Going to the theater can be an important part of people’s lives; it is a form of entertainment and escapism. Whether it is a light-heart performance or one with a deep underlying political message, they all take a considerable amount of time to plan and execute correctly. A successful performance takes great planning, rehearsing and evaluating: from script to stage, each step is as influential as the next. Each process leading up to the live performance is valuable to the end result. There are many unexpected turns in production: new cast members could be added, a change in direction could be taken or even a change of the entire play itself. Nevertheless, a solution is always found.
Based on my own experience in my roles as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and Scaramouche in We Will Rock You, I can safely say the supply chain industry can learn some valuable lessons from the theater industry. The two practices can easily be related, and grueling planning is not the only overlap. Through things such as constant teamwork, trust and audience/customer engagement, an outstanding performance in both industries can be achieved.
Everyone is valuable!
A main lesson to learn from the stage is “There are no small parts, only small actors,” said by the great dramatist, Konstantin Stanislavski. He emphasized the need for all actors to feel valued. Whether they have a main role or non-speaking role in the ensemble, every cast member has the chance to affect the outcome of a performance. Through appreciating this role, and making it your own, there is no stopping you from developing and finally getting the lead in later performances.
This can be directly related to the supply chain; all workers throughout the industry have equal importance and deserve to be treated fairly. A small part in the manufacturing of a product still has to be executed to its best, as failure to do so can have serious repercussions later along the chain. There are key players throughout a supply chain network, but all suppliers, manufacturers and distributers, no matter how big, have earned their place and should not be overlooked or disrespected. This example shows how each stage of the supply chain should be treated with as much care and importance as the next. It is just like playing with dominos; when one falls, the others go down with it.
Trust creates confidence!
Trust is an important part of creating a seamless performance. Physical exercises that reinforce trust are practiced amongst cast members in order to build strong relationships. This is important to improve understanding and create a comfortable environment with the space for honesty. People will then be confident enough to voice their opinions once mutual trust has been developed.
In the supply chain, this can be seen in regards to relationships between companies and their suppliers and manufacturers. Sharing knowledge and thoughts is important to understand one another and provide the chance to fully optimize operations. Working collaboratively will build trust from the beginning. It is important to establish a strong relationship, which clearly outlines everything needed and expected from certain suppliers. An open communication channel will help to secure this and develop a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship throughout the working period. It will also help to avoid conflict, and misunderstandings can be efficiently handled.
Reactions are telling!
An audience’s reaction is one way to evaluate the success of a performance; do they seem impressed or affected by the piece they have seen? Their reaction is what makes all the effort worthwhile – just like the level of satisfaction from a customer. The evaluation of customer experience can help to transform the supply chain and its decisions for the future. By integrating this into operations, it will help point out failures in the system. Just like reviews of performances, reviews from customers show the highlights and lowlights of a particular experience.
‘Breaking the fourth wall’ is a concept created by Bertolt Brecht that consists of the imaginary fourth wall between the characters and audience being broken through, directly addressing the audience and eliminating the feeling of a ‘fly on the wall’ experience. It can create more of a lasting impact as the audience will feel directly involved in the performance, and is encouraged to evaluate the situation in regards to their own lives. By using this concept with customers, they feel more appreciated as the company is going the extra mile to ensure their satisfaction by dealing with them directly and involving them in the supply chain process.
The center is where it’s at!
Center stage is where most of the action takes place. It highlights key moments and emphasizes a character’s or scene’s importance. It is also an actor’s moment to stand out from the rest and leave a memorable impression on the audience. Being unique and embracing your own ideas for a character makes a performance more personal, as it is your own interpretation.
This can also be applied to the supply chain industry. Just because one company has a successful plan, it does not mean it will work for others. It may leave a lackluster effect and fail to excite workers or executives. Last week, Target was criticized for using a plan right from Walmart’s playbook. It is argued that Target would benefit more from a strategy that sets itself apart rather than using Walmart’s strategy. The circumstances for both companies are different, so Target cannot guarantee success just because the plan has proven successful for Walmart. It shows how copying a successful idea does not always fit in with one’s own attributes. By analyzing its own successes and weaknesses, a new strategy, tailored to their existing supply chain, can be found which would allow them to step into their own spotlight, rather than trying to take someone else’s.
The process of creating a successful supply chain is challenging. Through ensuring employees feel valued, establishing trust, and considering customer satisfaction, a supply chain can finally shine in center stage. With the ideas presented in this article, you can see how the two industries are alike, every stage and member of the supply chain and theater industry is important. Of course, the theater industry is filled with drama, but that could also be said about the supply chain!
What steps do you think should be taken for a supply chain to shine in center stage?
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