Monthly Archives: February 2021

Eggscuses eggscuses: lessons in supplier management

In the absence of high-falutin’-corporate-power-gigs of the old world, I appear to be having some sort of withdrawl symptoms. So it’s high time I applied some gold-standard-top-tier-blue-chip business rigour to the household, forthwith referred to as BeerCo.

This tale of high anxiety, woe and bitter industrial intrigue relates to one of my – it’s always “my”if you are that guy in that corporate – flagship local supplier arrangements. Now we at BeerCo have a strict moral code of ethical something or other. It’s brilliant – I wrote it obvs – and we have it on a giant brass plaque in our oppressive reception area, alongside the glass cabinet of industry awards wot we purchased our way into being awarded. Point five, or seven (or whatever) clearly states “we commit to reduce our food miles* in our canteen where possible (whilst turning a blind eye to a penchant for winter Strawberries and Tomatoes and simply don’t ask about avocados).”

Herein lies the local supply issue I wish to highlight and explain how our world class Agile Lean Methodology disciplines averted a short term nutritional disaster.

We have struck a supply chain agreement with a local domesticated organic fowl artisan production collective. This comprises of a call off system for high protein organic orbs in MOQs** of six. These products are rich in selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper. The packaging is bio-degrateable and we have even trailled a system of returning unsoiled packaging to the factory door. Orders have reached a standard dozen per transaction and the run rate has been two, perhaps three orders per week. As recompense there has been a credit and deposit system adopted where overpayment is accepted as is limited time debt trading terms.

Until this week.

Without a single word of pre-notification the implied run-rate standard SLA*** we had in place has been broken. The immediate implication is an additional item line order to be placed in the regular restocking missions that are undertaken to the back-up supplier distribution centre****. An unintended knock of this is the increased wear and tear on the transport infrastructure*****. Our JIT digital ordering system***** has been distrupted and this has stress tested our failover modes to the extreme.

Naturally I have raised this unannounced interruption of SLA with the relevant executive of the producer in a one-to-one-face-to-face-socially-distanced-meeting-scenario******. His entirely unacceptable corporate response was that a “chicken had died” and they shamelessly expected BeerCo to absorb supply delays due to (frankly forseeable) inhouse supply chain distruption fundamentals. (This beggars belief. Far be it for me to consider here where our internal supply-chain-technical-audit team stand on catastrophe management in this case. Questions will need to be answered at the highest level******* and court action will likely be considered. Procedures will require immediate review. We may be exposed in other supply arenas: this could be the tip of the iceberg lettuce.)

Rest assured that death of elderly poultry will not stop a full review into supply procedures herein. A BeerCo all-hands will be called at short notice******** and motions will be put before the committee. The contigency measures are now to be tested to the full as we ride out the inevitable backlash from consumers********.

Again, quick witted, British ingenuity came to the rescue with the junior team prepared to accept beans on toast as a fallback strategy.

Thank heavens our exceptional BRITISH exceptionalism of stiff-upper lip has held firm in these trying times.

I leave it to you dear reader to leave comments wherein you propose the moral or learning we might take from this sorry tale.********


*miles, not kilometers. We’re British and therefore special. We don’t do forrin distances.

**Minium Order Quantity

***Service Level Agreement

****Waitrose

*****maybe an extra bag for life gets used, but it is definitely around 200g more per shop carrid to the car.

******JIT digital ordering system = When we run out of eggs we send Will a WhatsApp Just In Time, or wander over and knock

******Will and I went for a walk

*******Gilly & Debbie

********Dinner tonight. I’m making veggie meetballs with a roasted-tomato sauce.

*********when the boy fancies an omlette he might have to have a toastie instead today

**********best stupid egg pun wins.

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Love thy neighbour? At least introduce yourself.

Blessed are we with some splendid neighbours here in the rolling valleys of Wiltshire. With lockdown 3.0 dragging its heels, a cheery hello on a walk is a tonic. The village WhatsApp group is helpful and good natured. Need eggs? Someone has chooks. Flat car battery? A charger.

You just know there is a “but…” coming and you’d be right.

When do blogs turn into rants? [Checks notes] About, ooh, now.

Next door was a derelict farm building and is now a bijou dwelling. Freshly filled with good, decent folk who are settling in well. This post is not about them. It is about another neightbour who is directly across the street.

I encountered the latter on yesterday’s daily fresh air fix and was bluntly cross examined about the new arrivals. Who are they? Where have they come from? Being a helpful sort, a cordial member of the community I answered, nodded at his supposedly pithy responses and – not a moment too soon – carried on.

Seconds later I experienced that “dammit” moment. What our French friends encapsulate gorgeously as L’esprit de l’escalier.

Dear reader: I know you are bursting with a question! How did yours truly know all the information about our newest neighbour? Well – hold on to your pyjama bottoms, put down your tea – the day after they moved in we knocked on their door, handed over a bottle of “welcome to the neighbourhood” fizz and introduced oursevles. We had – drumroll please – a chat.

Why can’t Lord Snipealot go say “hello” FFS? Am I doing this wrong? When a next-door are new, pop over and say “welcome”, no?

My uber-wit, mic-drop, way-too-late comeback skills need work I’ll grant you. So for the record, here is the energy I should have conveyed at the casual interrogation:


“Why don’t you ask them yourself you dick?!”

THINGS I DIDN’T SAY, FEB 2021

Other words have been edited from the above because I am a grown up. (This I keep telling myself. As if the mantra will somehow make it true one day. Because it has totally worked in other areas of life. Like, totally.)

[FYI: Dude has lived in the village forever, is not on the WhatsApp group and is minted. His conversation is always tilted to gaining/retaining the upper hand (as opposed to a more humane, appreciative inquiry). Next time I see him, I hope a little more cynical readiness will be with me.]

And there it is. We live in strange times. Times where a little empathy goes a long way. Where reaching out to people helps us all.

It’s not diffiuclt to be nice. It’s not about wealth. You just have to make a teensy effort.

Worth it if you want community.


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