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Communication algorithm in Logistics … 1 face to face/25 emails/8 phone calls.

I am not a person that takes a lunch outside the office during the workday.

Not because of a magical metabolism, or altrusitic belief that I have to be at my desk 10 hours a day without fail, but more for the fact that alot of our customers, vendors, carriers etc are not locally based.

This week, I was invited to an industry lunch with an old carrier rep/friend (as FYI great keynote speaker from REI on their new energy neutral DC in Goodyear AZ), a working lunch with a soon to be overflow transload provider, and had some refreshing “soda pops” with an old colleague/friend and his peer after work.

On all 3 occasions, on the way back to the office or travelling home, I was struck by the realization of how enjoyable it was to sit and talk with someone face to face outside of the day to day grind. Yes, we talked about our industry, ways to partner and grow our business endeavors, but I also learned something new about the people I was with over the course of a meal or beverage.

Learning about others families, sports teams, office politics, water cooler gossip etc helps you get a new perspective on not only your job/career, but on life in general.

When I first got into what is now called the Supply Chain industry (1992), the internet was not a primary tool for work (see: dial up modem via Netscape), the phones we used at Menlo Logistics in Beaverton, OR were direct connect Motorolas with the A, B, C (push the button three times to type C to find Charlie on the phonebook) functionality, and there was alot of lunches or dinners (or even breakfasts) as part of the communication process.

Today (and I am as guilty as anyone) if an issue arises, time to shut the office door, and really formulate a detailed e-mail or script bullet points for a WEBEX discussion forum.

The lost art of breaking bread with someone (customer/vendor/carrier/supplier), and really getting to know the person you are dealing with I fear is over.

With today technologies, it is much easier to multi-task, be on call and/or accessible 24/7, and push exponentially more product/services/volume than you could back in 1992.

After this week, I kind of long for the good old days where you spent more time with folks face to face rather than the myriad of business applications that seem to run every aspect of our work, and in alot of cases personal lives.

Give me a French Dip sandwich, salad with blue cheese dressing, Sprite, and some good folks for business and life discussions anyday!