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Choice Overload

Supply chain managers are overwhelmed with choices and information. Too often the result isn’t decisiveness, but gridlock. The answer: Put in place strong leadership that gets to the choices that drive supply chain excellence.

By ·

Water, water every where, Nor any drop to drink.

From The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner

The old sailor telling his tale in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem has just returned from a long voyage. He recounts how he shot an albatross that was once viewed as a good omen for the voy¬age, and how he was then blamed by his crew when the winds turned against them and they were trapped on a ship going nowhere, depleting their supplies. They were surrounded by salt water, but neither he nor the rest of the crew had a drop of fresh water to drink. It became the albatross around his neck.

In today’s business world, those lines could be updated for any manager who, like the ancient mariner, is surrounded by data and information and choices to be made based on that information—in fact, there can be so many choices and so much information that it is difficult to move the ship forward. Think of it as “choice overload.” As with the ancient mariner, the plethora of choices becomes an albatross around the manager’s neck.

While choice overload could apply to any functional area of an organization, I believe there is no area within product-based companies where this is more applicable than the supply chain. Managers are challenged every day to make the right decisions to get orders out the door, deal with the inevitable hiccups of late deliver¬ies, inventory shortages and quality miscues all while coming up with new processes to enable new business strategies. Therefore, although this article has applica¬tion across a business, the necessity for avoiding choice overload is greatest when it comes to making supply chain choices. For that reason, I think it is important that supply chain managers put in place a foundation of strong leadership that can cut through the choice over¬load and make the decisions that drive supply chain excellence. The following is a look at what I call the “cycle of choice overload” as well as recommendations for supply chain leaders who want to break the vicious cycle, and get the albatross off from around their necks.

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By ·
Download Article PDF

 

Water, water every where, Nor any drop to drink.

From The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner

The old sailor telling his tale in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem has just returned from a long voyage. He recounts how he shot an albatross that was once viewed as a good omen for the voy¬age, and how he was then blamed by his crew when the winds turned against them and they were trapped on a ship going nowhere, depleting their supplies. They were surrounded by salt water, but neither he nor the rest of the crew had a drop of fresh water to drink. It became the albatross around his neck.

In today’s business world, those lines could be updated for any manager who, like the ancient mariner, is surrounded by data and information and choices to be made based on that information—in fact, there can be so many choices and so much information that it is difficult to move the ship forward. Think of it as “choice overload.” As with the ancient mariner, the plethora of choices becomes an albatross around the manager’s neck.

While choice overload could apply to any functional area of an organization, I believe there is no area within product-based companies where this is more applicable than the supply chain. Managers are challenged every day to make the right decisions to get orders out the door, deal with the inevitable hiccups of late deliver¬ies, inventory shortages and quality miscues all while coming up with new processes to enable new business strategies. Therefore, although this article has applica¬tion across a business, the necessity for avoiding choice overload is greatest when it comes to making supply chain choices. For that reason, I think it is important that supply chain managers put in place a foundation of strong leadership that can cut through the choice over¬load and make the decisions that drive supply chain excellence. The following is a look at what I call the “cycle of choice overload” as well as recommendations for supply chain leaders who want to break the vicious cycle, and get the albatross off from around their necks.

SUBSCRIBERS: Click here to download PDF of the full article.

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