Procurement and Supply Chain Lessons From Weight Lifting Supplements

procurement supplememnts

I must admit I’m the accidental lifter. At almost 6 feet tall and roughly 165 pounds, I’m better suited to running moderately fast and evangelizing the virtues of a mostly vegan diet than benching or deadlifts. I don't really look the part either. And that holds whether I’m hitting the dumbbells in my apartment building’s small weight room or fighting for space against grannies and teenagers at my local gym. (Note: not a health club — there is a difference!)

But regardless of personal appearances, I’ve got a newfound hobby: weightlifting. I haven’t been able to run much the past couple of months thanks to leg injury brought on by a colleague — who will go, almost, unnamed — at Public Spend Forum, who espoused the virtues to me of ultra-high intensity interval training. (Hint: Don’t put a treadmill on a 15% grade and run at a 10-12 pace for 20 seconds unless you’ve worked up to it and really, really know what you’re doing.)

So, thanks to Ash  — who is 10 times the health nut I am — I was forced to try something new. Which, of course, is not a bad thing. But lifting weights comes with a stigma of sorts. Even if, as I’m trying it, more Cross Fit-style than Arnold, the typical gym rat doesn’t necessarily know how to wax eloquent on the merits of lean operating models or Peter Kraljic.

This is a problem, as it turns out lots of lifters are actually quite the intellectuals in their respective fields. So to counter the typical anti-intellectual convention associated with lifting — and I must say, lifters tend not to be as social as runners, who often drink more beers than the miles they put in on the trails — I thought I’d work with and interview my colleague, Richard Lee, who has been lifting since his West Point days.

Richard is old school and well versed in the quasi-legal supplements that have been around gyms since the Carter and early Reagan years, back when Mr. Universe was not something President Obama aspired to be but rather a bodybuilding title built on the back of hard work and … well, we’ll leave it at that.

One conversation with Richard got me thinking: It turns out old school weight supplements like Ultimate Orange are a lot like many of the shortcuts that procurement organizations use to “juice” their results. (See also the real insider coverage on a site whose name I can’t even make up: steroidology.) These supplements pumped up the heart rate and the muscles — and did much more as well.

So, why not take this relaxed holiday season to let down our hair and write about some of these supplements and what they were purported to do, and compare them to a number of comparative techniques that procurement and supply chain teams often use to juice their results at the expense of, well, just about everything that truly matters (e.g., longevity, health, relationships, etc.).

Of course, some supplements aren’t necessarily dangerous — they’re just plain gross. Like Uni-Liver, a liver supplement (as in “eating liver”). There’s the procurement and supply chain equivalent of that, too, I’m sure.

I’ll also invite Richard to join in the conversation and share his thoughts as well — not that he will ever admit to taking these supplements, mind you — from the voice of experience. We’ll start with Ultimate Orange — the original formula, not the reissued wussy version — this week.

In the meantime, it’s time to get pumped up!

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