Six of the Best

The 99% Invisible podcast isn’t about the supply chain; it’s about design, in all its many forms… but it’s surprising how often something relevant to my interests crops up. (And even when it’s not related to the day job, this series of podcasts is a delight to listen to.) Here’s a shortlist of some particularly good 99% Invisible podcasts that contain something of interest to a person studying supply chain management… although I’d recommend popping over to iTunes and getting every episode. It’s a great bit of intelligent listening, guaranteed to make your commute seem a little less onerous!

Episode 55: The Best Beer in the World – a bold claim, and worth investigating at any time… but this episode is interesting because the brewer doesn’t seem to obey the law of supply and demand as we know it, and operates a curious kind of anti-marketing.

Episode 124: Longbox – packaging is always a supply chain topic worthy of investigation, I find… but the packaging for REM’s 1991 album ‘Out of Time’ may actually have changed the political landscape of the USA forever. Strange but true. Also, the episode provides an interesting picture of music retail in transition, from LPs to compact disc.

REM Out of Time - longbox

Do you remember when CDs had an extra layer of packaging; the ‘Longbox’?

Episode 64: Derelict Dome – providing an introduction to the work of R. Buckminster Fuller, an early advocate of sustainability. It’s not just about his fascination with geodesic domes, but his motivations.

Episode 30: The Blue Yarn – explaining how the Toyota Production System came to be employed not in manufacturing, but in the redesign of a hospital management system. A piece of yarn was used to map the path that a cancer patient would take on a typical visit for treatment, with surprising results.

Episode 70: The Great Red Car Conspiracy – because everyone likes a good conspiracy story, don’t they? Whatever happened to the Red Car, Los Angeles’ mass transit system that once had 1,100 miles of track? Well, it turns out there was a conspiracy… just not the one you’ve probably heard about.

Pacific Electric ‘Red Cars’ in the scrapyard

Who scrapped the Red Car, and why?

Episode 108: Barcodes – narrowly edging out the episode on Cow Tunnels, which was also good, but I felt I ought to acknowledge one of my sources. When I decided to start this blog to commemorate the 40th birthday of the barcode, much of what I knew about them (barcodes, that is, not cows) had come from listening to this podcast.

Happy listening.


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