Here are three thoughts to contemplate:
1) A compass does not point to true north; it simply provides a close proximity. It points to magnetic north.
2) Gestalt Psychologist, Kurt Koffka stated that the “whole is other than the sum of the parts”. The translation from the original German was incorrect. It is NOT “greater”, but to most “Perception is Reality”.
3) If you live in the garlic room you can’t smell the garlic.
Now let’s take these three thoughts and apply them to the material handling world to create real concepts that will serve as a guide to achieving the elusive, but ever sought, goal of operational optimization and excellence.
True North represents your goal of optimal performance in your operations. Magnetic North is something mistaken as being the best, or has been settled for as what can be reasonably expected to be achieved. A compass and a good topographic map with declination will show you the goal, but how to get there is the key question. Will you have to navigate through mountains, canyons, rivers and survive storms? Lewis and Clark had Sacajawea to guide them through the wilderness. What is the Warehouse Manager going to do? There is product to get out the door and there is a lot to coordinate and navigate such as lift trucks, rack, people, systems, and of course the occasional storms, aka downtime.
This is why it is imperative to have a guide or someone in the material handling world that would be called a “Trusted Advisor”. This is the person who not only knows the intricacies of material handling, but has taken the time to learn your business and put together an optimal solution. They can take you through the whole process and know the interplay, not just isolated parts. When it all works together smoothly you recognize the real value lies in the whole solution, not the price of isolated parts that don’t best suit the application, and deliver the desired outcomes.
Gestalt – The whole is other than the sum of the parts
Many times the Warehouse Manager, Director of Operations or Owner thinks they did the right thing in looking at pieces of the puzzle in isolation rather than seeing the whole picture. A great price on a lift truck pales if it suffers downtime, excessive energy consumption, and the service is unreliable. Rack that is rated too low for the pallet loads or, almost as bad, unnecessary overkill, is a costly mistake. Cubic velocity and slotting optimization is crucial to maximizing throughput and minimizing handling and movement. Can your Warehouse Management System (WMS) manage potential growth changes? The real value lies in seeing the forest through the trees. Are you properly positioned not only for the present, but for where you expect to be in five years? A myopic focus on parts misses the necessary interplay of how everything needs to work together for a sum greater than the parts rather than other than the parts. If perception is reality, another perspective may be beneficial.
The Garlic Room
This is perhaps the most detrimental milieu to any possibility of achieving optimization and success. It is a syndrome resulting from the marriage of “We’ve always done it this way” to “If it’s not broken don’t fix it”. Is this resistance to change, risk aversion? The real risk is not changing, adapting and innovating because everyone has competition and someone is out there on the cutting edge looking for every business advantage. Do you accept the challenge to become a better company? There is a huge cost to not embracing innovation and change. The business environment is dynamic and what doesn’t adapt becomes extinct, just ask your local dinosaur.
The real value comes from seeing the big picture and picking your business partners wisely. They have to have the products, people, resources and expertise to help your business over the long haul, to build a lasting relationship that continually brings real value, and gets you to your goal of optimizing your material handling needs. Your thoughts?