Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Marriage Counselling by The Logistics Project

Just recently we have been hitting the Twittersphere with a number of our Resource Notebooks.  They cover Job Descriptions, Common Forms and we are even starting to build some local work instructions into a generic manual that you can customise to fit your operation.  It has been a lot of fun working with some great platforms to start creating a really useful free archive of logistics resources.

"I may be at risk of gushing
like Huka Falls, NZ"
Big thanks go to www.macmost.com, www.lucidchart.com and www.evernote.com for their ingenuity and generosity in getting materials out there.  We don't know these folk personally but Gary at MacMost is amazing at getting our wee laptops working to their optimum!  Lucidchart is that tool that you always wanted to draw flow charts on; and generously they have a free account which allows you to draw simple diagrams.  Evernote is simply an amazing resource, we have a paid account with them so we can upload lots of information for you but you can access all this free because they aren't parochial about it!  Anyway gushing out of the way let's get on with the marriage counselling.

Why am I talking about marriage counselling?  Surely this is more diversification than is truly necessary?  There are no impending nuptials on the celebrity horizon.  There is no stress between me and Mrs L at Lamb Towers.   It is actually the publishing of our notebooks that has prompted me to conduct a little bit of marriage counselling; you see the notebooks are full of rules, and formula and systems.  Now rules and formula and systems are all good for making things tick over but rules are never as important as the relationship!  WHAT?!?!?! I may get excluded from some arcane loggie brethren for saying this but it is true.

Mrs L and I are heading towards our fifth anniversary and are happily married but it has unquestionably been a journey to get here.  This is not me pouring out my soul in a blog; but you come to marriage with an agenda and a set of rules that you picked up from your family.   Do you open your Christmas presents before or after Christmas lunch, who runs the family bank account, are public displays of affection a good thing or gross these are all questions you assume have a universal answer....not so!!  You may remember that I had a habit of whipping my clothes off the very second I got in from work, well I don't any longer!  Let's not talk about our first year and try to work out social scheduling, dates nights, friend nights, quiet nights, cleaning nights trying to regulate it just didn't work!

"Do not deploy the nuclear option"
Where am I going with this?  Simply this when you find yourself entrenched in a position of defending the rules of building a relationship with the operator you are trying to support you are quite simply in the wrong.....always and unequivocally.... your point may be right; but if you are allowing that relationship to deteriorate you have lost.  I say this having worked with Mr "I am a successful programme manager and I will do it my own way" and Ms "This is not the way we did it in a large and impressive agency" so I know that at 400th time of hearing you are reaching for the nuclear option!

William Wilberforce
I encourage you flip the safety back on and cover the little red button and take the approach of one of my heroes.  William Wilberforce was credited as abolishing slavery in the UK and I in no way want to detract from that reputation but I do want to make an observation.  In 1826 Wilberforce nearly died through illness many have thought brought on by unsuccessful combative attempts to abolish slavery.  The act finally passed in 1833, sadly Wilberforce died 3 days later.  In these 7 years there was a huge change in the approach of Wilberforce and his friends to abolishing slavery. They moved from legislation to education.  They had realised that you needed to stay in relationship with those that feared the change, engaging in those fears understanding them and gently "hugging" them away.   You may feel I am demeaning his achievements by putting them alongside some logistics conundrum you are facing; but I think the greatness of the lesson we can learn from Wilberforce is that it can be applied so broadly to any area of conflict.  

All too often in consultancies I find that the ops and logs teams have ceased to communicate over an issue of rules or legislation.  The truth is that if the rules don't reflect the aspirations and understandings of the whole community they will just create rule breakers. Engage with those who flout the rules and build the relationship and you will be surprised to see that the objectives of the rule can be achieved through relationship.  So if your marriage with the operators in your organisation is looking as though it is heading for the rocks The Logistics Project is always ready to act as The Love Doctor.  We are only too happy to deploy a little love!!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Getting excited about tech....... oh and a little bit of fashion.

I know I have been bad at posting over the olympic/paralympic period but I have come away a little inspired.  David Rudisha's world record?  Usain Bolt?  The Jamaican 1,2,3 in the 200m? Perhaps something more British .... Mo Farah, Jess Ennis or perhaps David Weir.


It is Dave Brailsford of GB cycling.  Yes I have come away inspired by an administrator rather than an athlete.  "Oh no.....this is going to be dull post" - I hear you thinking -  granted it may not have the hilarity of our Valentine's day special or achieve the popularity of The Logistics of Socks. Mr. Brailsford (Dave) has however inspired me to look at the tech that we use.  He is renowned for looking for the technological advances in other industries and sports and looking for ways to apply them to cycling, he brought swimming coaches in, had rubberised plastic suits constructed for track cycling and convinced the French sports paper L'Equipe that Team Sky were riding "round wheels" to gain an advantage.

You may remember back in The Logistics Project's Inner Geek is Out we looked at some of the very cool apps we had found on the iPad that made our day run a little bit more smoothly, as well as the incredibly exciting laser measure (all very James Bond if you ask me).  Well this post is not so different in that we have found a few more apps that we are very fond of and some really top notch kit!

TODO by Appigo

If I am honest this blog is appearing courtesy of Todo, never quite satisfied with iCal or Outlook for managing task (maybe that's just me) Todo has made the office hum with efficiency.  What is the beauty of it.....well firstly it is very visual which works for me, secondly it syncs across iPhone, iPad and MacBook.......but hold one there it also syncs across PC and notionally I guess you can use any smart phone's web browser to access the online version....dah dah!!!  It completely outstrips the proprietary competition.  Add to this that Todo Pro is in Beta Testing which allows further functionality and collaboration and you have our APP of the hour!!

WORMS2 by Team 17

I confess not a productivity tool but more a procrastination tool, if you are done with Angrybirds but spend a lot of time on aircraft, in airports or, in our case, customs offices waiting out the customs officer.  Worms2 can make you appear productive if no one can see over your shoulder.

NB:  If you have an addictive personality this may not be the game for you....

Destiny Pen by Destiny Wireless 

This is my truly Dave Brailsford moment...well actually I bumped into Mr Destiny - aka Phill -  socially,  I wasn't really researching hi tech in other sectors... but that doesn't stop me from claiming it.  The destiny pen records what you write and then converts it into a digital record saving you having to convert a whole pile of hand written forms into meaningful data.  Destiny even work through building the forms and databases with you. Apparently National Health Services in the UK use it quite extensively as do a lot of courier firms looking for a cheaper alternative to handheld terminals for proof of delivery.  Having worked on all sorts of relief and development projects it struck me that as a community we spend a lot of time entering data onto excel that we captured on paper, whether it be camp registrations, recording the location of mines for clearance, writing up electronic medical records. The beauty is that the pen can transfer the data securely over the mobile phone network to a cloud based server in far away safe place.....nice.  Tech in the field is often a risk, as loss is a big financial blow but these units are a 10th of the cost of a PDA and don't have the cachet to encourage theft.  I know this is a geeky love but the fact you can write it on a piece of paper and it populates a database gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.  I can't tell you where to buy them but Phill seems a nice enough chap and I am sure wouldn't mind me handing out his details.

Dubarry Shoes

"Big shoes to fill...My Dubarrys nearing retirment"
I know we are not a fashion blog but I am about to wax lyrical about a pair of shoes.  As a man who has spent a little time in the field some might think there are few fashion quandaries to be had.  This simply isn't true.  Shoes was my thing where do you find a pair of shoes that work as well trudging around the deserts of Northern Sudan as they do attending a Presidential reception in Haiti.  I stumbled across Dubarry in a sale and bought them because they were cheap but I have to say this trusty pair of shoes has withstood a serious old battering and with a little love still scrub up well. I bought them as office wear for Ghana and very nicely they did too little did I know that they would come into their own as our HQ in Haiti was destroyed by wind and torrential rain.  Caked in mud, I lived in these shoes for two days with not so much as a blister but the most amazing thing was that after once over with a stiff brush and quick wash I was wearing them to President Preval's house without the slightest hint of their previous 48hours.  I know it is a Log Blog but I have to say the great philosopher, Forrest Gump, once said "Momma always says there's an awful lot you could tell about a person by their shoes. "

Anyway, that is broken the drought of posting!  Dr Tony Roath, (University of Bath, School Of Management) has agreed to give us a few lines on Supply Chain matters and this man is no crusty academic he flew F15's for a living!!! So there a few things to look forward, also keep your eyes on The Logistics Project website as we should have some pretty cool product announcements to make in the next month or so.  I''ll tip you off when they happen, have fun logisticking!!