Believe and say what you want about mercurial and serial entrepreneur Elon Musk but a major comment he made late last year should pique the interest of open-minded healthcare supply chain leaders and professionals.
No, the decision doesn’t involve Musk being Twitter-mated by the social media company, which he finally closed on at press time for a mere $44 billion after months of back-and-forth wrangling with company executives.
If you remember, Musk attracted scores of media attention by signing a deal to buy Twitter but then backed away when he found flies in the ointment. He questioned the reliability and validity of participation numbers, claiming that those numbers may have been artificially inflated by spambots and fake accounts. Social media sites use “clicks” and “visits” as justification for advertising rates charged to companies that want access to consumer eyeballs first and cash-filled wallets next.
A seasoned healthcare supply chain pro never would have signed on any dotted line – whether a letter of intent or an actual contract – without thoroughly looking under the hood and spotting the questionable data elements. After all, seasoned supply chain pros know the importance of accurate and reliable data and how valuable it is to an enterprise.
Last fall, the Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme threw down a verbal gauntlet against some of the world’s wealthiest individuals, an auspicious list that includes Musk.
To combat world hunger, the U.N. agency leader crowed that on a “one-time basis” billionaires should donate “$6 billion to help 42 million people that are literally going to die if we don’t reach them. It’s not complicated.”
On the surface, throwing lots of money at a challenge or problem – if you have enough of it to spare and are willing to share – isn’t complicated. Neither is the social justice-motivated chutzpah and hubris of this … ahem … request. Some might mutter the indignantly elitist response, “Well! I never …” or “Of all the nerve!”
But pish-tosh! Musk’s bourgeois yet proletarian response was near pitch perfect and worthy of an expense management expert’s “atta boy” pat on the back.
Musk, who now owns Twitter as well as The Boring Co., Space X and Tesla, responded in a Tweet: “IF WFP can describe on this Twitter thread exactly how $6B will solve world hunger, I will sell Tesla stock right now and do it. But it must be open-source accounting, so the public sees precisely how the money is spent.”
This is your cue to place your palms together in front of your face, strum your fingers against one another and laugh maniacally like Batman’s arch-nemesis the Joker.
The Associated Press reported that “in 2020, the agency received $8.4 billion in donations, which it says was $5.3 billion short of its requirements.”
The U.N. agency executive then tap danced in his reply to Musk on Twitter, offered to meet with him to discuss the issue further and admitted that $6 billion will not solve world hunger, “but it WILL prevent geopolitical instability, mass migration and save 42 million people on the brink of starvation. An unprecedented crisis and a perfect storm due to Covid/conflict/climate crises.”
Like a bulldog, Musk then replied, “Please publish your current & proposed spending in detail so people can see exactly where money goes. Sunlight is a wonderful thing.”
Healthcare supply chain pros undoubtedly should cackle at this “tweetversation.” What Musk refers to as sunlight merely represents a metaphor for transparency.
Imagine healthcare supply chain pros using similar logic to push back against product price and service fee increases or “savings” generated in risk-sharing agreements that are split with clinicians. If you’re looking to change employers rapidly you also might use this tactic when the CEO or CFO demands that Supply Chain cut 25% from its budget for the fiscal year … ending in four months.
Supply chain, whether business, government or charity, remains a demanding numbers game, whether crisis-entrenched or nominally operating. Yet, while the line between “Musking it” and risking it may be dotted, it’s important for Supply Chain not to fall through the cracks.