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The #1 Goal for the Best Logistics Providers: Be Invisible

Alex Stark | August 07, 2014

It’s hard to be invisible. 

One day last week, I sat in my office for hours thinking “be invisible…be invisible…. be invisible…”  But when people walked by and said “Hi Alex,” I knew it wasn’t working. 

Invisible runs counter to human nature.  Most of us want to be noticed and appreciated.  We need that positive affirmation.  Your boss telling you “good job.” Your wife saying, “I’m glad I married you instead of Fred.” 

But good logistics support is about being a seamless partner.  It’s about being invisible.

No one organizes a pizza party because the Walmart order arrived at the DC on time.  But when it doesn’t, alarms go off, nasty emails are written and the boss gets in a really bad mood.  

Invisibility can be boring.  Take soccer.  As a spectator, I’m not a big fan of 1-0 soccer games.  But often the winning team in soccer is boringly efficient.  Individual players are not aggressive or flashy, they simply don’t make mistakes. 

That takes a certain discipline.  The kind exhibited by the stagehand who makes sure everything is in place for the on-stage talent, or the speechwriter who pours her soul into every word, but who knows her name will never get linked to the speech.

In third party logistics, it helps to have a culture similar to that of the boringly efficient soccer team.  It’s important to have associates who appreciate precise execution for its own sake.  Who take a deserved sense of pride when the customer, not them, earns the spotlight for great logistics work. 

Seamless logistics support requires a culture where associates act as extensions of their customer’s logistics team.  Who sweat the details, pinch pennies and lose sleep…right alongside their customer. 

When you search for a logistics partner, beware of service providers who wear their medals on their chest and want to tell you about every award they have ever won.  Is it their goal to be boringly efficient?  Do they have the culture to be invisible?