In the WSJ today, learned that UPS encourages / asks its office workers to help sort and deliver packages during the holiday delivery rush here. Quotes from WSJ article in blue italics.

UPS normally has “ready teams,” or office workers that help to sort, load or deliver packages, that it sends out to clear problem spots throughout the network. The initial sign ups are voluntary and usually set weeks before the busiest periods.  But UPS had to supplement those workers this year by calling in employees from various desk jobs with little notice.

This shows hustle. It’s customer-focused. It’s gritty.  It’s awesome.

Reminds me of the Chik-Fil-A tradition / rule where corporate executives spend 1 week a year working in the restaurants. As they say, “Either you are selling chicken, or helping someone sell chicken.” They know who they are and what they stand for. Same goes for UPS.

The day before Christmas – expect to see LOTS of UPS and FedEx trucks driving around town. You don’t need to see statistics to know that we are ordering more online. Looking at my Amazon prime account, I ordered 50+ shipments in the last 12 months. All hands on deck.

Some are delivering packages using their personal vehicles. 

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow down. Their personal cars? Hmmm. . .potential liability and added craziness. This is starting to sound less like a feel-good, company-culture story, and more like a mad rush to get packages out. “More hands on deck” even if it is inefficient?

UPS needs to react quickly to curveballs in the cadence of the peak delivery period, when daily package volumes double from normal levels, to avoid bottlenecks as the next surge of packages flow through the network.

Not always pretty. If you ever want to get the inside scoop, just Google the word “forum” and people are more than willing to tell you.  Here are some accounts of what it’s like to be a delivery helper here. Delivery trucks choked full of packages. Lots of re-sorting of packages after you go out on route.  Lots of running up/down the street because it’s not worth moving the truck. Lots of grit.  Lots of madness. Doesn’t this remind you a little bit of the I Love Lucy video where they are struggling to keep the production line of candies in order?

UPS and FedEx. Unlike Lucille Ball, package delivery works well in the US. They meet 97-98% on-time delivery, which is amazing. Can you imagine if you were on-time for 98% of your meetings, or reliably responded to 98% of your emails? Highly repeatable process (even if it gets a little crazy, and ugly during the peak season).

Fishbone diagram. Of course, we have to weave in some consulting stuff. I tell students to think about inputs and outputs. What are the elements which create year-end delivery craziness?  I came up with 12+ factors, but they bucket into: demand, supply, weather/logistics, and expectations. Anything I miss?

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