Regarding this article that appeared in Just-Style; I don’t want to get too far into his arguments because that could lend the impression his ideas were worth the value of time it took to dispute them. That statement sounds uglier than I mean it to sound. Really.
The author has based his premise of a fast time-line based on the patterns of business organization in the same ways as I laid it out in my book. You know, 1 week for this activity, another week for the other etc, so I agree there; I see that as a good thing; there’s a lot for large companies to gain from the thing. And I’ll even admit it’s flattering that he proposes many of the prescriptives I wrote eight years ago (in the book) but his prescriptives for push manufacturing’s structural weaknesses are an exercise in futility. It would appear his main reliance to getting people to come online is through expediting. Trust me, you can’t build on a process in crisis mode as a matter of course and expect to avoid critical failures. The risks are too high.
Second -ignoring for the moment the plan’s failure to nail a concept at the outset- is his method of obtaining people’s cooperation -relies on authoritarian rule. It relies on management to throw their weight around with “the programme is the VIP coming through the system” which means he believes you have to wave a big stick at people in order to get them to perform and that’s never been lean. Third, the entire thing will fall apart if suppliers don’t line up to front them fabric on spec -and without a purchase order no less. Fourth, he assumes that the fast-turnaround will result in an increase of margins but speed means nothing. Getting yet more homogenized styles into stores faster just means you’ll beat the other guys with homogenized styles -and who cares? It’s just more of the same stuff only faster and I think we agree that people are sick of that. I doubt it would realize the returns commensurate with the efforts and all of the required discounts. Zara produces more innovative styles than those manufacturers to whom he would direct his message and they don’t discount! But probably the biggest offense was “make the commercial arrangement independent of the transaction” which was a fancy way of saying, “get the suppliers to supply us in exchange for a cut on the deal”. I can’t tell you how many offers I’ve had like that. There is no way a supplier is going to front them fabric on such a risky venture; they’re not any stupider than I am.
In the shower, I decided I could do no less than the same. Tomorrow I’ll be posting my prescriptives for push manufacturers on a fast track time-line. And why not? I give all of you free advice. Who’s to say someone won’t modify their M.O. and adopt new leaner behaviors? Zara et al is a truly compelling study and I think we all have much to learn from them. Still, the fact remains that the leanest act more like DEs than not. Take comfort in that my friends, when besieged by scheduling brutalities.
On an entirely unrelated note, it would appear that Women’s Wear Daily has a sense of humor. Upon first discourse, they did not like the placement of their link in the left side bar under “Sites I Don’t Like but Visit Anyway” considering that I am -officially- a subscriber. Once I mentioned the conspicuous absence of other media -and the implied meaning of such- they agreed they’d prefer to remain as they are. Soon, I will be accepting their advertising. As I said, WWD has a sense of humor. I was pleased as punch; I like people with a sense of humor.