Logistics Epic Fail

I would like to share a logistics horror story that is the epitome of a project planning epic fail.  I will call this company Kitchen Sink for the time being. So Kitchen Sink is a reputable company with an annual revenue of seven hundred million,  and employs over 45,000 people. At the beginning of Q1 of 2014, they decided to consolidate their Rancho Cucamonga CA and Atlanta GA distribution facilities. The goal was to have all freight routed out of Atlanta GA by the beginning of Q3. A task force of high-level managers was put together to implement the project.  On July 1, the project was right on schedule.  The entire inventory from the Rancho Cucamonga facility was loaded onto 90 trailers to arrive in Atlanta a weeks time. Seeing that their work was done the project manager proceeded to close down the California warehouse and layoff 30 employees. Anticipating that the project would continue to move smoothly, the logistics team placed orders for six cargo barges from India to also deliver freight in Atlanta by mid-July.

The problem was that although the Atlanta facility was enormous, the project manager did not anticipate how much space would be needed for all of the incoming freight. In short, Kitchen Sink’s Atlanta distribution center had to reject all  90 trailers and send them back to Rancho Cucamonga because there was not enough room for all of the cargo.  Since everyone had already been laid off in the California distribution center there was no one to unload the rejected containers. So the containers sat fully loaded in the yard. Also the six cargo barges could not be unloaded either.  They too sat fully loaded and waiting on the docks. In the meantime, there was a port strike. No containers could be unloaded until the Longshoremen came to an agreement about wages and benefits. At $60,000 a day for the cargo barges and $9000 a day for the sitting trailers, this was a very costly oversight by the project manager.

I believe that this problem happened because the decision to consolidate the warehouses was made from top-level managers without seeking the input of other crucial parties involved. They were so concerned with making the deadline that they did not do a proper risk management assessment.  The strike on July 18th was public knowledge weeks ahead of time and the project manager should have mitigated this possibility. Also the warehouse staff in Rancho Cucamonga was prematurely let go without consideration that they may be needed to further help with the transition.

What could have prevented the project manager from not knowing that there would not have been enough space for the warehouse consolidation? Could this have been prevented if the project manager had made an effort to work with the lower level warehouse employees in Atlanta?

What makes a successful Kickstarter project proposal?

Kickstarter.com is a website to fund creative, community based projects that might not otherwise receive funding. Individuals and businesses set a financial goal needed to fulfill the proposed idea. The project proposal is then made public for visitors to view and offer donation amounts. If the proposed goal is met, the backers are charged the amount they initially promised. If the project donation goal is not met within the expiration period, no one is charged and the project goes unfunded. Projects on Kickstarter range from food related, to art, to dance, to performance, to technology. The website advertises that nearly half of the projects submitted become fully funded. Considering this success rate, I began an analysis on what made certain project proposals more successful at reaching their funding targets than others.

Not only do the projects range in category, they also range in geographic region and scope. For example, Reading Rainbow, a successful television show aimed at inspiring young children to read was discontinued in 2006. The project proposal has the original face of Reading Rainbow, LeVar Burton sharing his goal to provide the once popular program for free in schools.  So far the Kickstarter profile has raised $4.4 million with an initial goal of $1 million. I also reviewed a company called Ninja shoes, which raised $117,438 with an initial goal of $15,000. In the proposal video, Ninja shoe creators have designed a more efficient slip-on shoe made from microfiber.


Another successfully funded Kickstarter project is “Augie and the Green Knight” a children’s book, which raised $311,445 with an initial goal of $30,000. Their project proposal includes ‘stretch goals’. This section offers a breakdown of how each donation milestone will be used to improve the book, such as offering more illustrations and wider distribution.

Augie and the Green Knight

Common traits of successful Kickstarter.com project proposals:

  1. Polished face to face videos with the creators of the projects
  2. The projects are very close to completion, if not already complete
  3. The viewer is able to see the behind the scenes design and development of the project
  4. It is clearly outlined how the funds would help the projects
  5. There is a unique idea or concept that people could care about

In what additional ways can Kickstarter project proposals initiate more interest to raise funds?

In your opinion, is Kickstarter truly an effective way to raise funds for projects?

What sort of accountability do individuals have to their backers to complete the project as originally intended?