Tapping the Global Citizen In Us All

And a joyful Taco Tuesday to all!

This semester never ceases to surprise me, not because I really enjoy my classes, which I really, really do, but also because of the self-discovery that never seems to stop.

In my supply chain management class tonight, we talked about our abilities to influence the world, and how the demand for education is continuing to grow exponentially, all within the context of business demand forecasting and planning. We watched a TED talk on how child survival rates directly affects world population growth, and what that really means for the future of our planet. Aside from having a nine billion person population, we’ll also have two billion new potential customers.

What has shocked me about that course so far is how much of a global perspective  it promotes in the 14 of us who attend on a regular basis. Supply chain is often thought of as how you convert a bucket of screws, some bolts, and some tires into a shiny, polished sports car, but it is so much more.

The beauty of logistics is that it impacts every single facet of every business on the face of the planet. You have to know why you’re in business. You need to plan for your customer’s needs. You must balance supply with demand, while offering affordable pricing but must still make a profit. You need to have phenomenal relationships with your suppliers.You need transportation to carry your goods from A to B, and onward to your customers or distributors. You need to know when your business model is failing so that

The complexity and requirements of even a basic supply chain is mind numbing, let alone the behemoth monstrosity that comprises Wal-Mart’s global supply chain system.

But, I digress… The point was that especially as MBA students, we will have the power to make real-life decisions that impact businesses and people all over the globe. My teacher was smart enough to quote a superhero movie in closing when he told us that “with great power comes great responsibility.”

It was precisely at this moment that I realized I sure complain a whole lot. I don’t “have money” for sparkling new triathlon gear, an awesome car, or a massive house, and find reasons to be dissatisfied. However, I never go hungry and I always seem to have a roof over me. It’s amazing by how much have we been blessed with just as American citizens, let alone as college-educated individuals pursuing higher degrees and yet we still find things to complain about.

It’s far too easy to ignore the great blessings that we have, and an even greater sin to not use the many advantages and wealth that we have to help others. I’m not suggesting to sell all your possessions and move to Africa, but I think there are very real steps we can take to help those around the world who are less fortunate.

Diving back into supply chain, we talked about the idea of lean manufacturing. Basically, don’t create waste in anything you do. Whether it’s raw material, labor, or a finished product, nothing should be wasted. You should only be producing items that have a buyer or know that it will be sent off to a customer. It’s this idea that was presented to us that lays the groundwork for greatly impacting the world…

Great, paradigm-crushing ideas only happen once or twice in our lives. It’s the little decisions that really have the biggest impacts on our lives and those around us. The developed Western world has a new role in post 9/11 world. We must begin serving as the foundation for the rest of the world to springboard off of.  I’m definitely not suggesting that Europe or the US does everything right, but their quality of life is higher, and we are the ones empowered to do something with that. What little actions can we each take to have an impact?

Personally, I am going to try and limit my waste. Tomorrow at work, I should be doing everything as efficiently as possible and strive toward creating educational value in everything that I do. As a citizen I can work on wasting less goods or food, and be better about living within my means.

I don’t really consider myself a global citizen, because frankly, they’re 5000 miles away and I will not meet 99.99% of the people in the world. I’ve traveled internationally several times, and yet I still have a very narrow view of the world. Yes, I greatly appreciate other cultures and countries but do I think of them when I make decisions? Definitely not. I’m not becoming an environmentalist and preaching that the world will soon end if we don’t recycle our Pepsi bottles. I’m simply saying that each of our choices has a very real and measurable impact on the world around us, and we should do our best to be excellent stewards with the resources we’ve been given to use.

 Would your life look any different if you were striving to cut out excessive waste creation?

Picture credit 1. Picture credit 2.

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