Tiger Woods, S&OP and Elephants


As Tiger Woods s1lowly recedes from visibility in today’s fast paced, polyphonic, multi-media environment, I am driven to identify some sort of meaning in it all.   And, in a world in which bits, bytes and terabytes of data stream before us daily this is no easy task.  Living in an age when global conflict shares a table with global social networking, creating personal connections has become the Holy Grail.  On occasion connections do occur.  When this happens the information that fog my life temporarily lifts.  So, ending a long day immersed in Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP),  I ponder — do S&OP, Tiger Woods and Elephants share something in common?

At its best, a highly collaborative, data-driven Sales and Operations Planning process creates visibility.  The consequences of bad choice become clear.  And, elephants sitting in the room – or perhaps obsolescent inventory lying in a warehouse – cannot be avoided.  In good S&OP scenarios are created, alternatives examined, and the path forward is understood.  Often, the process of S&OP itself surfaces important issues that might otherwise have been missed.  Were there early indications of bad choice in Tiger Wood’s behavior?  Was his life story of discipline and perfection to good to be true?  Was there an elephant in the room all along that we were all ignoring?

We all love a hero.  And of course, we seek to avoid unpleasant experience.  While the world worshipped Tiger, Tiger was spending his energy struggling to contain a boiling maelstrom of problems. There indeed was an elephant in Tiger’s room and neither he nor the rest of the world was willing to confront this painful fact until the elephant crashed through the house.  The good news is that life will go on for the rest of us and Tiger will survive the storm.

However, in today’s troubled economy, corporate executives cannot afford to ignore the elephant’s in the room.  There is no room for bad choice.  Constant vigilance and decisive action are imperative.  Sales and Operations Planning is a process that can elucidate the elephant in the room.  Moreover, Steelwedge S&OP drives better decision making and good choice.  Did a major customer in a remote region of the world just cancel a major order?  If so, how should we react?  Should we discount aging inventory before promoting new products?  Can we improve profitability with a different price structure?  The answer to these questions is the fuel that powers successful corporate governance.  And, indeed the story of Tiger Woods, Elephants and S&OP provides an important message.

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