Mark's Memo - Decisions and Drama

They can do some damage. Comets, made of ice and dust, come in all sizes. A typical comet measures 10 miles in diameter but its tail can be 1 million miles, even up to 100 million miles, long. The tail is made of ion gas and dust. It can do no harm.

We had both comet and tail in recent conversations about retail inventory. Inventory decisions can so easily be based on emotions—that’s equivalent to the tail of the comet.  I refer to this as drama. Emotion-based purchasing decisions are often triggered by fear of running out. So we overorder and hope that no one gets on our case about excess inventory. Drama.

On the other hand we have facts, which are represented by the comet itself. Facts have impact. They also help us make wise decisions. The difference between fact-based decisions and emotional decisions shows up in the language of the buyer. Emotion-driven terminology includes “I think,” “I feel,” and “We always.” Fact-based language uses “data driven,” “inventory turns,” and “velocity.”

While both types of buyers are sensitive to the needs of their customers, their purchase orders differ—a lot. The fact-based buyer realizes a 100% fill-rate is impossible and instead orders to avoid running out of “A list” (highest volume) and “B list” items. These buyers realize a shelf-hole on those products will frustrate a large number of people. And they’ll never get stuck with these items.

The tail is the dazzle of a comet and easily mistaken as the comet itself. But science shows us the difference. Science also tells us comets are predictable; Halley’s Comet orbits every 75 years—next coming in 2061. Comets in the workplace are also predictable. We always have fact; we always have drama. Job #1: Know the difference.

-Mark Coblentz

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