The devil is old

"The devil is old"

My grandmother used to say that. I was reminded of that when I saw the titanic fight between two older men in the U.S. who have the ambition to become president of this huge nation with all the responsibilities that entails. Without going into depth about the motivation of these gentlemen, they have been able to attract huge numbers of votes in the primaries and beyond. The president of the U.S. faces a tough task and I wish him wisdom, care, patience and empathy.

Why am I talking about this?
Well, I’ve also started a new career. I have decided to make myself available for business. I recently said goodbye to my colleagues at Stena Line, to whom I have been able to give my strength since 2004. Stena Line where I started at the age of 50 as responsible for Freight and where I was able to share my experience after having worked for a long time in the world of Transport, Forwarding, Logistics and Supply Chain Management.

Why this ambition?
First of all, like the two presidential candidates, I have the ambition to still be meaningful. Tried and tested, all economic setbacks may experience and all the mistakes made that are necessary to have been able to learn from them.

Over the years I see things that have changed, the structure of the organizations and unnecessary management layers. I see one management layer on top of another and spend whole days reporting to each other. I see more distance between client and logistics service provider.

Of course, we have increasingly started working with IT systems that seamlessly link data together. Fine, that’s how it should be! But it sometimes seems that the business community and the logistics service provider invest too little time in a close relationship. A relationship that is not only benchmarked but will also have to contribute to the success of the client. But is there also enough time invested in being successful together?

Does the business community sufficiently recognise the importance of cooperation and not just the “throttling” of the logistics service provider?

I see more and more that asking a question by direct telephone contact is discouraged with telephone queues and reference is made to the ‘Questions and Answers’ section on websites.

Email is promoted as an alternative, but unfortunately, the discipline of replying to emails is not always 100% adequate. In fact, everyone knows the problem of zippering e-mails that are hardly read anymore due to the enormous amounts and that this also reduces the care and response time. Are you not surprised when an organization answers you on the same day?

We are meeting a bit off now. Of course, everything must remain coordinated. But what about delegating and keeping the responsible layer in the organization? And, if you put that low in the organization, don’t we keep the performers too much of their work with unnecessary meetings?

Have we set up our organizations correctly?

  • Are we sufficiently equipped for the right customer friendliness?
  • Do our sales managers know the clients through and through?
  • Do we sell what we can offer and do we really offer what has been sold?
  • Is our accessibility and customer-friendliness as good as our intended efficiency?

These are the questions that concern me and on which action needs to be taken. I see that the business community and the logistics service provider, different from company to company, is struggling with this. The margins are razor thin. We need to be able to do better and we need to get to work on this.

Time to reflect.

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