The current extraordinary economic crisis recalls Murphy’s famous Law: “Anything which can go wrong will go wrong.” It’s PESSIMISTIC, fatalistic, exactly what WE don’t need, what YOU don’t need right now: to darken everyone’s mood even more. In the US, nearly two-thirds think that the country is in decline, and this feeling has contaminated many other countries. In these conditions, what can we expect from 2016 ?

Fortunately, that “Law” is not what Captain Edward A. Murphy, an engineer in the U.S. Air Force, actually said. While working on speed tests using sleds in the 1950’s, he noted that two components were both mounted backwards and said: “Anything which isn’t specified, will be done wrong.”

He berated himself for not having thought of the backward possibility and not having specified the right way.

So, when things are specified correctly, they work! This is fundamentally OPTIMISTIC: we hold in our hands the power to make devices, processes, organizations and systems work correctly.

The current economic situation seems uncontrollable, and entire countries are going bankrupt. Many people and companies are caught up in the storm: products selling poorly, extended and costly supply chains, full of risks, complex, costly ERP systems and a financial vise locked in on cash and short-term objectives.

Facing this increasingly uncertain environment, many people give up and feel helpless. Murphy’s traditional Law runs free in that kind of environment. People spend their time correcting system errors, forecast errors, planning errors and all kinds of non-Quality.

Lean however is OPTIMISTIC: “Lean experience teaches us to enjoy and make the most of what goes wrong, encourages us to go to the gemba (the workplace) and learn to look for the real problems faced by workers, the real wants and needs of the customer”. This quote is from John Shook, CEO of the Lean Enterprise Institute. With Lean problems are considered positively as they are used to drive changes and progresses; that’s fundamentally OPTIMISTIC!

Contrast that with our traditional point of view: problems are bad, because they keep us from attaining our financial objectives. We can never solve them all, so we have to put them aside and keep producing. That’s fundamentally PESSIMISTIC.

On the contrary, Lean is encouraging optimism in our personal reaction to adversity. Instead of giving up, a confident person (or organization) examines the adversity—a problem encountered in the gemba—and by analyzing it (with a team), finds a solution and feels energized.

In fact, not only Lean, but all technologies for managing industry and the Supply Chain are OPTIMISTIC.

MRP 2 shows anticipated problems to planners, exactly like Lean, which shows current problems to operators in the cell.

The great danger would be to believe that overload and bottleneck problems can only be resolved by the computer, and to think that adopting «finite capacity» and advanced planning systems (APS/APO,..) are magic tools. Following this path would definitely be PESSIMISTIC as it will demonstrate that you are giving up on solving the problem yourselves but letting a System automatically postpone your customer Demand, what the anticipated detection and resolution of problems through the S&OP process would have avoided.

Sales and Operations Planning (sometimes called Demand & Operations Planning) is also optimistic, because it gives Top Management the means to prepare the future, to deploy its strategy, track historical performance and budget deviation.

If a company applies correctly Lean, MRP-2 and the S&OP, its Industrial and Supply Chain management will work well and…

2016 WILL BE ONE MARVELOUS YEAR TO LIVE !!! Murphy also would be happy to be understood at last, as “Anything which we can make go right, will finally go right.”

EMMANUEL DE RYCKEL (following an idea from Bill Belt  that I will never thanks enough from all what I have learned from him)