Superbowl Edition: 3 Reasons Peyton Manning would Run an Excellent Supply Chain

(By Mike Raftery)

The confetti has settled, trophies kissed and ring sizes are being taken.  Time for clichés!

As a football fan, and former Indianapolis resident, I am a Peyton loyalist (sorry Brady-lovers).  I was there for the first Superbowl, saw Peyton around the town, and have followed his journey to Denver.  Watching him win his final(?) championship reminded me that he’s great at what he does.  He even makes it look easy.  So I have to wonder, how would his skills on the field transfer to my gig as a supply chain consultant?  I know that’s an odd correlation, but hear me out.

Here’s why Peyton Manning would run an excellent supply chain:

  1. He Knows How to Call an Audible

Omaha, Omaha, Blue 42, set Hike.  One of Peyton’s best traits is his ability to read the defense in front of him, and take the play they give him and then make the best of the situation.  This is one of the keys to a great supply chain consultant: being adaptable, adjusting to what the scenario is, and most importantly, seeing the situation for what it is, not what you wish it to be.

That means adjusting to things like forecast accuracy as they are, not as you wish them to be.  Planning to the demonstrated production rates, not an aspirational rate that will never materialize.  Everyone wants to get better, but planning means accommodating reality while you work towards improvement.  If inventory goes bad, a line breaks, or a truck drives into a ditch, you need to address, react and do the best you can.  Sometimes that only means a 2 yard gain, but a 2 yard gain is better than an 8 yard loss.

  1. He Knows that Preparation is Key

Peyton is known to be obsessive when it comes to pregame preparation.  He watches tape, reviews his own performances, and obsesses over the details.  The in depth preparation allows him to find opportunities that others do not, and exploit them for the slightest advantage.

Preparation really is the key to supply chain success.  That means alignment as well.  Getting the safety stock right, getting demand aligned with sales, ensuring capacity represents the plant projects.  It means looking for issues not just on finished goods, but also little components.  It means looking for reality no matter the impact, and making the best of it.  Ignoring problems and delaying reactions will not solve anything, they just postpone the inevitable.

  1. He Trusts His Teammates

This is the big one. He trusts his teammates.  In the case of the Superbowl, he trusted his defense and Von Miller to win the game.  After getting the lead, he trusted the defense to hold the line and he didn’t lose the game.  This is a crucial part to running a supply chain: knowing your role and trusting others to do theirs.

If you trust in the forecast, you can plan to it.  If you trust the calculations, you don’t build “extra” stock.  If you trust the rates that the plants provide, you can put together a feasible schedule.  Trust in each other, and share the truth and the total plan will be better overall.  Every time one team doesn’t trust the next, they compensate for the gap with extra inventory, extra time on the lines, and extra shipments.  Trust in your team and you’ll all benefit in the long term.

An obligatory Superbowl blog, of course (stay tuned for the obligatory election blog), sure, but there are commonalities across any measure of success.  Stay flexible, prepare, and trust your team.  I don’t think it matters what situation you find yourself in, the global sporting event of the year, or just running a growing supply chain consulting firm, it takes the same components to be successful anywhere you go.

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