Take a journey with me to an alternate universe.
Imagine you’re in your favorite coffee shop in early spring of 2020…without a pandemic. The weather is still cool outside, but you can tell it’s going to warm up and be one of those fresh early spring days in the city.
The smell of French roasted coffee and freshly baked pastries moves lazily through the sun filled café and you have taken your favorite seat, the large leather chair in the corner that gets enough light so you can read the journal, but also sits at enough distance from the rest of the cafe so you can truly relax and enjoy your coffee.
This morning is different. This morning you need to concentrate on the challenges of one of your portfolio companies, let’s say it’s a national distributor of bubble gum, Consolidated Gum. For some reason Consolidated Gum profits are down but no one quite knows why because along with the resurgence in vintage baseball card sales -- a valuable channel partner -- chewing gum sales have seen an increase in top-line growth.
You’ve looked at the data from every angle, it’s certainly not clear, but this is the kind of problem you excel at solving.
It’s why you’ve moved up to portfolio manager and sit on the board of three of the world’s largest privately-owned retail logistics companies. If you can just connect the dots you will crack the problem... And likely be able to apply the solution across your portfolio.
Sales are up. Profit is down. Hmm…
Then aha! A spark fires and your eyes grow wide -- not at the article on lipstick manufacturing you were reading -- but because deep in that brain of yours is the answer emerging from your genius.
The last report you stayed up all night reading, the one Greg, CTO of Consolidated Gum almost didn’t get to you, showed how the aging truck fleet maintenance had nearly doubled but the lease contracts included repair costs, so no problem, and deliveries were still on time...but what the report didn’t show, for some reason, was that trucks had been rented for short-term rates to fill the hole! And those costs were…
A shadow moves over your paper and you look up annoyed. It’s Greg himself!
Sorry, he says but he’s been trying to find you. The last report he sent had a data set that his team mislabeled, using an old taxonomy and system the Western division had been using for so long that after a few attempts, and some high priced consultants, they had so much trouble updating that Consolidated Gum Corporate just goes through an extra calibration step for the data reports to make sure they’re synchronized.
Sorry, what? You ask, slightly bewildered.
Smiling sheepishly, he hands you the flash drive with the new report. “All those computer upgrades across divisions -- before I came on -- have made things so much more complicated. Adoption down to the frontline is meeting some unanticipated roadblocks. We’re working on it…” Greg waves, puts on his sunglasses and saunters back out to the street.
He has left you squinting in your chair, wondering who else could be working on it…
Of course, there is us.
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