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The Day the World ran out of sugar

By Dr. Robert L. Gordon | 06/06/2016 | 3:21 AM

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Sometimes it is the little things that really made a difference regarding logistics.  Sometimes it just takes a little change to get people to realize how much was actually being used and how much was actually being wasted.  

When I worked at a very famous theme park in Orlando, they had been using logo sugar since the day they opened, and it was a standard item for all their locations there.  They had one supplier that had been responsible for printing the logo sugar, and they were about to run out.  They was a huge uproar about it, and people were blamed, but in the end, they had to accept the fact that they were going to have to move to regular sugar packages, just like everyone else.  The day came, and the organization was braced for the wave of complaints that people were going to have.

The day came.  A week passed.  Not one complaint.  Management began to wonder if perhaps no one noticed or perhaps locations had been hoarding cases of sugar.  People looked into the situation and found that all locations were using regular individual sugar in the standard packaging.  The question circulated about if people noticed.  Maybe this was a detail that really did not matter to the consumer.   The answer came that people did notice, but not because any customer said a thing, it was realized when the next order of individually packaged sugar had come up. 

The famous theme park had been ordering truckloads of individually packaged sugar every week for years.  The consumption was steady and only increased when more locations opened up.  After a week, the sugar supplier called the Purchasing Department because they had not received the order for the individual sugar.  The reason there was no order was very clear, consumption dropped more than 50%, and there was plenty of sugar to last another week.

One small change that no one really noticed made a huge impact.  It was the culture that kept them from trying the change before, even when there were potential savings right in front of them.  No one wanted to change something that had always been done that way.

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About Dr. Robert Lee Gordon

Dr. Robert Lee Gordon

Dr. Robert Lee Gordon is program director of the Reverse Logistics department at American Public University. Dr. Gordon has over twenty-five years of professional experience in supply chain management and human resources. He holds a Doctorate of Management and Organizational Leadership and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix, as well earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from UCLA. Dr. Gordon has spent more than 14 years teaching reverse logistics, transportation, project management, and human resources. He has published articles on reverse logistics; supply chain management; project management; human resources; education, and complexity. He has also published four books on Reverse Logistics Management; Complexity and Project Management; Virtual Project Management Organizations, and Successful Program Management..



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