Saturday, August 12, 2017

What, Me Worry?

A recent study at the University of Southhampton in the UK has come up with some interesting, counter-intuitive results with regard to neurotic people living a bit longer than the normal, well-adjusted crowd ( The study is a mind-numbing read, so I suggest that you just read the introduction and discussion. The statistical evidence that neurotic personalities might live longer is sketchy, but it certainly would lead one to believe that they do not live shorter lives and “may” live longer than the happy people who worry less and take life on the sunny side.

This is good news for headhunters and very good news for those of you who work somewhere in the supply chain. If your job involves the movement of stuff from one point to another, you know that worry and anxiety come with the territory. Rarely does anything go completely as it is supposed to go. I laugh when I hear companies and carriers talk about service levels. Whether the bar is set at 100%, 98%, 95% or something less, I figure that service when measured against the “original” order and across all links in the supply chain is probably less than 70%. And that’s being generous.

My experience when purchasing goods and services is that “service” if measured against 100% buyer satisfaction almost never happens. I honestly cannot recall the last product or service I purchased where everything was perfect. Interestingly enough, one of the most critical, overpriced services we all need at one time or another is among the worst. Healthcare. If something like healthcare can’t come close to getting it right, how do we expect a piece of furniture being made from materials sourced on three different continents, partially assembled on two, finally assembled 1000 miles from point of sale, transferred to a distribution center, shipped via truck to a store or warehouse and finally handed off to a delivery service; to actually arrive at your house as originally planned? Somewhere along the way, something will get screwed up and “the plan” will change.

Service these days is a moving target of constantly changing expectations and commitments. Wal-Mart recently came out with a mandate to their suppliers that every order must arrive On Time, In Full (OTIF) or else. Let the games begin. I promise you OTIF will be redefined and renegotiated on virtually every order and the measure of success will be something like musical chairs. When the product is finally delivered and it’s not 100% OTIF, just make sure you’re not the vendor, carrier, or service provider left without a chair. It will become a game of cover your ass, track everything and point fingers.

This is pretty much the way all products and services are delivered. Nothing ever works exactly like it is supposed to. The directions are seldom perfectly clear and when they are, you’re likely to be missing that one nut or washer necessary for final assembly. Your mileage may vary is BS…your mileage WILL vary. Everything breaks down and fails, thus the Warranty business becomes a huge industry just on its own. There are even warranties on top of warranties. So a lot of us end up playing the “warranty lottery” game, buying extra coverage just in case. Warranties are just a way of getting you to pay extra so maybe that washing machine will do what it’s supposed to do for more than five years…maybe.

So whether you are hunting heads or moving stuff around the world or selling something or buying something; you know it never goes as planned. Those of us who worry about everything know that even warranties are only an expensive band-aid that will leave us with a hollow feeling about the quality of our purchase. And after the repair, nothing is ever as good as new, and it wasn’t all that good to begin with. But we can take some comfort that all of our worry and anxiety may help us actually live longer. Now we can start worrying about having enough money saved up to live out those extra golden years.

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