A candid conversation with Santa Claus—the Right Jolly Old Elf himself—about how he plans, organizes and manages to deftly carry out a seemingly impossible task in just 24 hours every year.
SmartDraw: I suppose it’s only natural to start by asking whether you’re real.
Santa Claus: I suppose you could look me up in your customer database, Einstein.
SD: Fair point. I notice you don’t use the North Pole as your address.
SC: I outsourced my call center to Delhi several years ago.
SD: I assume you’re talking about India, not…
SC: A delicatessen. So, already with the fat guy jokes. How are you stocked for coal this year, Stretch?
SD: Sorry. Do you still put coal in people’s stockings? That seems so environmentally…
SC: Oh, so now you’re going to get on me about the width of my carbon footprint? Listen, Slim… I run a very efficient, environmentally friendly operation. With an on-site dentist.
SD: Tell me more about your operation. How on earth do you take in all those orders and get everything delivered worldwide in a single night?
SC: You’re up to speed on the flying reindeer and my magic finger-aside-the-nose thing, right?
SC: Good. Thank goodness that poem has answered a lot of those questions over the years. But truthfully, the delivery is the easy part because of the magic and all. The tough part is the logistics of planning, ordering, manufacturing, stocking, scheduling, managing, etc. It used to be an absolute nightmare before SmartDraw.
SD: Don’t tell me SmartDraw is the reason you’re able get all of that done.
SC: I’m not sure why you don’t want me to tell you. Have you ever done one of these marketing interviews before, Bones?
SD: Maybe you could just give me a few examples of how SmartDraw helps you get those things done.
SC: Sure. Have you ever worked with elves?
SD: Excuse me?
SC: Elves. Hard-working little folks, but they’re very impatient. And not always the sharpest knives in the tree, if you get my drift. Can’t get ‘em to read a list of instructions, but I can show ‘em a diagram and they get it. Which works fine for me, because I can make a SmartDraw diagram in the blink of an eye.
SD: With magic?
SC: With automation. Do you ever read your own marketing stuff, Skinny? I point, click, type and SmartDraw builds a perfect flowchart, org chart, Gantt chart… whatever I need. It’s easier than magic, truth be told.
SD: You use all of those diagrams here at the North Pole?
SC: Sure. We don’t have time to waste… you know what they say about time.
SD: That it’s money?
SC: Why would I care about money?
SD: You don’t need money to make all this stuff every year?
SC: Why do you think I created Bitcoin? But that’s another story. No, time is precious. So I don’t want to waste it.
SD: But how do you bring it all together… it can’t just be SmartDraw, as much as I’d like to believe.
SC: You’d better believe. Although it certainly didn’t hurt our performance a few years back when I went Lean.
SC: Oh, that’s funny because I don’t look Lean to you, eh, Pencil Neck? Maybe you’d like to see some examples. Like this Value Stream Map. Or how Kanban boards keep our inventory in check and the elves on task. Here’s another drawing, take a look at this spaghetti diagram. It helped us revamp our production floor to eliminate transit waste. How does that jingle your bells?
SD: Wow, nice! So you use SmartDraw for all of your Lean diagrams now, too?
SC: Of course!
SD: What are these brownish spots on your spaghetti diagram?
SC: Uh… oh, meatball stains. Don’t even think it, Spindly.
SD: So, anything else you use SmartDraw for?
SC: Sure. Herbie, our dentist uses your medical diagrams for training, education, and generally keeping his office running smoothly. Elves eat a lot of candy, so keeping his busy practice organized is really crucial for him.
SD: Herbie, from the Rudolph cartoon? He’s actually real?
SC: Yes. And what do you mean, cartoon? That was a documentary.
SD: It sort of looks like a cartoon.
SC: Yeah, I guess so. We’re very careful about protecting our images here. That’s why I wouldn’t let you photograph me or anything else around here for your interview.
SD: I appreciate your giving me the hat. Just in case anyone doesn’t believe I was really here.
SC: No problem, any other questions?
SD: Just one. You’ve been portrayed a lot in movies over the years. Which one would you say was the most accurate?
SC: Hmmm. I’d say Billy Bob Thornton.
SD: Bad Santa is the most accurate portrayal? Do you really want the kids to find out about that?
SC: No. I really want Angelina Jolie to find out about that.
SD: You do realize she divorced him and married Brad Pitt, don’t you?