The supply chain in words for 2016

3 January 2017

For a little light relief we have decided to bring you the supply chain in words, rather than numbers, for 2016. Please enjoy responsibly.

Bhag

Abbreviation for ‘Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal’ often set by a zealous, incoming CEO who decides it is essential to make the business more like Google or, worse still, the company they used to work for. Unfortunately, procurement heads and supply chain chiefs are likely to bear the brunt of the pain in such paradigm-shifting situations.

Bigly

Or was Donald Trump really saying ‘big league’? Merriam Webster dictionary confirmed that bigly is a word – albeit a very rarely used adverb – but a campaign spokesman insisted America’s president-elect was saying ‘big league’. Either way it didn’t really matter as Trump defied the polls to win bigly and big league.

Brexit

Whether Britain’s departure from the EU is hard (no free access to the single market) or soft (some access to the single market), pessimists like the Economist magazine insist it will be painful. Much may depend on whether the state of the Eurozone recovery encourages Grexit (quite possible), Frexit (unlikely) or Spexit (a remote possibility – Spain is too broke) while negotiations are ongoing. Much depends on which body the UK government negotiates with: the European Commission is hard line; the European Council is soft.

Coterminous stakeholder engagement

A fancy way of saying ‘talking to people’. Such jargon is, alas, still too common in supply chains and procurement. New entrants to the profession have complained of having conversations that need subtitles, with their colleagues talking to them as if they were an experienced insider. The profession is also bedeviled by a plague of acronyms: ABC, CME, CRM, SRM etc. It’s getting a bit like the scene in Good Morning Vietnam where Robin Williams asks: “As the VP is such a VIP, shouldn’t we keep the PC on the QT? ‘Cause if it leaks to the VC, he could go MIA and we’d be on KP.”

Hygge

The Oxford English Dictionary defines this Danish term as ‘a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality and coziness that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being’. Believed to be the reason Denmark routinely tops the world happiness index, this approach has intrigued many organisations in the UK and US who want to create a cuddlier workplace.

Post-truth

The Oxford English Dictionary’s word of 2016, referring to circumstances where a person’s beliefs or emotions trump facts, has become a political cliché. Mercifully it is yet to spread to the world of supply chains and procurement contracts. Someone who only loves – or promotes – their own opinions is also known as a philodox. Unfortunately, they are common in the world of procurement.

Punch a puppy

A gruesome image to describe doing something that is completely detestable but good for the business. It is at least better than its predecessor – shoot the puppy. The old sporting expression is gentler: ‘Taking one for the team.’

Solve our pythons

The exact opposite of low-hanging fruit, these are the complex, intractable problems that nobody likes landing in their in-tray because they entail a lot of work and little glory. Some managers suggest the best way to deal with these is to weaponise their business processes. Thankfully, most don’t.

Swim Lane

Procurement chiefs may not realise it but this is where they spend much of their career. Swim Lane refers to a specific responsibility within an organisation. The term may have something to do with Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, with 28 medals (23 of them gold), the phrase ‘blue ocean strategy’ or neither of these.

Thought showers

The trendy new version of ‘brainstorming’ which has committed the ultimate faux pas of being around a very long time. It was invented in 1939 by advertising executive Alex F. Osborn who was frustrated at the quality and quantity of ideas staff were generating. Like blue ocean strategy and swim lane, the term thought shower is fashionably watery and has pleasing undertones of environmental friendliness.

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