Supply Chain Lessons from Muhammad Ali

At age 74, Muhammad Ali known as “The Greatest Boxer of all Times” passed away from his decade’s long struggle with Parkinson. His daughter even said that when all his organs failed, his heart still kept beating for thirty minutes. This was a testament to the strong will he had. His inspirational traits and accomplished life are lessons that can be applied for personal growth and for your supply chain.

1-“Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.”

Flexibility in management of your supply chain will allow you to go after opportunities when they arise. If it means waiting at the seaport at 11 pm to make sure a high value shipment of pipes, for an oil pipe line, is cleared. Then prepare a pot of coffee for you and the customs man. Your client, whose bid contract you worked hard to win, will appreciate that there is no delay in their operations because of your initiatives.    

2-“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”

It is not just about the major operations. Look at how you do the day to day tasks at the office. Ask how you can make them less tedious, more organized and less repetitive. How are you assigning tasks and following up? Is it through countless emails? You can use project management software to assign tasks and view their progress.

3-“I hated every minute of training, but I said: Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion!”

It’s not about having the latest IT software, the crane that can lift the heaviest, or having the most delivery vans. It is about going the extra mile when others won’t. There was a delivery boy who came to our office on his day off to deliver to us important mail that he knew his colleagues would not be able to deliver. He went above and beyond his duty to ensure excellent service.

Lastly, Mohammad Ali’s said that champions are not born but are made by their will to strive for improvement and excellence. The best supply chain companies are not expensive advertisement campaigns but great customer service. It is not about being listed on the Dubai Stock Exchange. It is about exchanging ideas and cooperation. Your employees are your athletes. Make sure they have the best training to deliver excellent service in your company.

“Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them: a desire, a dream, and a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, and they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”

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