The Power of Logistics | Terry Esper | TEDxOhioStateUniversitySalon
good evening thank you so much show of hands how many of you are online shoppers almost everyone in fact i guess the better question would be how many of you are not online shoppers especially in 2019 well i've got a scenario for you so you've purchased something online and you were promised two-day delivery and sure enough within two days or less your package arrives at your home it is exactly what you purchase and it is exactly in the condition that you expected it to be in how does that make you feel it's a pretty satisfactory experience right well that feeling of satisfaction that many of us experience several times a week sometimes four to five times a week that feeling of satisfaction that's what i study as a professor here at ohio state in the fisher college of business essentially my research can be represented by this photo i study home delivery
logisticsand in particular i focus on people like her this consumer that is clearly satisfied with this delivery service my research focuses on how we can better satisfy customers through home delivery services and in fact i do a ton of research that focuses on her expectations to get a understanding of what she expects in terms of delivery services and how companies can best design their
logisticsinfrastructures in order to meet those expectations i've been interested in this topic for a very long time i started my career working for a big retail organization when we started our first online retail...
store and in fact my first opportunity with the company was to develop its first home delivery
logisticsinfrastructure so i've been involved with this for a very long time but i've got a secret to tell you about this work that i do i think it's interesting and i enjoy it but my secret to be honest with you i've struggled with connecting with the work in a really deep level here's an example i've got a friend that does research on diversity and inclusion within corporate organizations and as an african-american woman who worked in a corporate environment before she became an academic her research is an extension of who she is as an individual i've got a friend that does research on entrepreneurship and she grew up in an entrepreneurial family that had a family-owned business and she worked in that business as a child so her research on entrepreneurship is an extension of who she is as an individual i've got a friend that does research on consumers that have undergone significant body transformations and she herself has traveled an interesting journey and has lost a considerable amount of weight along that journey and so her research is an extension of who she is as an individual and for me i do research on
logisticsit's interesting but to be honest with you i really struggled with the connection to the work as it relates to it being a part of who i am as an individual well you know that all started to change for me and it started to change...
around mid-october of last year i was reading a series of articles about one of this country's great business organizations sears it was mid-october 2018 and sears had recently declared bankruptcy and so because of that there were a series of articles about sears that were dominating the business press and so i was thumbing through those articles and i uh got intrigued and essentially snatched by a few headlines that really captured my attention like this one from the washington post that talked about sears and their radical past as it relates to servicing customers during the era of jim crow which was the time in this country that was plagued by racism and discrimination or there was this headline from the new york times that talked about sears putting black customers first and making them a priority well as an african-american that captured my attention and i read more about what it was about sears that made them so groundbreaking at that time and i learned some really interesting things it was sears and their home delivery services that provided african americans in this country with a way to shop where they did not have to be subjected to racism and discrimination and that was a light bulb moment for me it was something that connected to me personally i went back to the times when i shopped with my grandmother in downtown retail stores even as a child we used to have to put on our sunday best to go to these stores because we needed to project to those retailers that...
we belonged there and that we could afford the things that they sold us but even as a child i was very aware of a difference in my grandmother i could sense that there was no joy in her during this time in fact i sensed fear but then i recalled when she would get packages delivered to her home from sears and the excitement and the joy now i used to think that she was excited because she was getting a package delivered to her home but after reading these articles i stopped i paused and i was thinking about whether or not the joy that she experienced was not because she was getting a package but because she was getting a package that allowed her to maintain her dignity well that connected to me personally and at that moment i started to feel that my connection to
logisticswas starting to unfold in a very interesting and and insightful way for me as an individual so i started to explore other things that have inspired me throughout my life that have a heavy dose of
logisticsassociated with them like this gentleman this is an artist rendering of a gentleman by the name of henry brown in fact he's more affectionately referred to as henry box brown now the interesting story about henry box brown is that he was born a slave in the state of virginia but in order to get to freedom he literally put himself in a wooden crate and shipped himself using
logisticsto freedom in 1849 he climbed into a box and shipped himself to the city of philadelphia in order to be free it took 27...
hours and seven changes in
logisticsand transportation modes so henry box brown for those of us who speak logistic vernacular he was an intermodal shipment but it was the fact that he shipped himself from slavery to freedom using
logisticsthat was a connection for me or this photo many folks see this oh that's rosa parks the mother of the civil rights movement and that's true rosa parks was the mother of the civil rights movement it was the montgomery bus boycotts that triggered the civil rights movement and the era that was essentially responsible for my ability to be here today well a lot of people know rosa parks and dr martin luther king as the heroes of the civil rights movement but there were a lot of unsung heroes for example this gentleman a gentleman by the name of rufus lewis now what's significant about mr lewis is that he was a logistician and it was his
logisticsexpertise that developed an entire
logisticsride share infrastructure in the city of montgomery that allowed african americans to have an alternative way of getting to and fro and getting access to products and services and it was that
logisticsinfrastructure that allowed them to boycott the montgomery bus system now a lot of times when we think about the montgomery bus boycotts we think a week a month the montgomery bus boycott lasted for 381 days and it was that boycott that triggered the civil rights movement but that boycott would not have been possible had it not been for the...
logisticsexpertise of someone like mr rufus lewis and well there's this example the green book many of you may have heard of the green book it was just an academy award-winning movie well you know the green book it was a reality the green book was a directory that was printed for african americans to utilize when they traveled along u.s highways it was a booklet that had a list of stores and gas stations and restaurants and lodging locations that were welcoming to african americans because not all of them were at that time i'm a product of the great migration i was born and raised in a state north directly north of ohio but my family has its roots in mississippi and tennessee so as a product of the great migration this period of time when it was suggested that somewhere between five and six million african americans migrated from the south of this country and went to the northeast the midwest and the west it was during the great migration that the green book became like a bible but what's interesting about the green book is that it was not only just a directory of companies that were welcoming to african americans but it was a
logisticsplanning document because from what i've been told african americans at that time would dare not get on the road without developing an entire plan as to where they could go where they couldn't go where they could stop and how far they could get before they needed to lodge before they needed to get gas so so these were...
logisticsplans that were developed before they would ever hit the road to go from the south to the north and these interestingly enough are all of these stories are a part of me these were things that have inspired me my entire life i am a product of these stories and as i went along this journey i realized that i no longer have to envy my friend that does research on diversity and inclusion i no longer have to envy my friend that does research on entrepreneurialism because for me
logisticsis personal it is something that has been given to me as a gift when i think of the shoulders that i have been able to stand on as a professor here at ohio state so i had a live up moment when i realized that the work that i do is not something that's just interesting to me but it's something that's a part of me because had it not been for
logisticscapabilities and skills i may not have had the opportunity to be here today but i also had to rethink about
logisticsand see it as something that's quite
powerful so when we talk about the fundamentals of
logisticswe talk about things like uh time and place utility and that
logisticsis about getting products to where they need to be so that consumers can have access to the things they need to live and that's great from a corporate perspective and that's a really really really important part of business but the reality is that
logisticscan be so much more it might actually be something that can help someone...
gain their dignity