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Has Supply Chain Made It On Broadway?

by Matt Davis  |  June 21, 2013  |  1 Comment

Kinky Boots, this year’s Tony winner for Best Musical, is about saving a shoe manufacturing plant in a small UK town by switching production from men’s loafers to high-heeled boots for drag queens. Probably sounds like your average day in supply chain, right?  Are we all the inspiration for Broadway and never knew it?!

I recently moved to NYC and in addition to gorging myself on great food, I also discovered same day rush tickets for Broadway that come at half the price of regular seats.  One of the shows I’ve been able to see is “Kinky Boots” which just last week won Tony’s for Best Musical, Best Lead Actor and several others.  And what’s really amazing, a good two-thirds of the show takes place in an old manufacturing plant.

The basic story is:

  • Family manufacturing plant of men’s shoes has slumping sales
  • Son takes over plant to discover financials are terrible as demand for shoes has shifted from quality to low cost, quick fashion
  • Son senses an unmet demand: high-heeled boots that can support the weight of a man dancing on stage
  • Son aligns product, demand and supply. Demand for kinky boots is analyzed, translated into new product specs and supply is aligned with objectives for quality, how to use new materials and updated processes
  • Boots a huge success, commence celebration group dance number

It might as well have been titled: “Kinky Boots: How demand-driven principles can save your factory!”  Ok, so there’s one example of Broadway’s admiration of supply chain, but are there others?  If we look for the real, hidden meanings, I think so.

  • Is “The Lion King” not an homage to product lifecycle management?  The “Circle of Life” is clearly describing the difficulties with new product launches and end-of-life management.
  • “Wicked”, the story of conflict between a good witch who’s not too good and a bad witch that’s really not that bad, celebrates challenges between Sales and Supply Chain in Sales & Operations Planning. (you can choose who’s which witch)
  • “Les Mis” tells the story of one man harassing another for the rest of both of their lives because one got some bread for free.  If it’s not the story of the procurement profession, I don’t know what is.
  • “War Horse” is literally a dog and pony show.
  • And “Phantom of the Opera” is about a dude who refuses to show his face at meetings and just goes around ruining other people’s plans. I had that job. It’s called master scheduling.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I do know I had a great time seeing an assembly line as a main stage prop.  What do you think? Are there other shows with hidden meanings?

I am now on Twitter @psumattdavis

Category: demand-sensing-and-shaping  gartner-supply-chain-top-25  supply-chain-segmentation  

Tags: gartner  scm  supplychain  gartnerscc  supply-chain  supply-chain-segmentation  

Matthew Davis
Research Director
3 years at Gartner
12 years IT Industry

Matt Davis is a Supply Chain Research Director and lead analyst for Supply Chain Strategy. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Has Supply Chain Made It On Broadway?

  1. Janet S. says:

    “Cats” is clearly about data management (think “Memory”)….

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