Those of you who are baseball fans know that the greatest closer in baseball – Mariano Rivera – retired from the game this season (mind you I am a diehard Red Sox fan so that was hard for me to write). Rivera was a model of consistency in excellence – since 1995 the pitcher known as the Sandman accumulated some gaudy statistics:
- 652 saves
- 2.21 ERA
- 82 wins
- 1173 strikeouts
- 1.00 WHIP
- Oh and 5 World Series rings
His post season statistics are at an even greater plateau of excellence: 0.70 ERA, 8 wins and 42 saves…and those 5 World Series titles. To honour his retirement the Yankees decided to give away bobble heads during one of his last home games. Unfortunately the management of the supply chain was
opposite of how Mariano pitched. It was an unmitigated disaster.
Supposedly there was a break down in the logistics; the truck delivering the inventory broke down on the New Jersey turnpike. Fans arriving at Yankee stadium were met with no available bobble heads, were given vouchers and asked to come back later during the game to collect their tchotchkes. Of course this being the Bronx, there were fights amongst the fans, long lines and people missing the game as they waited for their bobble head. All this caused by a simple truck breaking down on the highway…not an uncommon disruption in supply chain.
So what lessons can we learn from this?
· Do better planning! The night of the give-away was known for months if not a year, everyone know that Mariano was retiring this season. The Yankees had plenty of time to plan the manufacturing and delivery of the items. But clearly their plan did not leave much buffer for any potential pitfalls – like a broken down truck.
· Weigh the costs of not being able to have inventory on time with the cost of warehousing the inventory. Would it really have been that difficult for the Yankee to have the shipments arrive a week early? Would their “warehousing” costs have been that great? I highly doubt it. Maybe they were afraid that the stock would suffer from shrinkage prior to the give-away.
· Have a plan in place to respond to potential supply chain outages. Trucks break down, factory manufacturing suffers unforeseen down time, points of entry suffer from labour strikes, and natural disasters cause interruptions. The Yankees had a plan, but it did not seem very well thought out – forcing the paying audience to leave their seats to wait in line for something they should have received upon entering the ball park not a good plan. Why not let people get their bobble head dolls on the way out of the park? Plus that would have guaranteed everyone stayed until the end of the game!
What is fascinating about what happened with the Yankees is that it was a microcosm of problems that can strike your supply chains. The problems with inventory management, transportation, and the desire for just in time all blew up under the weight of one truck, broken down on the Jersey turnpike.
Unlike Mariano, the Yankees did not demonstrate superior execution when it came to the bobble head give away. The Yankee closer was relentless in his ability to come into a game with a plan – throw that cutter and get people out. His ability to execute to that plan led to his gaudy statistics.
Unfortunately the Yankees supply chain for bobble head dolls looked more like Byung-Hyun Kim from the 2001 World Series – all over the place, not executing properly and leading to a minor disaster.