Just in time for Veterans

Fads come and go, if they did not, they would not be fads.

Some years ago, Japanese business theories were all the rage, Kaizen continuous improvement was one. Another popular practice that shiny MBA graduates brought in to organisations was Just In Time manufacturing – imported directly from Toyota.

This involves carrying minimal stock, to reduce inventory costs. What is ordered is only what is directly needed for the continuing immediate production. As with many cost cutting measures, it was embraced enthusiastically; the MBAs were promoted, bonuses given.

And then in 2011, and also in 2016, earthquakes struck. So little was held in stock that Toyota’s whole production was suspended – despite the Toyota plant not having been directly affected by the quake. The supply chain had been hit hard, and in a manner nobody had foreseen.

Fast forward two years and another unforeseen event happens; a former Russian intelligence officer and his daughter are struck down with a highly toxic nerve agent in tranquil Salisbury.

The parallels with Just In Time manufacturing? In 2011, the Joint Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Regiment was disbanded as part of government defence spending cuts. Long ago, the army learned that Just In Time was not good enough; Just In Case is what is needed.

With the disbanding of the Joint regiment, so went with it all that concentrated expertise in thwarting something that, not long ago, was just the subject of nightmare television dramas.

Cutting cost is something that is often necessary, but the fact is that with a small standing army, the smallest in hundreds of years, so cost should be lesser anyway. We’ve seen famous cap badges disappear in amalgamations, whole levels of the “management” made redundant and capability lost. With heavy-going deployments on rotation the norm, we’ve also seen people’s appetite to stay in decreasing and advertising campaigns running into many millions hurried out, to deal with the shortfall in numbers. Veterans have been created, but not considered.

The cost cutting has presumably been to bale out different areas of government, because veterans have seen precious little of the saved money coming their way. What has been handed over, has mainly gone to large, corporation-style charities. It is this corporate thinking that brought disaster to Toyota and that may prevent veterans getting the assistance that they so badly need.

What we need to see, Veterans’ Network believes, are smaller and more results-focused organisations – based upon community interest, such as Veterans’ Network and ExForPlus  https://www.exforplus.org/being brought into play more. Less one-off charity, and more positive sustainable solution to the issues is called for. This should be a priority; making this happen as soon as possible would be just in time.

The Veterans’ Network team

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