The Rugby World Cup is upon us once more and this time it is in the northern hemisphere and in UK. Therefore rain can be expected throughout the tournament.
Rugby is a strange sport in some ways. The forwards are the incredibly big blokes (yes, and girls too now) who seldom score and the backs are the more nimble bodied (but still relatively large) who carry out most of the scoring. In a majority of sports you score goals or points but in rugby you get rewarded for a “try” and a “conversion “which sounds a bit wishy-washy and indecisive if you are not a follower of the game. Do supporters shout “try” when one is scored? Not sure but I doubt they shout “conversion” even after disposing of a few pints.
You also have to pass the ball backwards in order to make progress and move forwards so that presents a challenge in rugby supply chain terms. In supply chains you are generally pushing (yes, in good times it is a pull) everything forward towards the consumer shelf, continually honing your route to market (RTM). Anything coming in the reverse direction is usually poorly planned, unwanted, expired or damaged goods and that easily sticks a spanner in an otherwise slick supply chain.
The rugby ball is not round; nowhere near a perfect sphere (but it s a spheroid) and when kicked it reminds me of an FMCG sales forecast – no, please stay with me. Have you ever seen a rugby ball bounce after being kicked forward and into the sky? If the ball is not caught cleanly the shape means it could actually bounce in any direction at any speed and change both at any time without any warning, i.e. impossible to predict. Sounds familiar?
You could also imagine the scrum being the supply chain team grunting and groaning and expending mammoth sweat and effort to prevent the competition from getting to the target, i.e. the ball. You then watch as the backs (a.k.a. FMCG salesmen) stride on and take all the credit and kudos for the entre process! Sounds familiar again? In rugby it is not quite like that as team spirit is very real and paramount but in FMCG life that is far too often the reality. In rugby your department or position does not matter and the whole team is focused on scoring points or tries and conversions.
The winners of the 2015 World Cup will probably be New Zealand but there is just a small chance, a very teeny-weeny chance that England could win. Such a result would mean the English rugby supply chain was slick and fast with customer service approaching 100%
I have not yet found a way to use cricket to illustrate supply chain excellence but I will keep thinking.
Image courtesy of Digitalart at freedigitalphotos.net