We had a lovely morning and early afternoon but then the temperature dropped and it started to rain.  There was no set plan for dinner and we normally think of BBQ and sitting outside but with the temp drop we decided I would just go to the Super Store and pick up one of those pre BBQd chickens with all the fixins.  Easy meal and tastes good.

As I was picking up one of the last precooked BBQ chickens at about 5:30 there were only 4 left.  This store sells dozens of these chickens on a normal night.

The manager came out to the display with the guy that apparently cooks the chicken and became frantic.  Where are the chickens? Do you have more on the go?

The guy says “well no, this is what we normally sell in the evening”    I expect it takes an hour or more to cook them so a bit of a problem.  The manager looked at me and I said ” well it is a cool rainy Monday night I expect you are going to have dozens of people looking for this meal”  He looked at me with a the look that said “thanks I needed that”.

Granted that was with the foresight of arriving from outside where a nice day turned crappy while the poor schmuck that has to plan how many chickens to cook is inside.  Cook too many and they go to chopped chicken salad, cook too few and the manager yells at you.

But on the way home it made me reminisce about a job I had in 1977.  I had just received my MBA and got the position as administration supervisor at Amalgamated Electric in  Markham.  We made electric panels for housing and small commercial buildings.  In my position I supervised the order service people but the fundamental responsibility was to schedule production 3 to 5 months ahead.  We had close to 3000 SKUs to be scheduled and while some were steady demand, most were cyclical.  Despite my recent MBA I started the job just like the guy cooking chickens.  Looking back at history to forecast the future.  Like driving a car while sitting facing the rear.

The guy obviously thought since he sold 40 chickens a day for the last few days so he would cook 40 today, but missed the change in weather.  I did the same in my job.

I had what I considered miserable results in my two years on that job because I never learned to try to forecast future demand based on approved building permits.  Granted this was a time before internet so not as easy as it sounds today to find this information.  Apparently I was not so bad because I was promoted to the manager of the administration for the division with 6 different supervisors reporting to me doing the same forecasting for different lines.  At that point I was no longer lost in the forest trying to see the trees (that is a metaphor) I had the time to look for trends and help provide forecasting tools .   Inventory scheduling results actually got much better for the entire division.  Apparently it is easier to drive facing forward.

So as the manager at Super Store walked away he left the poor schmuck trying to figure how he can get another 40 chickens cooking, I mentioned to him that maybe he should look outside sometimes.

I suspect he had no idea what I was talking about but, as a customer, he could not tell me to blow it out my kazoo.  But I knew I was giving him good advice.