“What do you call a smiling, friendly and courteous person at a sales conference?” The caterer.
“How do you save a drowning supply chain guy?” Take your foot off his head.
“What is black and brown and looks really good on a sales guy?” A Rottweiler.
“What do you call a bus full of supply chain guys at the bottom of the ocean?” A good start.
“How do you get a sales guy out of a tree?” Cut the rope.
A man walked into a bar with a snarling alligator. “Do you serve supply chain people in here” the man asked.
“Certainly do.” replied the barman.
“Perfect!” the man said, “I’ll have a beer and I’ll take a demand planner for my alligator?”
“A salesman and your mother-in-law are trapped in a burning building. You only save time to save one of them. Do you a, have lunch or b, go and watch a movie?
“Sales people think forecasting is about going fishing with three colleagues.” (That one might need a bit of thought.)
No, this was not Les Dawson in dead-pan full flow in a dimly lit, smoky northern England working men’s club just before he threw in a dubious segue to his stock-in-trade mother in law jokes. This was the beginning of an FMCG pre-S&OP meeting! Yes, the meeting where rigorous debate was expected between colleagues in different functions in preparation and eventual agreement and commitment to a plan for the following period.
Pre-S&OP; the final meeting in a monthly cycle before the balanced supply and demand plan is proposed and commended to the senior team. The meeting where sales, marketing, finance, purchasing, supply chain and other functions do their best to agree a plan that is achievable in terms of volume and value, within supporting budgets and in line with senior team expectations.
Now, I like a good old guffaw and I think I give as much as I get but this type of banter is going a little too far. However, I am not suggesting meetings should take place with stiff British style upper lip and devoid of humour. Some of the most productive meetings in which I have been involved included a degree of humour which generally relaxed attendees and ensured everyone felt comfortable enough to make a considered contribution. A little bit of fun goes a long way to gelling teams, removing inhibitions and building trust but…..
Under the circumstances described at the beginning of this blog there is about 2/5 of 3/5ths chance of anything like a cohesive and reliable plan emerging from the tennis-like squabble. If your S&OP is suffering a similar fate then do something about it now as it will not get better of its own accord. Of course, if one of the senior team joins the meeting as an observer all will be sweetness and light but you will be able to tell by the quality, reliability and credibility of your S&OP output if real and open team working is alive and kicking in the business.
Did you hear the one about the marketing guy………….?
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net