As we continue to read about the impact of Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Autonomous Vehicles, Robots, Drones. The Amazon Effect, and other technological advances on the supply chain, some supply chain managers are becoming increasingly nervous about the amount of change with which they are being confronted. Some of us are inherently nervous about any kind of change. Others are getting that way due to the increasing complexity of available options. Doing things the way they have always been done has been a safe technique for many, but usually results in the same, mediocre performance. In our industry, I am afraid those days over. We must confront change and embrace it. In this blog, I have included a poem entitled, The Calf Path, by Samuel Walter Foss that has helped me many times when I have been frustrated by change. Maybe it is time to step off the path.
One day, through the primeval wood,
A calf walked home, as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail as all calves do.
Since then two hundred years have fled,
And, I infer the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.
The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way;
And then a wise bellwether sheep
Pursued the trail o’er vale and steep,
And drew the flock behind him too,
As good bellwethers always do.
And from that day, o’er hill and glade,
Through those old woods a path was made;
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged, and turned, and bent about
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because ‘twas such a crooked path.
And still they followed – do not laugh –
The first migrations of that calf,
And through this winding wood-way stalked,
Because he wobbled when he walked.
The forest path became a lane,
That bent, and turned, and turned again;
The crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.
The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The road became a village street;
And this, before men were aware,
A city’s crowded thoroughfare;
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.
Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed the zigzag calf about;
And o’er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They followed still his crooked way,
And lost one hundred years a day;
For thus such reverence is lent
To well-established precedent.
A moral lesson this might preach,
Were I ordained and called to preach;
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf paths of the mind,
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
To follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,
And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.
But how the wise old wood-gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf!
Ah! Many things this tale might teach –
But I am not ordained to preach.