What Movies Can Teach You About Running Your Business

2016 Best Supply Chain Movies

Supply Chain Premiere
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Welcome to the 2016 OSCA’s! For the uninitiated among you, the OSCA’s are Hollywood’s most anticipated supply chain awards. These are the third annual OSCA’s and, as mentioned in past years, referring to these supply chain movie awards as the Optimized Supply Chain Awards was not the worst idea for articles with informative and actionable small business tips

So before opening the Academy’s cease and desist letter, let’s kick off the OSCA’s — the best supply chain movies of last year.

Honorable Mention

There are supply chain lessons aplenty in these almost nominees (disguised as cinematic fun):

Captain America: Civil War

If you’ve ever been part of an organization in which two departments compete to achieve their strategic goals, you’ve experienced Marvel’s third Captain America installment first hand. Civil War’s superhero airport fight scene was nothing if not a reenactment of most Sales & Operations Planning meetings. 

Your sales department is Team Iron Man — trying with all its might to force its worldview on Team Supply Chain, or, Team Captain America. Your supply chain team knows how to keep costs down, deliver products on time and optimize business processes — just like Cap knew there was a Hydra death squad about to be unfrozen in Siberia. Iron Man finally got wise and figured out he was wrong and that he should have listened to his supply chain professionals (or Captain America). Let’s hope your sales team gets wise, too. 


Your supply chain is back ordered and you travel to far off places to ensure optimized sourcing and supplier engagement can get your company back on track. Along the way, you team up with a demi-god, fight pirate coconuts and become chief supply chain officer. Moana is a supply chain parable about ensuring you can deliver what your customers want (your island’s fish and plant life is dying!), when they want it (now!) — and spend as little money as possible getting that done (one negotiation with a stubborn supplier, or a lava demon, was all it took). 


And speaking of delivering what your customers want, when they want it — if you haven’t seen Lion, find it. Watch it now. You’ll see that just because a delivery is late, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be delivered. Even 20-plus years might not be too late if your customer is super patient.

And the 2016 OSCA Nominees Are


A supply chain movie is one that delivers its customers (us) what we want (entertainment), when we want it (when we’re watching said movie) and do that by spending as little money as possible (and while Zootopia cost around $150 million to make, it grossed over a billion dollars worldwide — we’d all take a cost of goods that is 15 percent of our revenue). So while Zootopia meets the standard supply chain movie definition — it’s also that rare movie that actually shows a working supply chain and makes that working supply chain as cool as supply chains really are. 


As you follow our young hero’s heartbreaking and transformational journey from boyhood to adolescence to adulthood, you’ll no doubt be thinking of your supply chain. Your products track along the same path as Chiron, from supplier to distribution channel to customer. Whether you can deliver your customers the same satisfaction that Moonlight delivers to its audience depends on whether your product planning and quality are as optimized as writer/director Barry Jenkins.


The ability to heal from any crisis and continue optimizing your supply chain — that’s what super anti-hero Deadpool does. And that’s what he can teach you. Your supplier puts a bullet through your groin? Initiate a sourcing project and find a new supplier. Your customer sticks a knife in your head? Drive on, small business owner, and optimize your delivery and product quality. At the end of the day, you’re going to have to find a way to beat the odds and deliver quality products to your customers, while making enough money to keep the franchise — i.e. your company — going.

Rogue One – A Star Wars Story 

We may have already proven that Star Wars is the greatest supply chain story ever told. And Star Wars: The Force Awakens waltzed off with the 2015 OSCA. But we have a dynasty rule here at the OSCA's. So no back-to-backs.  


Spoiler alert. Do not read this paragraph unless you have seen the movie. Or you want it spoiled. Or you want it explained if you saw it and found yourself head-scratching instead of jaw-dropping. This movie asks, “What is on-time delivery?” This movie proves that lead times are not what they seem. This movie is about how your small business can use demand planning to see into the future and anticipate customer requirements. Supply chain can be mind-blowing. 

And the 2016 OSCA Goes to

Hidden Figures 

Working behind the scenes to drive the success of an organization? Check. Winning the respect of your colleagues only after you achieve what they were unable to do? Check. Transform a struggling agency into a world-class organization and be rewarded with a cup of coffee? Check. 

Hidden Figures wins the 2016 OSCA for its spot-on supply chain storytelling (oh, and it also reminds us what we as a human species might be able to accomplish if we stop judging, hating and all start rowing in the same direction).