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.
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.