For readers who are not Trekkies, we will let you in on the mystery. According to Wikipedia:
The Kobayashi Maru is a training exercise in the fictional Star Trek universe designed to test the character of Starfleet Academy cadets in a no-win scenario. The Kobayashi Maru test was first depicted in the opening scene of the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and also appears in the 2009 film Star Trek. Screenwriter Jack B. Sowards is credited with inventing the test. The test's name is occasionally used among Star Trek fans or those familiar with the series to describe a no-win scenario, a test of one's character or a solution that involves redefining the problem.
Two separate incidents brought the Kobayashi Maru test to mind for me recently.
First, a brief article from Wired magazine about hacking. Here is the opening portion of the article:
Virgil Griffith discovered the allure of hacking in 1993, while slumped at an Intel 80386 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He was 10, and he was on a losing streak at Star Wars: X-Wing. To hit the leaderboard, he'd need a fleet of ace wingmen, but he only had one X-Wing fighter that could hold its own in the game's World War I-style dogfights…. Digging around in the game's code, Griffith found that each pilot had its own file, so he cloned his good fighter. Copy and paste, copy and paste--fully 20 times. This gave him… "a plentiful supply of the best wingmen from then on." Players without Griffith's workaround were out of luck.
Those brave pilots, gouged from the game's code, seemed to serve as Griffith's guardian angels in the next few years, during which he lived by the hacker's creed: Enlightened cheating is the highest form of gameplay. You don't beat the TIE fighters. You beat the game itself.
[Heffernan, Virginia. "Twilight of the Hackers." Wired, February 2018, 13-16]
For me, the key is found in the last sentence: “You don’t beat the TIE fighters. You beat the game itself.”
The second was a conversation I had with Chad Smith, co-founder of Demand Driven Institute, along with Carol Ptak. The question that I (and others) had raised was, “How did Smith and Ptak settle on calling this new supply chain approach ‘DDMRP,’ since it acts almost nothing like traditional (Joe Orlicky-style) MRP?”
Chad Smith’s response was both enlightening and fascinating.
Unlike some might think, Smith told me, choosing the name ‘DDMRP’ “was not an opportunistic marketing ploy.” If you understand the literal of ‘MRP,’—i.e., Material Requirements Planning—then you can also see that using MRP here isn’t at all misleading, Smith suggests.
“The last thing in the world I ever expected to be a part of was something with the ‘MRP’ name attached to it,” Smith flatly tells me. When Carol [Ptak] and I decided on ‘Demand Driven MRP,’ we looked each other in the eye and said, ‘Do we really want to do that?’ The answer was, ‘well, that is what it is.’”
“We recognize that probably the last thing the world needed was ‘another version of MRP,’ Smith adds. “But, we felt it was important to be true to what we were actually doing.”
“The basic nature of MRP,” Smith further explains, “is to perform a calculation of dependencies… based on three basic inputs: 1) a source of demand, 2) a product structure file, and 3) inventory records. DDMRP has these same requirements.”
Hacking the system
So, how does all this tie together?
Here’s what I see. See if you agree.
Right now it is likely that hundreds of thousands of supply chain managers and executives around the world are trying to “win” at supply chain management using the traditional MRP “game” code. And, they are probably taking more losses (i.e., fewer wins) than they’d like.
What they would really like to do is “win” more rounds, like hacker Virgil Griffith in the article from Wired above. But, the MRP “code”—logic—isn’t letting them win. In fact, more and more, it’s seeming a lot like a no-win scenario. They are facing their own Kobayashi Maru no-win challenge.
What Ptak and Smith saw was the same thing that Captain Kirk and Virgil Griffith saw: If supply chain managers must continue to play the MRP game using the logic that exists in the native “code,” they will seldom win—and likely never win big!
So, Ptak and Smith, in developing DDMRP decided to “hack the code.”
DDMRP still MRP. It still does material requirements planning. It just does it differently—and better.
DDMRP “hacks” that old MRP code and give you and your supply chain management team a chance to “win” much more often and, even, an opportunity to win big in a conscientiously applied program that fully exercises the DDMRP and DDOM (Demand Driven Operating Model) principles and best practices.
Join the “hackers.” Win where other are struggling to win. It’s about time.
You’ve played alongside the other also-rans long enough. Break away from the pack with DDMRP.
We can help. Feel free to contact us directly, or leave your comment below. We would be delighted to hear from you.
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