Former president of the United States, Rutherford B. Hayes once said:


Virtue is defined to be mediocrity, of which either extreme is vice. [1]Cemetery scene


“Everybody’s doing it”

Surely we all recall our days as teenagers.


You remember: when your parents told you that you should stop doing something, and your response was, “But, everybody’s doing it!


You probably also recall your parents’ response: something like, “So, if everybody jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?”


Hooked on Mediocrity

We all feel somehow safer in doing whatever it is we are doing—even if what we are doing is wrong or foolish—if there are lots of other folks doing the same thing.


For some reason, we feel like it is virtuous—or, at least, more acceptable—to run with the pack. And, running with the pack—being an “also-ran”—is the very definition of mediocrity.


We admire those supply chain leaders who excel. We admire those companies that have achieved something outstanding in their ability to meet their customers’ needs.


But, we tend to admire them from afar.


If we are going to attempt to emulate them, we often do so timidly—taking half-steps that (all too frequently) cannot and will not yield the kinds of results these market leaders have achieved.


Mediocrity defined

Here are some synonyms for mediocrity:

  • Weakness
  • Averageness
  • Ordinariness
  • Commonplace


How many of you sat in your last corporate strategy meetings and said anything like the following?

  • “I believe our goal should be to have weak supply chain.”
  • “Let’s do what everybody else is doing so we can have an average supply chain.”
  • “If we continue to do what everyone else is doing, we can have an ordinary supply chain and suffer the same risks as all our competitors.”
  • “Our supply chain should be commonplace, so top management can’t blame us if things don’t go according to plan. After all, if everyone else is doing it this way, it can’t be all bad.”


Don’t end up in the graveyard of mediocrity

Mediocrity is not a virtue.


The virtue of excellence is what you admire in others. You don’t think: “Wow! That company is really average! We should try to be more like them.”


We all want to avoid the vice of failure; but few are willing to take the risk of moving away from the crowd—even when we see the huge rewards experienced by companies and supply chains that do.


Someday, all the smart supply chains will have learned the secret of becoming truly demand-driven. [2] Until then, you have the chance to become a real leader by becoming excellent.


What keeps you from excellence is setting your sights too low—and then achieving your goal of mediocrity year after year. That is the real vice!


Your turn

It’s your turn.


Tell us about your successes or failures and how you are addressing the issue of management control in your supply chain operations. Leave your comments below, or feel free to contact us directly, if you prefer.



[1] Presidential Humor. Morton Grove, IL: Publications International, 2015.

[2] Demand-driven, as articulated by the Demand Driven Institute and the book Demand Driven Performance Using Smart Metrics by Smith and Smith.



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