On lean, container terminals and systems engineering

A nice article from Goran Ivanović. His observation that “less complex systems expose essential problems immediately, whereas large(r) systems (in all of logistics, supply chain, and services) take a lot more time to examine while also providing more cover and excuses for not dealing with real problems” reminds me of a great quote from a researcher at GM, “Corporations are simple beasts; they can be easily confused.”

Better Container Terminals

This post talks about the lean approach and its connection to container terminals, but also makes a point on systems engineering in general, may that be retail, production or transportation. Lean originates from manufacturing and has made headways into logistics, healthcare and even construction industry. To answer why there doesn’t seem to be much lean thinking in the container terminal world we start at an unlikely place — a game of chess.

The late, great Bobby Fischer, arguably one of the best chess players ever, had an interesting habit in his youth. He would deliberately play a game long past the point where it was clear he would lose. In doing so, the position on the board would often reduce to a trivial endgame. The story has it that his main takeaway was the perfection of his endgame — the stage of a chess game where players are left with only a handful of pieces.

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