Gallicant is an independent publication of insights, analyses and commentary from Arlan Purdy. Opinions expressed on this site are the author’s and are not made on behalf of any other party, including past or present employers.
My career began in the Binghamton University library, storing scanned documents and tracking them in a Microsoft Access database of my own improvised design.
From there I was introduced to the Toyota Production System and elements of Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma process control at an air tools factory in northeastern Pennsylvania. After that introduction into the theory of optimized processes, I spent several years on various forms of post-mortem analysis of process failure: missed delivery commitments. It was a sort of unguided, organic education in the practical complications of production planning. I lived through a plant closure, an experience which made me more aware of the intersection of personal and professional values and the tension between them.
I moved over to the sales and marketing side and got a taste of the impossibility of forecasting. While it was enlightening to experience forecasting first hand, seeing things from the other side of the fence only reinforced my conviction that the antagonism between sales and operations is needlessly worsened through ignorance, carelessness, and disregard; senior management could do much more to forge a union of purpose if they would only stop regarding the adversity as inevitable.
Possessed of a notion that large multinational corporations fostered a specially virulent form of narrow functional self-interest, I took an opportunity to join a Silicon Valley start-up. Although different from my past experience in every quantifiable way, I discovered that qualitatively the same problems remained: shifting priorities, short-term actions at odds with long-term goals, and division of responsibilities in ways that fostered division more than responsibility.
With each passing year I am more impressed by the extent to which business inefficiency results from a lack of clear, consistent, communicated priorities. Operational excellence is a direct result of communication excellence.