April 18; Controlling Suppliers’ Attention to Detail;
MANAGEMENT BY THE BOOK:
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful

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Chapter Four: Relationships;18 April

When Jesus had entered Capernaum,

a centurion came to him, asking for help.

“Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”

The centurion replied,

“Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.

But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.

For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me.

I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes.

I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

Matthew 8:5-9

Controlling Suppliers’ Attention to Detail

Vendors

Your Business Professor was an Armored Cavalry Officer back in the day when boots got polished. Now, the cynic would observe that it made little sense to shine a boot black to a mirror shine then go stomping in the mud. So why did I insist on spit and polish?

Highly polished boots could be seen from a distance. And if the soldier did what I could see, then he probably cleaned his weapon and all his equipment–which I could not see or inspect. Clean boots were a proxy for a clean rifle.

Tom Peters was the first management consultant to earn over one million dollars per year (!). He says about the airline management, if the tray tables are dirty, the airline doesn’t do jet engine maintenance.

Vendor relationships is one of the larger challenges of leadership and control. Managing a contract with third party staff who may or may not report to the manager and who may or may not be subject to termination.

But the vendor must still be controlled where the performance is evaluated against the plan. The boss needs something like the accountants’ acid test or quick ratio to evaluate contract plan. It could be shined boots, a clean tray table…or brown M&Ms.

***

David Lee Roth was the lead singer for Van Halen, a rock bank in the late 1980’s. The band was an innovator that provided a light show in addition to music to entertain our sight and sound generation. The equipment was heavy and bulky. And could be dangerous. Electrical and load bearing tolerances were carefully outlined in the promoter’s contract. The flooring, stage and overhead rafters had to support tons of light show.

The rock star promoter is a third party vendor who provided a needed service between the band and the arena venue. The contract between the promoter and a rock band was often a few pages of boilerplate, which could be routinely, safely ignored before the Van Halen experience. Roth’s contract was the size of a phone book. Which could not be ignored.

There would not be time for the band manager to check every detail; to check the amp load of every outlet. David Lee Roth needed a short cut to learn if the promoter actually read the thick contract. So Roth inserted brown M&Ms.

Buried in the verbiage would be a requirement for M&Ms back stage. And that there would be no brown M&Ms in the bowl. If any browns were found, then the promoter would forfeit his compensation and be liable for any resulting damages.

***

If brown M&Ms were found, then the agreement was not read. Fees were lost. And the band would then trash the dressing room, as the story goes.

The vendors soon learned to read the contract.

I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” Matthew 8:9b

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