Tips & Quips
Thursday 24th May 2018

Tips & Quips

These are the accumulated sayings of managers, directors, consultants and friends.
They were originally playing cards produced for those new to the subject.
They were so well liked that the idea just grew.

Although christened 'Bill's Tips and Quips', they aren't all Bill's!

We add to them all the time. If you have a favourite 'gee, that's a really helpful insight' then share it. Use the Contact Us… page


Click the subject tabs below

Project Management

We're a team. We're all working together to do it my way (Phil Wise)

Lead, follow, or get out of the way (US Marines, adopted by Ted Turner)

If the mission statement doesn't fit on a T shirt, it's too long (Ron LaFleur) The greatest project undertaken by man was launched in 35 words. "I am asking congress and the country for a commitment … $531m in fiscal '62; $5 to $7 billion in the next 10 years. By the end of the decade … we should go to the moon" (JFK, May 1961) The project was completed on time, met the specification, and overspent by 400%. Crucially, the successive overspends were well managed, and went largely unremarked.

Project Success

We (consultants) can't do it to you and can't do it for you. We can only do it with you. At the end of the project, all the KPIs will be going the right way and will continue doing so after we have left.

Something will change, we don't know what. Start thinking about your project manager and implementation now, not later.

More than half of all consultancy assignments need a an early restatement of the goals. The most common reasons include symptoms hiding problems, poor process or process accuracy, and multiple causes - usually in different functional silos. (If problems had a single cause you'd likely have found and fixed it yourselves.)

The 'icing' on logistics improvements should come from doing right things. In practice 60% of improvements happen when we stop doing wrong things.


Economists have successfully predicted 9 of the last 5 recessions. (Jan Symankiewicz)

On small numbers, the error in deriving the forecast is almost as great as the error in believing it.

We've looked at forecast accuracy in isolation. When we look at the costs of altering the plan after a change in forecast, we get a very different picture.

Where the cost of getting some changes right is outweighed by the costs of getting others wrong, don't re-forecast.

We often get better result with forecasting switched off.

Only forecast small numbers if you have no other method.

We should leak this (top secret) forecast to the competition - it's already done too much damage in house.

The rate of use for this product (disposable operating theatre supplies) is absolutely flat. If the demand is lumpy, it's something we are doing to ourselves (and it was!).

There's widespread belief that forecasting effort equals success 'because it should'. Mark Twain warns… "What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know. It's what we know for sure that just ain't so."

Also George Bernard Shaw "…in the absence of good grounds for belief, [Man] will be satisfied with bad ones."

Innovation & Vision

Man's desires are limited by his perceptions; none can desire what he has not perceived. (William Blake 1757-1827)

On the failure to innovate or implement "Survival is not compulsory"

(Of IT) We already have free processing and infinite bandwidth, the only limit is now our imagination.

(Of the need for debate) We don't agree on everything. I don't agree with myself on everything. (Rudy Giuliani, New York Mayor)

Steering Committees meddle, it's built in to their name. We ought to call them 'Destination' Committees instead. (Jeff Hawkes.) On reflection, maybe 'Destination & Resourcing' would be even better?

Training & Education

If we only educate the youngsters, we'll get better just one funeral at a time

If you think training is expensive, try incompetence.

Learning is about drawing something out, not pushing something in. We're here to learn. Training is something you do to dogs.


It isn't about how clever we are, it's about how clever we can make our clients (Richard Bennett)

We cross pollinate. Our task is to infect the organisation with best practice.

It is difficult to get someone to understand something when their reputation or career depends on them not understanding it. (After Upton Sinclair)


Virtual stock - the use of time between order and delivery to replace stock with activity.

Replacing inventory with information. (various)

The Midlands used to measure success by the length of their order book. In other words, by how long they kept their customers waiting. Have you been to the Midlands recently?

More stocks are set by shouting than by science

If we think (more) stock is the 'magic bullet' we're holding the gun the wrong way round.

Batch size (including EBQ, EOQ and pack size) keeps a lot of badly designed supply chains in stock.

The 80's taught us to say yes to our customers. Nobody can turn that clock back. The trick now is to say yes to customers with many different needs, and to make money on each one.

The Supply Chain

Stretches all the way from your supplier's suppliers to your customer's customers (Widely quoted, probably coined by AT Kearney)

Time (to resupply) is the most overlooked and often the most important factor in balancing stock, service level, obsolescence, markdowns and leftovers. (Bill Brockbank)
Hear also Andy Warhol … You can never have enough 'speed' (Although I'm not sure he was talking about logistics!)

If future competition is between global supply chains (Prof Martin Christopher & others) and we want companies to concentrate on their core skills, then we'll need to work with an ever changing mix of specialist partners.

We have concentrated on standalone professionalism, and some warehouses, transport operations, buying or planning departments (etc) are indeed very good. Yet it's often true that saving pennies in one department reduces profit by pounds. In a real example the additional profit from an 'integrated, whole chain' view did much more than covering the incremental logistics costs. It dwarfed the entire logistics budget.

The future includes collaboration with your competitors; or 'co-opetition' (MD, Frontline Distribution)

One person with conviction is a majority.
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