The following was originally posted on September 10, 2014, and has since found a home on its own page…
I live in Los Angeles and because of that happenstance of geography, I’m spoiled by an endless streak of sunny days, a Pacific that is as blue as it is in Red’s dreams and – every fifth Dodgers’ game – a lights-out Clayton Kershaw start. None of this is jaw dropping. When I moved out here fifteen years ago, I expected to find a radiant paradise chockfull of next level entertainment. What I didn’t expect were the sushi-burrito food trucks and ubiquitous hiking trails that traverse LA County like creases in a Clint Eastwood scowl.
Ask Angelenos about their favorite urban trails and you might hear about Runyon Canyon – which once boasted a mansion that Errol Flynn lived in (and later metastasized into a Charles Manson hideout, local lore would have you believe) that’s 15 minutes from where Oscars are handed out. Or Fryman Canyon – where, if the celestial bodies align just so, you’ll spot Clooney ascend a driveway and disappear before your mortal eyes. Or one of my favorite trails, Paseo Miramar, which hides its trailhead at the back of a Sunset Boulevard neighborhood and where Catalina Island and our planet’s curve eventually emerge as the view. Last Saturday, my family and I trudged up that glorious and dusty incline when my 10-year-old son spotted an aquamarine jewel – the size of a tennis court and the shape of a “D” – cut into the cliffs below us. An infinity pool. While we were borrowing Paseo Miramar’s view of forever, the pool’s titleholder owned it.
“Wouldn’t it be cool,” my son asked, “if technology figured out a way to make a literal infinity pool?” My 7-year-old daughter joined in the conversation that turned into a meander-talk through tangents and puns and hypotheticals, oh my. My wife lingered in the wake of our nonsense and talked grownup talk with her cousin. And somewhere between our footsteps and the eastern coast of Japan, the Pacific Ocean met the sky in a dimension where Sisyphus swims laps without ever reaching a wall to kick-turn against.
And what does any of this have to do with supply chain? It’s difficult to find a graceful segue, I’ll admit. I could go with comparing the endlessness of a theoretical-literal infinity pool to supply chain’s cost of goods, on-time delivery, supplier quality, inventory accuracy and the myriad of other challenges. Or I could go with comparing a company’s supply chain pain points (“we have no idea what our inventory accuracy is and we ship half our orders late”) to the reality distortion that the literal infinity pool suggests. I mean, if Steve Jobs could transform Alexander Graham Bell’s 19th century invention into a pocket-sized USS Enterprise, why can’t your company set unrealistic supply chain goals (100% inventory accuracy, 100% on-time delivery and 30% reduction in cost of goods) and achieve them?
Or I could simply go with the fact that Los Angeles offers more than its share of distractions – and sometimes we need to take five minutes and not think about supply chain, vendors and cycle counts, to simply stare at the horizon and wonder. And to hear that 10-year-old voice inside of us offer a suggestion that might change the world.