Logistics is Invisible, Until it Isn’t...

A good logistician operates out of sight. A great one is like the Wizard of Oz, orchestrating an amazing choreography somewhere behind the curtain. The fact that great logistics and supply chain functions are generally “invisible” is also a double edged sword. Since logistics and supply chain operations are mostly “invisible,” where do you find the next generation of talent needed to run them?

We’re all familiar with our UPS, FedEx, and USPS deliveries. We all love the real-time notifications and status updates they provide. For the most part, what goes on behind the scenes is invisible – not that that’s always a bad thing.

The instant gratification embodied by the internet and retailers/suppliers is something we all take for granted. The logistics we depend on gets little visibility or attention when it’s working well. We now expect and demand responsive “click-to-bang” order fulfillment and a simple returns process when purchasing items, both in our personal and professional lives.

How all that “logistics” stuff really happens is mostly “invisible” to consumers and customers, but is always on the boss’s radar. In my former life, during combat deployments in Southwest Asia, my boss – in military parlance the Commanding General (CG) – was very dependent on what was going on behind the logistics curtain. And, he appreciated the fact that we did our very best to keep logistics out of sight and out of mind: effective, invisible, and very rarely an issue that negatively impacted operations.

That’s hard to do when your “customers” are always on the move, with no fixed address, and the bad guys are trying to blow up your trucks and disrupt your ability to operate and deliver, if you know what I mean.

As we were finishing our year-long tour of combat duty in Western Iraq, the CG told me that the logistics we provided gave him and his subordinate unit commanders “operational flexibility,” magic words to a military commander. That flexibility made a quantifiable difference in mission success. It meant battlefield commanders got what they needed, when they needed it, where they needed it, and how they needed it, sometimes before they knew they needed it.

Every day Marine Corps and other military logisticians embrace the concept of “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome,” as they provide logistics support to meet the demanding and ever-changing requirements on the battlefield.

You may have some similar challenges, but obviously under very different circumstances. . So, how do you find the talent needed to work in this mostly behind-the-scenes, but critical component of order fulfillment? Where can businesses go to recruit the talent necessary to perform the logistics functions they depend on to meet and exceed customer and internal requirements?

I suggest you consider tapping into a talent-rich pool of available logisticians that you may not be aware of . . .consider looking for and recruiting Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen heading back into the private sector. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of well-trained, disciplined, and globally experienced logisticians transitioning out of successful military service every month. Consider taking advantage of these highly skilled and knowledgeable resources – I think you’ll be pleased with the performance, leadership, experience, and can-do approach they bring to the table.

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