I have been reading lately a little bit about the Great Leap Forward in evolution.  Not the terrible time in China in 1958-61 when the regime may have  killed over 20 million citizens.  The Great Leap was an event when mankind (homo sapiens) suddenly changed about 50,000 years ago.  We suddenly changed and started showing advanced thinking such as problem solving,  music,  compex language,   bartering,  and trade with other groups.   Commerce.  (suddenly is a great concept in sociology… Really means over a few dozen generations,  so a few hundred years.  Not exactly precision!) 

Where are we in the scale of ‘Retail Evolution?’ Are we evolving slowly or has the last 10-20 years been a Great Leap? Or just small linear progression ? Natural evolution?

Think back 20 years : POS,  Merch,  Inventory,  AP,  etc were reasonably close to what  it is today. Slower, more manual,  but the basics were similar.  (sorry systems friends… But its pretty true)  

What has changed is the speed,  the connectivity,  the Ecom,  the Globalization.  And the Analytics.   And Analytics drives Business.  (feel like I heard they somewhere before) 

The analytics into merchandising have been revolutionary; we look at size,  color,  brand  supply chain,  and more recently pricing.   Optimization is a great buzzword. Optimization using machine learning to predict tne future based on the past to determine the right product at the right time in the right amount at the right price. 

The increase power has lead to increased speed,  led to great strides in the  decision chain as well as the supply chain.  And great gains in profitability – which compensates for the huge increase in competition. (hopefully) 

But is it a Great Leap Forward or just a point on the curve ramping up through technology?  In other words,  are we going to look back 15 years from now and see these things as a foundation of a process that evolved?  Or will we look at it as the ‘next-gen people’ look at ‘cavemen’  and wonder how we lived like that? 

 If optimization and analytics is just a small step in the natural progression,  what would a GREAT Leap be??? 

Start the Revolution. 

That Planning Guy 

Seemingly Random Events

I have been thinking a lot recently about everyday events that occur- and how they all link together. Or do they? Does a person or an event change the future?

Does big data explain – and predict- randomness? Can we??? Is it the job of data science to shape the future? 

A car pulls out in traffic, and cuts off another car, causing 2nd car to slam on his brakes.  The car behind him hits his brakes to avoid collision, and behind him a little less so (time and distance spaced to make it less ‘crisis’) But a 4th car was not watching, and swerved into oncoming lane and hit an oncoming car.  Which random event caused what?

In chess there are exactly 20 opening moves, and turn 2 equally 20.  So at the start of player 1, turn 2, one of 400 scenarios has happened.  19 more possible moves (or reactions at this point) and 19 for Player 2 means at the end of 2 full turns, there are almost 145,000 possible board layouts.  Seemingly random? Or action-reaction/cause and effect perhaps?  And more importantly, Is there a difference?

As Scott Adams postulated, are we all just moist robots? Is free will an illusion?

When I meet a new person, if I choose to just dismiss and say “Hey, how are ya” and walk off, versus having a conversation, engaging with that person, how does that affect future outcomes? Was that the person who will have an impact later in your life? Or would it have been?

Social Media makes these engagements far more common. If you accept that LinkedIn contact, is that a person who will give your company a huge game-changing order down the road? Or will you hire them, and they develop a new software/process/widget that forever changes the industry?

What if Jobs hadn’t met Wos? Or if Paul Allen’s parents had moved out of town, and he never met Bill Gates? (or even more random, if Allen hadn’t read about the Altair 8800 Microcomputer in Popular Electronics and suggested they could program a basic interpreter for it? He read Sports Illustrated that day instead. No Microsoft? No software revolution? )

Malcolm Gladwell tried to explain some of these are right-place/right-time in the book ‘Outliers’- but I don’t necessarily agree that they are explained away.

We hear about a butterfly flapping its wings in Africa and causing a hurricane. I think there a million random occurrences per day. Or are there none, and they’re all pre-determined, like the 145K moves in the first 2 turns at chess.

If I had not decided to change jobs in 1999 to a completely different field, where would I have ended up? And the people I met along the path have had some affect as well, like the steering currents of wind and water on the hurricane. 

In Summer of 94, I owned a pool service company in New England.  For the winter, a buddy suggested I work with him at a part time job.  If I wasn’t in that job in 1995, I wouldn’t have moved West.  So I wouldn’t have started new role in 99.  Or this new position in 2006. Or this website in 2016.  So a buddy hooked me up with a simple part-time job for the winter, and set off a chain? Or was it all unrelated, and just one of the 145,000 outcomes in the first 2 moves.

Moist robots. 

“You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that’s clear, I will choose freewill” – Rush


New year 

The calendar calls Jan 1 New Years day,  but I think that’s arbitrary.   Wasn’t that  determined by a Roman Emperor in about the 3rd century?  (Gregory?  Julias?Augustus? Sorry,  I follow the Greek history more!) School years are Aug to June… So why would  Planning Guy years be locked into a traditional calendar? In planning we plan seasons anyway.  Spring/Summer in my world is Feb to about Sept.  Planning is flexible within a rigid environment.  

In my house we plan years by our annual pilgrimage to Maui.   As I am currently sitting at the airport, yesterday ended the 2016 year  to me, and today starts the New Year. 

2016 was a good year.  No major health issues,  no catastrophic events in my life.   Launching this website,  several great speaking events,  made many new amazing friends and  met hundreds  of interesting people. Learned an incredible amounts of skills and lessons. 

2017 will be a year of change and transitions.   I dont know exactly what changes will occur but there will be many.   Some will be small,  some big.   Planning means evolving.  

To the friends I made in 2016, to the old friends I reconnected with,  to the ones who continue to be in ny life,  I appreciate my time with you,  and the effect you have. 

Time to board,  and start the new year.  

Aloha,  and Mahalo.

I am… That Planning Guy 

Amazing Event

The Big Data and Analytics for Retail event was really fun.  I love when you get a room full of very smart people talking about what they do,  area of expertise,  etc.

I always find these events not just educational,  but a general good time.   Seeing what others are doing well and struggling with validates my own opinions,  as well as adds perspective.
Always seem to make some new friends and contacts as well! Being in Chicago is also a great time.

Now back to the real topic: Analytics Drives Business.

-That Planning Guy


Ran into one of my favorite people this morning whom I hadn’t seen in several years.  Was absolutely wonderful seeing her,  and made me think about the protégé relationship.

Having an amazing protégé must be like having a Padawan,  but more analytics,  less light sabers. (for a good explanation,  see wookiepedia…seriously.  Yeah I couldn’t make that up if I tried)

When your protégé passes you on the ladder to success,  it is such a proud moment. 

I hope she gives back as well. 
I have only had a few protégé’s since I graduated from student to teacher,  so to speak,  and I hope they all experience the same levels of success.

Analytics drives business,  but relationships bring it home.

-That Planning Guy