We first ran this film, “Force Multiplication Through Cross Training”, back in January of 2019, primarily to alert the golf industry to the possibility of another recession. We included an important strategy, taken from special ops, for creating a sustainable labor force capable of withstanding a major economic reset. Although the film encountered resistance, possibly due to “Normalcy Bias”, the Bat-Flu demonstrated how easily a recession can surface, especially in an overly complex economic structure.
Along with the downturn comes another unexpected consequence, that being a disruption in our supply lines. From a military viewpoint, when supply lines are cut relatively close to the area where the supplies are needed, the effects are felt immediately. Those same effects, like shortages, panic buying and the rest, can also be corrected pretty quickly when the lines are restored.
When supply lines are cut far away from the area of operations, the effects are not felt right away. However, when the shortages do begin, they typically last a long time. Our current supply lines are very long, with huge percentages of things we need coming from Asia. Whether it’s machine parts or pharmaceuticals, (supposedly 90% or more produced in China) a disruption of several months might require twice that time to return to previous levels.
Like many of you, I monitor the various business indexes, although I tend to ignore the big ones, as they seem more like theatre. Some are heavily manipulated, probably to keep ignorant common folk like myself calm. But there is one index that indicates what’s happening in the supply lines: The BALTIC DRY INDEX. While it’s too complex for my simple mind, this index measures cargo, ships, costs, demand and other factors related to shipping.
The Baltic Dry is currently really low . . . you could even say catatonic.
It brings to mind what H. Ross Perot said back in ‘92 about “that giant sucking sound”, a reference to losing American jobs on the altar of globalism. If we had listened, perhaps we might have retained a greater share of production here in the US and that would mean shorter supply lines, a stronger tax base and a busy workforce.
I’m not advocating stockpiling restroom paper, but I would suggest that you don’t wait for the B.O.D. and their accountants to show up demanding to know where the budget cuts are, and what priority level has been established. Prepare contingency plans by wargaming with your staff, looking for ways to offset supply line shortages and revenue shortfalls.
Opportunity often presents itself in tough times. I suspect there are a number of brilliant, innovative individuals in this industry who could step in and design, fabricate and produce what is needed . . . especially if they didn’t have to compete with corporate slave labor from a communist country. Local and regional production could solve the problems of global supply line disruption and perhaps even bring improvements in quality and manufacturer accountability.
If we find ourselves in a serious economic reset, let’s not give in to self pity, moaning about what we lost . . . let’s look for opportunities. Let’s fix things. Maybe start with that Just In Time inventory philosophy thought up by accountants incarcerated in airless cubicles.
I can still remember walking into Turf Are Us to get some bedknives, and being told, “NO BEDKNIVES IN STOCK, BUT WE CAN AIR FREIGHT IT TO YA, $75 FOR OVERNIGHT, PLUS $23 RESTOCKING FEE, BE THERE WEDNESDAY.”
Before they ejected me, I hollered, “But I need those today! And a restocking fee? You didn’t have it in stock to begin with!”
It took a while for me to understand that JIT was a clever scheme to transfer inventory storage costs to the buyer. I'll bet there are probably other devious supply line schemes out there we could dismantle with some creative thinking . . . and if you have a few minutes, watch this film again.