Business Humor / Office Humor: The InventoryOps Lame Lists.

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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 unfortunatelyLame has a way of coming back (kind of like herpes) so it's just a matter of time.



Quick links to Lame Categories

 You just may be Lame if:

Lame Vocabulary

Lame Excuses

Lame Ads and Pics

More Lame Stuff




You just 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 handshaking technique.


You judge others by their handshaking technique (unless, of course, you encounter one of those guys with the really soft, squishy, wet, handshakes. Eeeeeeiouuu!!!).


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 about.


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 photo.


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 putt.


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. A 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 title.


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.


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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.

Anything E-. 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

Income stream.  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 income pool.

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. Hypocritically lame.

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 gazelles. 

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 bleeding cash.

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 date.

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 that.

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 issues.

Transforming and Reinventing.  These terms are frequently used to push the latest "New" idea. I think it's interesting thatby  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



Competitive advantage.

Last mile.


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 vocabulary.

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 titles.

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]



Don't Get Left Behind  [INSERT YOUR TOPIC HERE]

Best Practices in  [INSERT YOUR TOPIC HERE]


Emerging trends in [INSERT YOUR TOPIC HERE]


Dirty little secrets of [INSERT YOUR TOPIC HERE]

[INSERT YOUR TOPIC HERE]:  The elephant in the room.


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Lame Excuses

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.

Nobody cares. 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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Cynical Dave's Lame 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.

Click graphic 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?


Click graphic 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.

Maybe they should try a little harder to actually find someone using RFID before they proclaim its impending dominance.

Click graphic for larger image.

More RFID confusion.

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 confusion.

This just 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.


Click graphic for larger image.

Grizzly indeed.

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 idea.

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.

Click graphic for larger image.

"Smart" just 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 hardhat.


Click graphic for larger image.

Workin' Hard 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 accomplished).

And there's 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 work).

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?

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Even "idiots" 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.

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Help protect Tony.

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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Compliance 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.


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Pushing pick 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 product.

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More money than common sense?

More 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 ...

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No employees 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 definitely lame.


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Dirty, "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?


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Productivity versus quality.

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 high-paced mess.


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.



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More Lame Stuff


Lame Quotes

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 about. Naaah!

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 businessI 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 Dilbert 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.

"At one time, I worked for a company that 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 Oz Principle, 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' metaphor. 

 Ironically enough, later on the company issued out The One 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.


Anti-Lame Humor?

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 out there.

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 communicate.

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


Not Lame  Site 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!!!

Forklift Drive 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 language. 

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!