This summer, Harvard Business Publishing will release Cassie Kull’s hotly-anticipated memoir that traces the darkest days of the Littlefield Technologies’ company 2SupplyChainz, Inc. and reveals the true story behind one of modern management’s greatest almost-comeback stories. ChiBus got an exclusive first excerpt from the blockbuster book.
Day 149, 7:00 PM
“GODDAMMIT MOTHERF***ER, F#$%*ING F%^& F*^%!,” bellowed Lori Knapp, Executive Vice President of Operations for 2SupplyChainz, the Littlefield Technologies manufacturer, as she burst through the conference room doors, hurling her laptop at the flat-screen TV across from her. She chucked her phone after it for good measure. Cassie Kull, Conor Flanagan and Hao Ning, all EVPs of Operations at 2SupplyChainz, looked on, their faces frozen in horror, as the state-of-the-art technology seemed to float in slow motion through the air until it met with the TV in an audible crunch.
On the rainbowed, pixelated screen it was still possible to see the devastating news that had sparked Knapp’s outburst. Fortune, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, the FT, BusinessWeek, US News and World Report and Cosmopolitan had published their annual company rankings and 2SupplyChainz was dead last in every poll—the worst company in the world. Early that morning, President Trump announced he would send the company to Mexico, to hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets.
2SupplyChainz had gone bankrupt not 5 days after Knapp, Flanagan, Kull and Ning were promoted to EVPs. They endured a 100-day factory shutdown during which time their cash dwindled to zero and their idle workers ran rampant in the facilities. Rumors swirled about re-order quantities that had essentially used up all the available cash…but no one could quite believe such incompetence. The office of 2SupplyChainz’ CEO René Caldentey insisted to the press that “at the moment, we have drawn no conclusions about our financial condition, nor do we relate it to the recent promotion of [the four individuals].” Nonetheless, the mood in the conference room was tense.
By no small miracle, 2SupplyChainz had persuaded an equally desperate bank to extend them credit. The four EVPs had spent the preceding days chained to their laptops, checking Facebook and drawing up the bullet proof plans that they hoped would catapult them to the top of the charts, or at least ahead of their fiercest competitor, Do Nothing Inc., where the managers proudly let the company run itself.
Seated around the conference table under a portrait of the lushly-goateed Caldentey, they presented their strategies. Ms Kull was first. “I decided to look at queuing theory,” she stated, haltingly. “Unfortunately I was on Gchat during our in-house presentation--so I had to use Wikipedia to develop a model of non-preemptive priority queuing.” The room nodded, worried that their skepticism resulted from not knowing the first thing about queuing theory. “But it wasn’t until I read The Goal,” she continued, her voice growing agitated, “that I really found the key to our problem!”
The mood in the room had suddenly shifted. “Yes!” shouted Ning, “The Goal is where I found our optimal batch quantity, as well as the most efficient order quantity and reorder levels!” “It’s uncanny,” muttered Flanagan, “you won’t believe this, but page 270 of The Goal, is where I discovered how we can maximize our machine purchase synergies to ensure consolidated ultimate capacity utilization, ungodly throughput levels and speed of light cycle time!”
The team stared at each other. Thank God someone had read The Goal.
Flanagan’s phone danced on the table—recently married, he hadn’t seen his wife for the 5 days he had spent on this quest for operational nirvana. As he left the room, to return to the arms of the woman he loved, he stared into the eyes of each of his team members one-by-one. It was almost uncomfortable. “Can I trust you, with this critical transaction?” They nodded. D-Day was mere hours away, at 2am. The meeting broke so the team could take their much-needed showers.
Day 150, 2:00 AM
At the proverbial moment of truth, Knapp and Kull fell asleep, quite literally on the job, exhausted from their hours of Excel modeling and dancing at Bar Deville (Ed. not in River North). Hao Ning was the only man left standing. Facing the delirium of sleep deprivation, he seized the tiller with an iron grip and launched 2SupplyChainz back into the turbulent waters of commerce, in the dogged pursuit of that ever-fickle mistress, Profit.
Cassie Kull is a 2Y who gratefully accepted her undisclosed grade in Operations.