“What gets left out is as important as what gets put in.”
Steve Jobs philosophy
I have a good friend named April, who has the coolest son, Lincoln. Lincoln is in grade one and looking forward to grade two. When I asked him his favorite subject, he declared “math”. So, probing further, I asked him what he liked about math…
“I like taking things away and seeing what’s left”.
I was startled. I’d never heard anyone claim their love of subtraction. Or taking things away from something and seeing what’s left. Of course, it got me thinking.
Flowcasting, as a concept and business process, is gaining lots of momentum. People are really beginning to understand that, when it comes to supply chain planning, most companies have been planning looking in the rear view mirror. Most are forecasting what should be calculated.
With Flowcasting, you only need to forecast at the item/store level and calculate everything else – all demand, supply, inventory, capacity, financial projections can be determined using this forecast.
The legendary Steve Jobs is a disciple of “subtraction thinking” – his colleagues claim that Steve was more interested in what gets left out versus what gets put in when designing a new product.
Flowcasting systems are systems cut from the same cloth.
Think about today’s planning systems and all their features. All kinds of bells and whistles – you know the drill, a different algorithm for each type of demand stream…special systems to help you decide on the algorithm…multiple forecasts and automatically picking the best one…a different planning system for slow selling items…a special system for allocation……etc… On and on it goes.
For retailers, these systems were built for a world that will someday no longer exist. A world where we were forecasting at the wrong level – DC’s, plants, etc. – anywhere other than the point of final consumption.
Technology companies are also beginning to understand and embrace the principles of Flowcasting.
Hopefully they’ll embrace the concept of “subtraction”. Instead of adding to their systems, they should be subtracting.
For the retail supply chain, forecasting is at the store level and only there. Simple approaches are all that’s required to forecast at store level and further remind yourself that all other demands can and should be calculated.
Are there systems available that support the Flowcasting process? Absolutely. They are elegant, simple and were built with “subtraction thinking” in mind.
It’s amazing what you can learn talking with a first-grader.
I plan on talking to Lincoln again soon.