Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The Great Myth.......and lycra clad athletes.

It is olympic year and I think we need some sporting imagery but I don't want to be gratuitous about it.  I want to pick a team going to London 2012 and build a blog post round them and somehow the Great British Rhythmic Gymnastics Team is going to bring us to The Great Myth.

"Gymnasts striving to prove a logistical point"
"Surely this is just a cheap excuse for pictures of females, what possibly can these lycra clad athletes teach us about logistics", I hear you cry.

They refute The Great Myth....... a myth so old and engrained in lay logistics thinking that it has almost become a gospel.....without question it has been a mantra of both commercial and not for profit institutions all over the world. Today we at The Logistics Project expose it for the lie that it  is.  Those of a nervous disposition should look away now as we reveal it in all its ugliness.....


"I challenge you not to wince a little"
There......I said it, and you too may have said it; and if you have ....we forgive you.  To me it is the greatest fallacy in the operational world.  The more flexible and dynamic your output the less you can afford not to have a structured system and my gymnastic friends here prove it.

No one would argue that the three fine athletic specimens here show anything less than the utmost flexibility.  I think we can safely say the ability to place your head between you knees in a back bend is beyond the needs of day to day life....but I welcome comments for those who can think of a mundane use for it.

But what allows them to do this is below the lycra, beyond the flesh, the muscles and is the skeleton....and here we have our myth busting analogy.  The institution is very similar to a human body; an institution has constituent parts that allow it to perform its operational function.  Perhaps we can break it down very simply to this:
"There are better way to suspend a ball 50cm above the floor"

Back Bend= Output

Skeleton = System

Muscles = Production/Logistics

Tendons = Auditors/Quality Staff

Flesh & Lycra = Sales and Marketing

Without a skeleton there is no way you would be able to perform a back bend.  The muscle would have nothing to pivot around to bring the desired effect, tendons would lie in the same slack heap and the flesh and lycra would hold the whole sorry mess together.

It is important that your institutional systems skeletal structure is sound to allow your operational muscle engage to perform the exceptional production and logistics feats that you require.  Necessarily you need the tendons of auditors and quality staff to keep the whole thing in check and the beautifully turned out sales and marketing team to keep the working parts from necessarily distracting the client from the actual output.

But to finish there would be half the story, take the picture just above.  The caption says it all, if you wanted to regularly suspend a ball 50cm above the floor surface you would not design an implement such as the human body to do it.   Most of us will have looked at the above pictures and thought "it is just not natural!!!".  It is a correct that a system needs to work in tension but working at that level of tension for long periods suggests that the structure is wrong.  Quite often the outcome of that realisation is to scrap the structure rather than to engineer it or look at how it is used.  If I were to want to use the human body to suspend a ball 50cm above the floor I would most probably recommend a forward bend or even a kneeling position with the ball held out in front.  The same skeletal structure used with different muscles in a different way to achieve the same objective but without the "ouch" factor.

An example of this would be a situation I found myself in.  My boss tasked me to put in a Logistics IT terminal on the far side of the runway from our logistics base.  His outline plan was to take a large team of men and dig a 5 mile communications trench around the runway....."ouch".  Instead we looked at the team we had assembled and equipment and chose to use  a diamond disc cutter to make a 2mm groove in the runway surface to place the communications cable in and then PVU glued over it.  I filled out the same requisition forms for my solution as I would have for my boss' solution but applied our operational muscle in a different way.

So whenever you hear that terrible myth consider donning your lycra and disproving the assertion I guarantee they won't ask you again!

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