How Inventory Management Got Marty McFly Back to the Future

Great Scott! This Friday, November 12, 2010, is the 55th anniversary of the day Marty McFly went back to the future in Doc Brown’s Delorean time machine. Do you know what this means? It means… that this is a perfect time to talk about how Back to the Future is a metaphor for inventory management! Buckle up and prepare to be amazed by how inventory management got Marty back to 1985.

Back to the Future Doc Brown and Marty McFly, Inventory System Software Blog

Marty McFly’s Supply Chain

*SPOILER ALERT! It’s probably already too late, but you’ve been warned. Marty McFly represents a company’s product. Think about it – he’s the product of his two parents and he’s also the most important thing Doc Brown is trying to get back to 1985. Doc Brown represents a business, but we’ll get to that in a minute. First, we’ll talk about Marty’s suppliers.

Marty faces some serious supply chain management problems in Back to the Future. He unwittingly prevents his parents from falling in love as teenagers when he reaches 1955. Then he has to come up with creative ways (like using headphones, a Van Halen cassette tape and several science-fiction copyright violations) to get them to interact and fall in love so that he can continue to exist.

Without a good supply chain, manufacturers can’t produce their products. In this case, Marty’s parents need to produce a family. Businesses should strengthen their supply chain so they can continue running smoothly, or else they might be history!

Doc Brown’s Business

In 1955, Doc Brown is an inventor who almost always fails. He’s overjoyed when Marty comes to him and shows him that a time machine he hasn’t built yet will actually work. Now his task is to get Marty back to 1985.

Marty’s other supply chain problem is having enough fuel to travel through time because he went to 1955 without any extra plutonium. He has to find an alternative energy source to generate 1.21 gigawatts. Luckily, a bolt of lightning contains that much electricity, so it’s just a matter of channeling it into the time circuits while the Delorean is traveling at 88 miles per hour. Easier said than done, just like good inventory management.

Doc Brown quickly figures out what he has to work with and how to get the supplies he needs to move Marty forward in time. That sounds just like inventory management to me. Businesses need to take stock of what products, materials and supplies they have and what they need. Then they need to maintain an inventory balance and get products to customers at lightning speed.

A Happy Ending

Back to the Future has a happy ending, of course. Marty just barely makes it back to 1985 where he finds all is well with his family. You can give each of your customers a happy ending and make sure all is well for your business year after year by using inventory management software to balance your inventory needs and keep your business running at 88 MPH and beyond.

The image of Doc Brown and Marty McFly is the copyright of Universal Pictures.

About Robert Lockard

Robert Lockard is a copywriter with Fishbowl. He writes for several blogs about inventory management, manufacturing, QuickBooks and small business. Fishbowl Inventory is the #1-requested inventory management software for QuickBooks users. Robert enjoys running, reading, writing, spending time with his wife and children, and watching movies. His favorite movies include Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Fiddler on the Roof, Back to the Future and Lawrence of Arabia.
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5 Responses to How Inventory Management Got Marty McFly Back to the Future

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention How Inventory Management Got Marty McFly Back to the Future | Inventory System Software Blog -- Topsy.com

  2. Kameron says:

    If all supply chain management blogs were as clever and simplified as yours, then I might be out of a job. I work for the University of San Francisco’s master certificate program. They offer supply chain management certification for current and potential managers. The best part is, all the courses can be complete online, and they even have a sustainable supply chain management certification. Like inventory management, sustainability is too often overlooked by organizations but it is becoming more and more prominent and necessary.

    The way you analogize movie themes to real world business concepts is quite remarkable. It sure makes the learning process easier. Unfortunately, even the most intellectual leaders can struggle with supply chain management because there are so many underlying factors that can easily cause a tangled mess. Finding the right balance between supplier, employee, and customer satisfaction is critical, but certainly not easily attainable.

    • Thank you so much for your comment. I’m glad I can make the learning process easier by comparing hard-to-grasp concepts to movies and other forms of entertainment. Honestly, I’m usually having fun just describing supply chain management and other topics in ways I can understand. I sure hope I don’t put you out of a job simply by enjoying myself. 🙂

      I’m glad to see that your college is offering business courses that are clearly useful in the real world. Keep up the great work!

  3. Pingback: Top 10 Posts You’ll Never See on the Fishbowl Blog | Fishbowl Inventory Blog

  4. Pingback: Whiteboard Wednesday: Save Time with Inventory Management Software | Fishbowl Inventory Blog

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