of BS spontaneously creates the vortex that sucks the BS into the company. Could be the same point at which we start violating simple, well known logistics principles like hand offs, is the same time the BS starts to invade almost imperceptibly. We all know that with every touch point - or handoff - in logistics, the probability of error increases. The same applies to documents being handed off within and/or between departments as they are established because of growth within an organization. Just like the classic science case of the frog unable to react to boiling water because it is brought to boiling so slowly he is unaware of the danger, the BS begins to creep in so slowly that by the time it's at a dangerous level, we cannot imagine things otherwise.

There have been experiments, one I knew of personally implemented by a carrier, that offered the same customer ownership as the "mom n pop" operators by assigning customers to individual operations professionals who executed all shipments for each customer from A to Z. No hand offs, no transfer of responsibility and greatly reduced errors... customers loved it. The carrier personal loved it, too, complaints dropped and compliments (remember those?) multiplied! Unfortunately, the carrier was acquired by a larger one, and the project fell into the sea of BS, where it has remained!

There are still companies who understand that the BS will bury you if you are not vigilant, if you find more political correctness and less honesty, and if you smell something but fail to ask if someone else smells it - especially your customers!! You have to look hard, but they are out there, thriving under the radar, for now!

R Fain
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