Fable Friday: James Clavell’s “Shogun,” Ishido, Mnemonics and inventory costs!

Here’s a helpful story for all you commercial or corporate bankers out there, plus a little quiz at the end to see if you’re on top of your game.  This is tricky to follow, so bear with me.

Back in the 70’s I read all of James Clavell’s novels, beginning with Shogun in 1975, the first in his Asian series.  They were beautifully written books, filled with intrigue, adventure and passion. I couldn’t put them down.  I especially enjoyed the political tactics and rivalry between two of the shoguns, Toranaga and Ishido, and their efforts to gain advantage from the protagonist Blackthorne.  Ishido was particularly hateful and I never forgot his name.

Now fast-forward to the 80’s and I’m in graduate school taking an accounting course, with several years of commercial banking behind me. I was reading a chapter on the hidden costs of inventory, and I noticed that the book had them listed in bullet points with the first key word in bold type. There were six of them.

Because I like word games such as crossword puzzles, quizzes and acrostics, I couldn’t help but notice that the first letters of each of these key words from top to bottom spelled out the word “ISHIDO,” that memorable shogun from the novel.

“Wow,” I thought.  “This is going to be a great mnemonic to remember this list,” and I went back and reread the cost descriptions.  I assume you know what a mnemonic is, don’t you?  You use them all the time:  “Every good boy deserves fudge,” for example, lists the names of the treble clef notes. I’ll bet you know some others, like “HOMES” for the Great Lakes.

In Morton Thompson’s book “Not as a Stranger,” he recounts how medical students used mnemonics to memorize anatomical terms.  “Never lower Tillie’s pants; mother might come home” was a mnemonic to memorize the eight bones of the wrist:  navicular, lunate, triquetrum, pisiform, multangulum major, multangulum minor, capitate and hamate.  (There, I did that from memory, so they really do work!)

So here’s where you come in, if you are a commercial banker or lender.  You know that it’s critical to differentiate yourself in a positive way with your customer or prospect and one way to do that is to demonstrate how prepared and knowledgeable you are on financial subjects.

Let’s suppose you’re having a conversation about inventory. Maybe your customer has too large an investment, or turns are far slower than industry average.  Wouldn’t it be awesome to say, “Having too much inventory can be dangerous.  Many people think too much inventory means a less liquid asset, but there are actually six costs associated with inventory.  Let’s just review them, so we can see how you can save some money…” and then you tick each one of them off for your customer.

You think customers won’t be impressed?  Let me tell you that they will be, because I’ve done this and it works.

So here is your quiz.  Using the mnemonic “ISHIDO”, reply here or write to me and list the six costs associated with inventory.  I’ll give you the answers in Tuesday’s blog post.

Meanwhile, if you find this little quiz interesting, send the link to your friends and colleagues who are in the commercial area and see how they do with it. At the least it will get you to think about how dangerous it is to have too much inventory, and at the most it will help you to…

 Think Like Your Customer

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at www.actionsystemstraining.com.

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