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The InventoryOps lame lists are intended to
provide a little comic relief to your internet research. It's my way of
pointing out humorous tidbits related to the office, consulting, business
software, general business, inventory management, and warehouse
operations that I find funny, annoying, or just plain stupid. I'd like to point
out that I am not trying to be mean (well, maybe just a little) or suggest that there is anything wrong
with any product or service that may be associated with items on my lame
lists. Nor am I suggesting that I or my site are immune from being lame from
time to time. It just makes us all feel better to occasionally make fun of
others and ourselves —
but mostly others.
Update: The economy is
killing my lame lists.
If you noticed there
hasn't been much new stuff on my Lame Lists, it's not my fault. Apparently,
in a down economy businesses start focusing on the basics of just keeping
their business in business. First, the arrogance and big egos that are
present when business is good, all seem to go into hibernation. Well, hell,
that's where I get most of my material. Then the trade magazines—that
normally are hyping the next new thing you need to invest in to maintain
your world-class status—start focusing on the basics as well, because nobody
is buying next-new-thing hype right now. Where's the fun in that?
So as much as I like seeing
this more practical approach to business, it's a little disappointing to see
a lack of new material for my lame lists. Fortunately—or
has a way of coming back (kind of like herpes) so it's just a matter of
Quick links to Lame Categories
You just may be Lame if:
Lame Ads and Pics
More Lame Stuff
may be Lame if:
You have on more than one occasion used the
phrase, "failure is not an option".
Every person you encounter gets stuck with one
of your business cards.
You've worked for years developing your
You judge others by their handshaking technique
(unless, of course, you encounter one of those guys with the really soft, squishy, wet,
A Dale Carnegie course changed your life.
When asked a question you don't know the answer
to or don't want to answer, you've trained yourself to say things like "I
appreciate that ..." or "that's a very good question..." and then attempt to
give the perception of answering the question without actually answering it.
You started requiring your coworkers to call you
by your initials rather than your name.
You study up on sports in which you have no
interest just because they may come up as a topic in conversation.
You're self-employed, have no employees or
partners, and list yourself as "President" on your business cards.
You have used, or considered using an image
consultant to help in your career.
You've read more than one book written by a CEO.
You don't read books written by CEOs, but you do
buy them and display them prominently in your office.
You find that spending your company's money
makes you feel powerful.
You measure your success by the number of people
you can now force to kiss your ass.
You measure your success by the titles of the
people whose asses you kiss.
You regularly update your resume regardless of
your employment status.
You make business decisions based upon how they
will read in your resume.
You've wondered if wearing suspenders would
make you look more professional.
You're constantly telling people you're a
"type-A personality", thinking it impresses them. You've even studied up on
the characteristics of type-A personalities and tried to emulate them. The
truth is, you're not a type-A, instead you're a type-A wannabe who's too
stupid to realize that type-A personalities are really just compulsive
pricks. Which makes you a textbook example of a type-L (lame) personality.
You have a preferred brand of bottled water.
You've seen every business movie ever made and
your DVD collection contains both Wall Street and Barbarians
at the Gate.
You believe sounding like you know what you are
talking about is more important than actually knowing what you are talking
When people disagree with you, you accuse them
of "not being team players".
You've created fake versions of your company's
organizational chart, showing yourself in higher positions.
You've convinced yourself the reason your
coworkers don't like you is due to their jealousy of your success.
You like to do that thing where you pretend your
hand is a pistol and use it to shoot people as a way of saying "hey there".
Even worse, you use both hands (as two pistols) and add a wink, a nod, and a
"click click" sound.
You believe everything posted on the internet
must have an underlying profit motive to it. (Inspired by an email I received from someone that was certain I was using my
lame lists to sell something even though there is nothing advertised on the
page. Man, I thought I was cynical.)
You've substituted the word "opportunity" for
"problem", or used it in reference to someone losing their job.
You started attending church because you thought
there may be some networking opportunities there.
You walk around in airports, hotel lobbies, and
conference areas talking very loudly into a cell phone (or worse yet, a
headset) because you think it makes strangers believe you are important.
When asked what your company does, your answer
starts with your company's annual sales or the phrases "a leading", "a
fortune", or "a blue chip".
You feel that a specific business practice is
unethical or illegal only if you get caught.
You look for any opportunity to bring up your
"personal success plan" in conversations and are amazed when you find others
have not fully documented their personal success plans.
You're the guy that frequently bogs down
otherwise productive meetings by initiating unnecessary arguments about the
technically incorrect use of a term or phrase by someone in the meeting even
though everyone clearly understood what the person meant and the term or
phrase is regularly used with this "technically incorrect" meaning.
(inspired by an email I received from a guy that got upset when people
referred to Item Numbers as Part Numbers)
You blame your having been passed over for
promotion on your boss's fear of your success.
You blame your not being accepted for a position
on the fact that you are overqualified.
You've scanned a photo of your company's
executive team into your computer and then Photoshopped your image into the
You're an air putter. You know, one of those
people that seem to think any time is a good time for an imaginary golf
swing. Because, of course, the ability to play golf has a direct
correlation to one's business skills; and your superiors and peers are
certain to recognize your potential when they see you sink your pretend
You feel the implementation of a casual Friday
program at your company undermines your personal dress-for-success strategy.
You hang "show-up" certificates on your wall.
show-up certificate is a certificate you receive for attending (showing up
for) an event such as a seminar or workshop where no evaluation was made to
determine whether or not you actually learned anything.
Your entire self-worth is measured by your job
You like to think of yourself as a perfectionist
and take pride in using phrases such as "you'll have to bear with me, I'm a
perfectionist" or " I can't help it, I'm a perfectionist". You may
also use your self-proclaimed perfectionist status as another excuse for why
you are generally disliked by coworkers.
You've used the term "traction" when referring
to the popularity of an idea, technology, or strategy.
You can't get through any conversation about
processes within your current company without referring to how things were
done at your previous employer's operations.
You have prepared an "interesting personal
story" for any potential topic that may come up in conversation.
You've taken other people's interesting personal
stories and adopted them as your own.
You think mentioning that you never check your
luggage when traveling impresses people.
You not only watch Donald Trump's reality show
The Apprentice , you also take notes!
You intentionally use obscure industry terms or
acronyms in conversations with people that would likely not be familiar with
them as a means of intimidation or to give the appearance that you know more
than they do.
You've joined a "Young Professionals"
organization or any other professional organization that is not associated
with a specific industry or discipline. This would include organizations
specifically for women professionals, retired professionals, professionals
with hats, height-challenged professionals, professionals with poor hygiene,
bow-tie wearing professionals, etc.
You've used the phrase "there's no I in team".
You spend more time networking than WORKING!
You've recently been trying to learn as much as possible
about your current company's operations (a change from your usual "ignorance
is bliss" approach) because you plan on using that knowledge to get a
job with the competition.
You disagree with a method or strategy, but
rather than providing reasoning for your disagreement you just say something
like: "I'm accustomed to doing it this way" or "I'm used to this" or you
spout out your qualifications such as "I've been doing this for ______ years
(fill in with a number of years greater than those of others in the
meeting)" or "I used to manage a ________ (fill in the blank with an
operation that is larger than the one you are currently discussing)."
Your assumption is that these statements will intimidate the others
into seeing things your way without actually having to back up "your way"
with even a minimal explanation.
You consider standing in line for a movie a
great opportunity to hand out your business cards.
You think maintaining a lame list on your
website will convince others that you are not lame.
Back to Top
Cynical Dave's Lame Vocabulary.
These are terms or phrases that fit into my
definition of Lame. You are most likely to bump into these terms when
someone is trying to sell you something (an idea, product, or service).
Some are reasonable terms or phrases that are simply overused, while others
are completely unnecessary. I am not trying to censor anyone's vocabulary, but there is such a thing as
abuse of a word or phrase. I lay the blame not necessarily on those who first used these
words or phrases in the context of business management, but rather with those
that frequently repeat them in an effort to sound profound.
Paradigm. As in Changing paradigms,
Paradigm shift, New paradigm. So what the hell is a paradigm,
why are they always changing and shifting, and is there anything we can do to
stop them? Consultants, writers, salesmen, and speakers love this word, they
like to use it to try to convince you that something dramatic is happening and
you're missing the boat. A Google search resulted in approximately 3
million documents containing the word Paradigm. I think that qualifies as
overuse. As a point of reference, the phrase "inventory management" only
returned 600,000 documents.
Sea change. This one is used
similarly to "changing paradigm" to indicate a significant change is
occurring. Throughout the history of business, I can only think of a few
things that could be considered significant change: mass production,
globalization, computer technology and the internet. That's about it!
In fact, I don't even think globalization can be considered a "changing
paradigm" or "sea change" since commerce has been global for centuries.
Everything else is pretty much the same.
Watershed moment. For those of you
that feel the terms paradigm or sea change didn't quite meet your needs for
your next lame speech or article, try using watershed moment instead. Better
yet, use all three.
Profit center. This term is increasingly
replacing the term "cost center" in many companies. Why? Because some
lame-ass managers or execs heard it in a seminar and thought that this
simple name change would change the culture of their organizations. Why go
through all the work of educating and managing your workforce, or evaluating
and improving operations, when a simple gimmick like referring to your cost
centers as profit centers is available?
Coaching. So when exactly did "training"
and "supervision" becomes bad words? And is "coaching" really any less
offensive to our overly sensitive workforce? Are we supposed to follow the
examples of sports coaches and slap employees in the ass when they do
something right or get in their faces and yell obscenities
(no more than 4 inches from their face and make sure the spit is flying)
when they fail to follow instructions. Sure, there have been times when I've had employees
complaining of a back injury that I wanted to tell "walk it off, Nancy boy!" But I didn't. Why? Because it's not appropriate for business and I didn't
want to get fired, or should I say kicked off the team.
Leveraging. Another favorite of
consultants, writers, salesmen, and speakers. They're always telling you that
you must be leveraging technology, leveraging knowledge, leveraging the
internet, bla bla bla. I'll admit that I have used this one once or twice, but
I'm not proud of it..
World-class. Ah yes, we all are
struggling to be world-class. If only we knew exactly what world-class is.
Best practices. This is something all
those world-class companies have, or so you are led to believe. If there truly
were a way to determine best practices, I think we would be surprised to find
out that they are not being used by the companies touted as world-class. I am
also guilty of using this one occasionally. Hey, it's not easy not being lame.
E-commerce, E-manufacturing, E-enterprise, E-business, E-world-class. Okay, I
made that last one up, but wouldn't you truly be top of the heap if you were
E-world-class. Granted, you would probably need to
E-leverage E-best practices in order to achieve E-world-class status as we are
experiencing a major E-shift in the E-paradigm.
Demand chain. Does calling a supply chain
a demand chain really change anything? I'm pretty confident that most people
working in supply chain management realize the purpose of the supply chain is
to meet demand.
Demand driven supply chain. Duh!
Value chain. Here we go again. From now
on, I'm going to refer to the supply chain as a value chain, thus emphasizing
that activities within the supply chain must be adding value to the product.
My god, I am sooooo clever.
Value stream. Takes "value chain" to a
whole new level of absurdity
I just received a phone call from a guy that was putting together a group of
businesses to generate an "income stream". He was trying to talk me into
participating in the income stream (he mentioned income stream more times than
I could count). I spend a lot of time outdoors and am well aware that a stream
is generally taking runoff from a variety of areas and channeling it
ultimately towards a larger body of water. I suspected the same would be true
of this income stream scenario, ultimately channeling some of my income into this guy's
KISS. Keep It Super
Simple, Keep It Simple Stupid, Keep
It Simple because i am not very
Smart. Alright, keeping things simple is a good approach provided that
the simple method is effective. Unfortunately, businesses are complex and the
simple solutions are not always the best solutions. 150 years ago, there was
no such thing as shoes designed for left and right feet. If KISS were
followed we would be stuck with this painful scenario. So beware of simpletons
that get in the way of a great solution.
Win Win. Sure, win win makes sense; I'm
just tired of hearing it.
Reverse Logistics. If you're talking
about returns, just say RETURNS! Do you call your expenses, reverse
income? Should we start referring to complaints as reverse compliments?
Is forgetting something reverse learning? Where does it end?
Critical mass. I'm not sure that all that
many thing in business actually meet the definition of critical mass,
however, I'm pretty sure that when a consultant, systems integrator, or
software provider talk about a project achieving critical mass they are
actually referring to the point at which their opportunities for charging
you obscene amounts of money become self-perpetuating.
Supplier's supplier and Customer's
customer. Again, I commend the first person that talked about extending
your supply chain planning from your supplier's supplier to your customer's
customer. Used sparingly, it's a great phrase, but in the hands of repeaters,
it's just annoying.
Anything Smart. Smart labels, smart
shelves, smart cards, smart tags, smart carts, smart software,... Adding an
RFID circuit to a label does not make it smart. Nor does adding a computer to
a piece of equipment. Can a smart label call me a dumb-ass if I slap it on the
wrong carton? If it could, it would then be a smart label (as well as a
smart-ass label). Can a computer make a decision that it was not specifically
programmed to make? Not yet. Until that time comes, the only things that can
be considered smart (having intelligence) are people, and, if you ask me, not
all that many people qualify either.
Robust. Can you think of a more
subjective term used to describe software? According to Webster's, robust
means "strong and healthy". Oh, now it all makes perfect sense.
Supermarket. Proponents of lean
manufacturing preach that inventory not moving is waste and therefore should
be eliminated. They demonize the mere mention of warehouses or storage areas.
So what do they do when they need a place to store inventory that will not be
used immediately? They set up areas called "Supermarkets", that are no
different from what the rest of us call storage areas and warehouses.
800-pound gorilla. Describes large
companies that like to use their size to beat vendors, competitors, and even
customers into submission. The really lame part here is that they used to be
referred to as 500-pound gorillas, but in a lame effort to turn it up to
eleven, somebody decided he had to step it up to 800 pounds. And, of course,
all the repeaters followed suit.
Agile. Term often used by consultants and
software vendors trying to convince 800-pound gorillas that they can show
them (for a price) how to move like frickin
Real-time. Alright, I'm not going to try
to say that real-time updates of data and real-time access to data is a bad
thing. Given the choice, I'll take real-time over delayed data anytime
provided the cost is the same. Unfortunately, real-time often has costs
associated with it. Those hyping real-time and telling you that you must have
real-time data, fail to mention that many companies implement real-time data
collection systems and the additional costs associated with them, yet fail to
utilize the real-time data. Most inventory planners still use batch programs
such as MRP and DRP programs to provide their planning data. These programs
seldom run more than once a day (sometimes only once a week or month),
negating many of the advantages of having real-time data throughout the day.
Centric. This one turned out to be far
more lame than I could have imagined. Software providers and consultants
like to add this term after another term to imply added importance to the
first term and use both as an adjective to describe something they are
selling. Some common examples would be "Business-centric",
"Customer-centric", "Profit-centric", and "Information-centric". What
really surprised me was just how abused the use of this term has become. I
started entering various business terms and buzz words into my favorite
search engine with "centric" added after them and guess what? Almost
everything I tried came back with at least one hit. That's right, people
have used the phrases "real time centric", "demand chain centric", "value
added centric", "best practices centric", and even "paradigm centric". Try
some for yourself, it's fun (make sure you enclose the phrase in quotes).
Cutting edge. When being approached with
a product or strategy described as cutting edge, you should be aware that
"cutting edge" actually refers to the fact that it will likely leave you
Synergies. I occasionally get calls from
people wanting to "explore synergies" with me. It always makes me a little
nervous because I'm not sure if they are talking business or looking for a
Value-added. This one creeps into my
vocabulary occasionally, but that's no excuse. Value-added has lame written
all over it; it's a sales term used to create the perception of value in a
service. It's gotten to the point where some companies describe themselves
as "value-added service providers". Can't you just offer a service and let
your prospective customer decide if it has value or not?
Next generation. Oh yeah, I gotta have
Legacy. Most of the terms on this list
are lame buzz words that attempt to make ideas or systems seem to be more
than they are, but the term legacy is actually used to diminish the
perceived value of something so someone can sell you something new. The idea
here is that a sales dude comes in and talks to you about amazing new
technologies and keeps referring you your current technology as legacy
systems. The more he says "legacy", the more you feel like you are being
handicapped by some ancient deficient system. And suddenly you are convinced
that all your problems are due to your legacy system and therefore can only
be solved with a new system. Just be aware that today's "next generation"
system is just a few years away from being a "legacy" system.
Mass customization. Mass customization
sounds so good it just has to be lame. Touted as the latest "new" direction
for manufacturing, the concept of mass customization surely exceeds the
reality of it. In fact, several years ago I stopped purchasing my PCs from
one of the "custom" PC manufacturers because their definition of mass
customization gradually diminished into a very limited set of hardware and
software options. In effect, mass customization has become far too much
"mass" and far to little "customization. I now build my own PCs.
One-stop shop. This is phrase used
commonly by businesses as they attempt to grow their business by getting
their hands into all kinds products and services that they have no expertise
in. "We want to be the one-stop shop for ..." they claim and even include it
in their mission statement. Eventually they find they are losing money
because they really don't understand the market for these supplemental
products and services, ultimately changing their tune to "We've decided to
focus on our core competencies". Isn't playing business fun?
Beyond the four walls. There you
go. It obviously never occurred to any of us that there were aspects of our
business that occur outside of our physical facilities. Thank God we have
consultants and software suppliers to remind us all of these important
Transforming and Reinventing.
These terms are frequently used to push the latest "New" idea. I think it's
— by definition
— neither "transforming" nor "reinventing" imply a
positive change. You may be transforming your supply chain into a mess or
reinventing a disaster. Keep up the good work!
Panaceas and Silver Bullets. These two
terms are unique in that they are almost always used in a negative context.
When a writer, consultant, or speaker uses the term panacea or silver
bullet to describe an idea, concept, or technology, you can be assured that
the word "not" will also be included in the statement. You can also be
assured that their "straight talking" negative portrayal of one idea,
concept, or technology is actually being used to try to sell you on another
idea, concept, or technology.
Information age, information superhighway,
data mining, data warehouse, business intelligence, connected, integrated,
synchronized, managing visibility, dashboards, modular, scalable, robust, real-time. Run
away! Run away! Someone is trying to sell you more software.
Widgets. Maybe I'm being too picky here,
but I am so tired of hearing about widgets every time a consultant, speaker,
or writer attempts to describe a hypothetical inventory item. I admit there
is a valid use for such a term, but how about spreading it around to some
other terms such as gadgets, thingamajigs, whatchamacallits, gizmos,
doodads, or doohickeys. Granted, any of these terms can become lame if
overused, so be careful out there. And yes, I have heard that at one time a
widget may have been a real device. I DON'T CARE!
Data Hygiene. Proof that a thesaurus can
be dangerous in the wrong hands. I'm not exactly sure what they were going
for here but I think this gives the term "a data dump" new meaning. It
does bring us some valid issues though. So be sure to practice safe-syntax. Abstinence first, but if you are going to
integrate your data, make sure you use protection. Or how about a 50's era
style film discussing how your data changes as it enters into puberty.
Well Billy, if you keep picking at those sales numbers, you're gonna get an
infection. Your database is very special and if you inappropriately
touch your database you could go blind ... err, I mean, you could lose
visibility to your organization due to corrupt data. Oh this is just too easy.
Dishonorable mention. More terms and
phrases that fall into the overhyped, overused, abused, or otherwise lame
category. Also read the "You just may be Lame if: "
section for more lame terms.
Think outside the box.
Work smarter not harder
Do more with less
Become an agent of change
Adapting military terms such as "war room",
"assault", or "deployment" for business use.
I'll give a pass on this to anyone that has actually served in the military,
but it's off limits to everyone else.
Using creative terminology to sugar-coat firing
workers. Alright, I've fired quite a few people over the years and I'll
admit you want to try to make the activity as painless as possible for the
person being fired as well as the person doing the firing. Therefore, I'm Ok
with people avoiding the terms "Fired", "Terminated", or "Shitcanned" during
the process. My gripe is in with the terminology used after the
fact or when discussing the firing process, such as "John's position has
been eliminated", "Bob has moved on to other opportunities", "Sue and
[insert company name here] have decided to go their separate ways". I just
read an article on problem employees that used the phrase "separate them
from the organization" to describe the act of firing employees.
Web sites that use lame
Just for fun I did a search for sites
that contained the terms paradigm, leveraging, world-class, best
practices, demand chain, and value chain. The search returned 27 documents
that contained all of these lame terms. Truly lame indeed.
Generic lame article
Need to write a lame article, just choose from
one of these generic lame article titles and fill in the blank with your topic
of choice. These also work great for lame book titles.
The Seven Deadly Sins of [INSERT
YOUR TOPIC HERE].
The Changing Role of
[INSERT YOUR TOPIC HERE]
[INSERT YOUR TOPIC HERE]:
Adapt or Die.
[INSERT YOUR TOPIC HERE]
Don't Get Left Behind
[INSERT YOUR TOPIC HERE]
Best Practices in
[INSERT YOUR TOPIC HERE]
[INSERT YOUR TOPIC HERE]
Emerging trends in
[INSERT YOUR TOPIC HERE]
[INSERT YOUR TOPIC HERE]:
The Holy Grail of [INSERT HIGHER LEVEL TOPIC
Dirty little secrets of [INSERT
HERE]: The elephant in the room.
Back to Top
There's no communication.
This is probably the all-time favorite. Everyone from entry level employees to
managers just love to bitch about a lack of communication. "Nobody tells us
anything", "I was never informed of that", whaaaa! whaaaa! whaaaa! This
one will almost always make the top of your employee survey results. Sure there
can probably be improvement in communication at most companies, but how about
taking some personal responsibility and paying attention to the communication
that is already occurring or maybe taking a little initiative to find out what
is going on in other areas of the company. No, you're right, it's easier to just
sit around and whine.
Our computer system sucks.
That's right. If you're too stupid or lazy to learn how to use your computer
system, just say it sucks.
That's not how they do things
around here. So who the hell are "they" and why don't
they listen to you. Obviously you know the right way to do everything.
Yeah, you're probably right.
Our business is different.
Everything we do is more complicated. Other companies don't have to do what we
do. You really need to get out more .Every business is
different, Every business is complicated.
We could not have possibly known
that would happen . . . Of course not, because you could not
have possibly thought through your plan. You could not have possibly been paying
attention to the facts. You could not possibly take responsibility for anything
that goes wrong as a result of your actions or inactions.
My job has so much more
responsibility than everyone else's. Isn't it funny
how every job you've ever had is always the hardest job out there.
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Ads and Pics.
Here are some photos and excerpts from industry ads and
articles I found to be lame (obviously I read mostly industry magazines
related to warehousing and related technology and equipment). Again, I am not commenting on the products
themselves (which are probably very good products) but rather on the
presentation. This is what happens with the "creative" people take control.
I've intentionally removed some references to companies or people in order to try
to avoid them further embarrassment.
for larger image.
***Top Lame Pic***
Reading bar codes the hard way.
This is a
picture from a full-page ad for a voice-directed warehouse system. Am I
wrong or is she reading the bar code into the voice system?
for larger image.
Lost in the
hype over RFID.
This photo comes
from a local business paper that was running a special section dedicated
to RFID. The articles were the standard hype-filled articles on RFID
that have been annoying me for the past year, especially with comments
like "RFID will replace barcodes". However the truly lame part comes in
the included photo supposedly showing RFID in action which was actually
a photo of bar code scanning in action.
should try a little harder to actually find someone using RFID before
they proclaim its impending dominance.
for larger image.
Here is another
photo from another article about RFID that shows a worker using a bar code
scanner while the caption reads "warehouse worker uses a radio frequency
identification reader". I think the problem here is the "creative"
people that select the graphical content for the articles want to have a
human being using the technology in the photo. Unfortunately for them,
the primary applications for this technology are not based on a person
with a hand-held device, so consequently there are not many photos
available of hand-held RFID readers in use. So what the hell, just put a
file photo of bar code technology in the article and call it RFID
technology. Yeah, that'll work.
To be fair,
this was actually a pretty good article ( Despite Wal-Mart's Edict,
Radio tags Will Take Time December 27,2004 New York
Times) that discussed some of the shortcomings of current RFID
technology. I guess the one shortcoming they didn't mention was a lack
of photos of RFID actually in use.
Click graphic for larger image
And even more RFID
arrived in my email as an "Editor's Pick of the Week". Once again they
are pushing RFID yet showing a photo of a bar code scanner. Now I have
to apologize for having most of my lame pics being on the same topic (RFID),
but that is where the major hype has been over the past couple of years
and it's obvious that many of those hyping the technology are just
"repeaters" and have no clue as to how it actually works. All they had
to do was to click on the link (Symbol
XR400) they provided and they would have
seen the real RFID hardware.
for larger image.
I could not
believe what I was reading when this ad popped up in my email inbox. This
company is comparing its software to Grizzly Bears and claiming the
competition are Pandas.
So if you're
looking for unpredictable and dangerous software that
is at risk of becoming extinct due to shrinking habitat, you may want to consider their product.
For the rest of us, keeping clear of the Grizzlies is probably a good
If you want to
compare your software to an animal, why not choose roaches, rats, or
coyotes? These are animals (and insects) that have been around for a long
time and have proven they can adapt to a rapidly changing environment.
for larger image.
ain't what it used to be.
The text in the
photo of this ad reads "I need a smart
way to implement RFID that's practical and pays for itself". This
comment comes supposedly from the engineer-type dude standing on a
raised pallet on the front of a forklift. I can assure you there is
nothing SMART about standing on a raised pallet on a forklift. Hey,
maybe that's the practical RFID application he's looking to implement.
Sure, you could put directional RFID readers on the mast of the lift
trucks and then require your idiot engineers to wear an RFID chip. Then,
when they climb on the front of the forklift, an alarm can sound or an
audible message can warn him that if he is intent on riding on the front
of the lift truck he may want to consider adding a chin strap to his
for larger image.
thanks to technology.
Here you have a
warehouse person outfitted with a handheld computer and a portable bar
code label printer and another on a lift truck with a vehicle-mounted
touch-screen computer. There is a photo overlay on one of the workers
showing him wearing a sweatband (implying that he is working hard). One
of the captions reads "Every day I work through lunch".
Do you see any
product moving? Is this company making money by having its workers stand
around the warehouse fondling their computers? Maybe that's why he has
to work through lunch (that must be when the actual work is
more. With the exception of the bar-coded label hanging off of the
portable printer on the employee's belt, I don't see any bar codes on
the products or the shelf locations in this warehouse (you can't tell
for sure since those parts of the ad are not in focus, I kept saying
"Enhance!" to my computer, but nothing happened ). Instead, I see pieces
of paper hanging from the shelf locations (my guess is there is some
hand-written location or item info on them, once again "enhance" didn't
I doubt they
actually use portable computers in this warehouse.
Now I'm not
even going to mention the rack that is out of alignment (probably due to
a lift truck impact that occurred during lunch), the stretch wrap
hanging form the rack, and the dust on the beams. Sloppy, sloppy! Oh
wait, I guess I did mention it. Am I nitpicking again?
for larger image.
should know this doesn't make cents.
This is from the
online tutorial on RFID (titled Idiots Guide) from EPC Global. I
think it's great that they have put this tutorial online, however, if
their objective is to promote RFID, I think they should have chosen a
better example. The caption for this frame reads "SuperCola, Inc. adds
a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag to every cola can it produces.
Each tag is cheap - it costs about five cents".
Now I don't have
to be in the beverage industry to know that adding five cents to the
manufacturing cost of each can of cola is anything but "cheap." On
top of that, RFID tags are not even close to hitting the five cent price
point. If they are trying to scare the hell out of manufacturers of
low-cost consumer goods, they are meeting their objective here.
for larger image.
This ad reads
"Funny, Tony never wanted to skip his break before". I can only assume
that those two other guys are doing something to Tony at break time that
makes him afraid to take his breaks. A little better supervision in the
warehouse may have prevented this situation. I think it's great that
Yale decided to use their advertising dollars to bring to our attention
the common but seldom discussed issue of abusive coworkers.
Sure, some of
you are probably thinking "Tony probably just got what was coming to
him." While that may be true; there is no excuse for allowing this
kind of activity in the workplace.
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First! Safety ...maybe not so important.
This is from a
safety article on wheel chocks in a industry magazine that usually does
a pretty good job with safety issues. I'll admit I don't have any
experience with trucks this big, but I think its a fair assumption to
make that when placing or removing the safety devices (wheel chocks) you
probably shouldn't be standing right under the wheel.
for larger image.
rates to a new low.
This is part of
an ad for a motorized storage system claiming to "push your pick rates to
a new level". Unfortunately, based on this photo, that new level would be
a new low. If you look close, you can see that there really is not that
much inventory in this piece of equipment. You could probably put all of
that inventory into a small static shelving unit that cost significantly
less, takes up less space, and provides quicker access to the picks.
Note to the
equipment manufacturer: Several taller units placed side-by-side with a
little better cube utilization might be a better way to promote this
for larger image.
than common sense?
misapplication of storage and material handling equipment. I see stuff
like this all the time. This photo of a fulfillment center from a case
study in a leading fulfillment magazine shows several rows of carton flow
rack that appear to be near empty. Many of the items stored in the flow
rack only have one or two cartons. What a waste! For most of these items,
all that was needed was some standard static shelving that would have cost
less, taken up less space, and provided higher levels of productivity.
Maybe the photo was taken during implementation and the storage area had
not been filled yet, maybe it was taken during the slow season, maybe the
company is planning some significant increases in demand, and maybe
monkeys will fly out of my ...
for larger image.
were harmed in the creation of this advertisement.
This is an ad
from a computer hardware/software distributor showing "Martha" filling one
of their orders. I'm not sure what they are trying to say here, but it's
for larger image.
"paperless", inventory problem.
This photo is
from an article on paperless voice-directed picking in an office supply
fulfillment center. The first thing that caught my eye was the filth on
the top of the shelving units. If you know someone is coming to take
photos for a magazine article, how about cleaning up a bit? You can tell
they knew pictures would be taken because you can see where they recently
removed boxes that had been stored on top of the shelves. What also caught
my eye was the open box of pens on top of the shelves (slightly right of
center of photo). Being a stickler for accuracy, I see this as an
inventory problem that occurred because an employee needed a pen and
decided to just take one from inventory and then just toss the now unsalable remainder on top of the shelves. Now here's the really lame
part. If they are paperless, what did the employee need the pen
for larger image.
This photo from
an article on employee incentive programs shows a worker that is more
productive because she is on a productivity-based incentive program. If
you notice the lousy stack job on the pallet, you should realize that a
productivity-based incentive program without quality standards is just a
Bar codes bar
codes everywhere but not a one to scan.
This is the back
cover of my copy of The Bar Code Book,
which has become the industry standard for specs and technical information
related to bar codes and related technology. This book is full of bar
codes, however, if you notice the empty space at the bottom of the back
cover (you know, the space where the BAR CODE is supposed to be) you will
realize that this book is one bar code short. Good book, but whoops.
Back to Top
More Lame Stuff
When this quote was mentioned on
Comedy Central's The Daily Show recently, I knew I was going to have to add a
new category to my lame lists. GM's CEO Rick Wagoner gave this as the reason for
laying off 25,000 workers over the next three years: "... in order to achieve
full capacity utilization based on conservative volume planning scenarios...".
He also avoided using the terms layoffs or cuts; instead he used the phrase
"reduce our manufacturing employment levels". In case any of you are
trying to figure out what "conservative volume planning scenarios" means, think
of it as a lame executive's way of saying "sales are down and since I don't have
a clue as to why, I am just going to accept this situation and see what I
need to do to turn my lack of vision and leadership into a bonus check."
Here's another quote that had me
shaking my head in amazement. This is from an article in Material Handling
Management Magazine discussing the use of carousels in warehouses. "In
the late 1980s and early 1990s, carousels got a bad rap, say manufacturers,
because too many people installed them when it was not the proper technology."
So let me rephrase this a bit, the product that you manufacture got a
bad rap because you had a strategy of promoting and selling it to people that
didn't need it. Oh you poor guys. That's exactly the same thing that has
happened to pornographic Spam, which is getting a bad rap because sometimes
children open it when it ends up in their inbox.
Lame Headlines and Press Releases.
WHAT REAL-TIME POSTPONEMENT
LOOKS LIKE. That's right, you should be postponing in real-time,
because if you are going to put off doing something (the definition of
postponement) you are better off putting it off now (in real time) rather than
putting off putting it off, or worse yet, putting off putting off putting it
off. This was the title of an article in the September 2006 Modern Materials
Handling magazine (the entire issue was focused on "Real-time"). To be fair,
when you take the definition of postponement used in manufacturing and
distribution, you can make an argument that real-time can play a role. AND, if
the magazine editors put that title in because they thought it was kind of
funny, I'll give them credit for not being lame. BUT, if they didn't get it,
they are totally lame.
The foundation for peak
performance: Microsoft collaboration framework and partner solutions power
demand-driven value chains. This is the title for an article in the
Dec. 2005 issue of Manufacturing Business Technology. This title was so lame
that I thought I should consider reading it just to find out what the hell it is
SAP AG (NYSE:SAP) today
announced the launch of a $125 million global fund to accelerate the ecosystem
of independent software vendors (ISVs) building next-generation composite
applications on the SAP NetWeaver(R) platform. (I read this in Manufacturing
Business Technology, but in their defense, they listed it as coming from
PRNewswire-FirstCall). Well it's about time software vendors started investing
in the ecosy. . . mmm wait a minute. . . what the hell is an "ecosystem of
independent software vendors"? Ok, I'm imagining a dark, dank, slimy,
subterranean world where software vendors reproduce asexually.
Neckties and Handshakes.
Did you ever think about the oddball stuff we accept as normal in
mean really think about it. Imagine you came from another planet to observe the
earthlings, and had to explain to others why it is customary for men in business
to adorn themselves in multi-colored pieces of cloth tied around their necks in
a very specific manner. And when they meet, it is expected that they each put
out their right upper appendage to grab the other's appendage and move it up and
down once or twice. And that millions of us have been doing this for generations
without ever asking why.
Other Lame Stuff.
Paying ex jocks to tell you how
to run your business. You know what I'm talking about; those management
training sessions where you bring in an ex football player or coach to
motivate your managers and teach them all about teamwork. I mean, come on, do
you ever watch what goes on on sidelines of a football/basketball/baseball
game? Yelling, swearing, spitting, arguing with officials, physical
intimidation, and of course, frequent package checking. Is this really how you
want your managers to act? Why don't you just admit it. You were probably a
nerd in school and if you weren't getting your ass kicked by jocks, you were
at least being ignored by them. Now that you have gained some success in
business, you've finally found a way to hang out with the "cool kids". There's
nothing wrong with that, just stop calling it management training. Now if you
could only figure out how to get the cheerleaders to talk to you.
Paying criminals to tell you how
to run your business? What the F&#K is wrong with you
people? I recently read an article in a trade magazine on a white-collar
criminal that now has a book out and does paid speaking engagements. And
according to another article on a similar topic, there are numerous convicted
felons that are now making their living by telling their story (actually their
version of their story) to wide-eyed, shit-for-brains, lame-ass business people.
In case it's not apparent, this one really gets under my skin. These people are
thieves, but because they are "white collar" thieves, after they get finished
with their slap-on-the-wrist sentences, they get book deals and become highly
sought after speakers, and essentially make a good living by convincing you that
under the same circumstances, this could be you. So basically, they are being
rewarded for stealing from people like you and me.
I wrote a response to one of the
articles and I noticed it was posted on a website (not the magazine I sent the
response to), so if you're interested, you can read it here
Mission Statements. It never
ceases to amaze me the scams that business consultants concoct to generate
revenue. The fact that most businesses have been convinced that they not only need a
formal mission statement, but that they also need to pay consultants to help them
develop their mission statement is a testament to the influence of the
consulting industry. Let me save you all a lot of money. Start with the phrase,
"To be the leader in [insert your industry here]. Then throw in a line or two
about treating your customers, business partners, and employees with honesty and
respect, and you've got yourself a nice mission statement. Now, if you are
intent on having one of those impressive mission statements that is so confusing
that only your executive staff understands it (only after several weeks of
coaching from the consultants), then by all means hire yourself some management
consultants. Or, you can get some help by using the
Mission Statement Generator.
Monkeys, and Cheese, and Fish
... Oh my. This category was inspired by an email I received from a Lame
List site visitor.
one time, I worked for a
loved issuing out 'management' books to its
supervisors. In itself, that's not a
horrible practice. Most at that company were promoted from within with
plenty of street knowledge, but little formal
education. The books were easy reads and
seldom took longer than one minute to read.
(I hope I'm not
being too subtle.) Then came the
a book that I
actually liked. (It like most management
books, had some great points, but in order for managers to understand it the
authors had to relate everything to characters from, you guessed it, the
Wizard of Oz.)
I'll save you a few hours of reading. Its
premise was this; the world would be a
lot better place if people would stop being victims and take accountability
for their actions. To quote the book,
"...see it, own it, solve it, do it." (Of
course, you have to have the brains to see it, the courage to... you get the
picture.) I thought it odd, however,
that the upper level managers in the company, after having read the book
themselves, found that the problems they
were facing stemmed from a lack of accountability of their subordinates.
Maybe they were above the whole 'Oz'
enough, later on the company issued out
Minute Manager Meets the Monkey,
again not a bad book. (My problem was NOT picturing Curious George as the
villain.) So, practically overnight
the battle cry for the company went from,
"stop being a victim..." to,
"it's not my monkey!"
Contributed by DT
First I need to thank DT for his contribution, then I need
to hit myself in the head wondering how I forgot to mention this lame movement
towards using cute little cartoon characters to educate managers. I don't know
if this movement is the direct result of kids raised on Sesame Street entering
the management workforce or an evolutionary reduction of our attention spans. If
you are unfamiliar with these books, videos, or audio cassettes, they
basically try to communicate a business idea or philosophy the same way a
children's book would try to communicate good manners to 4-year-olds. These
books are not inherently lame, in fact, you have to give these authors credit
for imagination in coming up with these concepts. The lameness (I think I just made up a word)
occurs when companies temporarily (these are always short-term fads) adopt these
cute concepts as their management strategy, or, when executives resign
themselves to believe that this is the only way their managers will learn
anything. See for yourself:
The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey.
Who Moved My Cheese.
Whale Done!. .
Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results.
Gung Ho! Turn On the People in Any Organization This one has more
animals than Ellie May Clampett.
The Leadership Secrets Of Santa Claus Now! Dasher, Now!
Dancer, Now! Prancer, and Vixen, On! Larry, On! Judy, On!Frank, and Gary.
I am certainly not the first to
recognize lame. Below are some books that help to identify lame and attempt to put it in
its place. I have to mention that Lame is somewhat related to popularity. If
any of these anti-lame titles become wildly popular (which is doubtful), they
then may, through their own popularity, become Lame. Hey, it's a cruel world
Think Outside the Box: The Most Trite, Generic, Hokey, Overused, Cliched or
Unmotivating Motivational Slogans. This one was not quite as
humorous as I had hoped, but it is well worth a read. My biggest concern with
this book is that it may be misused by lame people to increase their lame
vocabulary. I can just imagine some people reading this book and thinking
"hey, I like that".
Who Moved My Soap? The CEO's Guide to Surviving in Prison Obviously
inspired by the recent accounting scandals, this fictionalized account of a
CEOs experience in prison is a mix of bland and hilarious. When I first
started reading this book, I was a little disappointed in that although it was
clever, it wasn't really all that funny. But then, seemingly out of nowhere,
came some lines that had me laughing out loud. It's definitely worth reading
just for those moments.
Who Cut the Cheese? A Cutting-Edge Way of Surviving Change by Shifting the
Blame There is no doubt that this is a direct attack on "Who Moved My
Cheese?" If you are easily offended, don't read this book. In fact, if you are
not easily offended, you probably will be by this book. I fall into the latter
category. This book is full of gross bathroom humor
which is perfect for me.
I must admit, however, that I was taken aback by some of the unnecessary (and
unfunny) violence in the book. My belief is anything goes as long as it is
funny. This book straddles the line between funny and disturbing. In some
areas funny wins out, but be prepared for some real nasty stuff that misses
the laugh test.
Who Stole My Cheese That's right, another "who moved my cheese" parody. I
haven't read this one so you're on your own.
Great news for illiterate executives.
I don't even have to go
out of my way looking for lame; sometimes it just shows up in my mailbox. As I
was putting together the previous section on lame and anti-lame books, I
received an envelope containing information and a CD detailing a product
designed specifically for the busy executive. Now we all know that busy
executives shouldn't be wasting their time reading books when they can be
using that time to do more important things like mislead investors, set up
offshore tax shelters, close down US plants and move the jobs overseas, or use
company funds to pay for outlandish parties. This product offers to identify
the best business books of the year and convert each of them into 15 minutes
of audio (or text). That's right, this company can communicate in 15 minutes
the important points that the author arrogantly felt needed 300+ pages to
To make it even more lame, this
company describes a real situation where a person was at a "charity
cocktail party" and fell into a conversation with "successful business
executives" about a new and hot business book. Well you probably know where
this is going. This poor soul hadn't read the hot new business book and was
subsequently left out of the conversation, embarrassing him and undoubtedly
inflicting serious damage on his career. Now I'm sure that had he purchased
this product he could have spent hours talking about his 15 minutes of
knowledge, ultimately impressing the hell out of these executives and opening
up entirely new career potential for himself. Yeah right.
Here is the special
audio version* for all you busy illiterate executives. *audio version
complements of MSN Encarta
visitors get to anonymously describe the fools they work with. Part of me
thinks this is a little lame because my assumption is that most of the
posters here probably smile and act buddy-buddy with their coworkers at work
then go online and flame them. But some of these posts are so funny and
strange it just can't be lame.
Forklift Safety Gore Fest!!!
Klaus-The First Day On The Job.
This is a short (10 minutes) German film about a forklift
driver's first day on the job. As far as I know it is not available in an
English version or with English subtitles. That really doesn't matter
because you don't need to understand the dialog to know what is going on.
Lets face it, a painful scream is a painful scream regardless of the
Though anyone that thinks gratuitous over-the-top violence is
funny will enjoy this, I think it is of particular interest to those of us
that have worked around forklifts. Being an industry professional (or at
least claiming to be) I noticed some obvious technical inaccuracies, but who
cares, this film is funny.
I haven't seen this available for purchase within the U.S.
but you can order it online (I think it cost me about $25 USD including
shipping) from Germany using the following link:
Note: Be aware that your DVD player will probably not
be setup to play this overseas version. I used DVD Region+CSS Free
and UltraDVD software with my PC DVD player to view it. Both products
can be purchased through
I also found versions of the film as a WMV file that
can be viewed online. This is a very low quality version of the film, but
it's worth a look. You can view it at the following links:
Klaus Update: A site
visitor informed me that you can now download a high quality subtitled
version of this film from
. It downloads as a .wmv file that can be played with windows media player
(no region code locks). It only cost $2.99 US. I think it's funnier without
the subtitles, but this download option is a hell of a lot easier than
ordering a dvd from Germany and setting up a region-free dvd player (though
the license restrictions are annoying).
Both Lame and Not Lame
Dilbert. Relax, I'm not
going to say that Dilbert is lame or that those who read Dilbert books or keep
a Dilbert calendar in their cubicle are lame. However!!! When someone
decorates their entire cubicle with Dilbert paraphernalia or when someone
thinks that carrying around a Dilbert coffee mug is a reflection of their own
comedic genius, all I can say is, Lame, Lame, LAME!