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August 6, 2021 | 3 Mins Read

The Service Stumbles of Willy Wonka

August 6, 2021 | 3 Mins Read

The Service Stumbles of Willy Wonka


By Tom Paquin

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the 1971 classic film based on the children’s book by Roald Dahl, is still one of my favorite movies, boat scene and all. Gene Wilder’s ability to vacillate his performance between loving and deranged in a single moment is truly inspired. When it comes to how he manages his factory, though, he certainly trends towards the deranged.

Yes, on its face, having the entire world frantic with excitement over the opportunity to go visit a factory is a bizarre premise upon which to build an entire story, but think of the service implications! I certainly have, and let’s just say it: Willy Wonka is not managing his service opportunities effectively.

According to a strange tinker, elaborated upon by Grandpa Joe (who seems to implicate himself in the process) Wonka closed out the outside world from his factory’s comings and goings due to corporate espionage. This, in turn, created a closed system, which was run by Wonka’s subhuman labor indentured force known as the Oompa Loompas.

Some businesses have no trouble handling a closed system. Apple is the obvious example, as they own the product, diagnostics, and depots for their devices. But even big bad Apple can’t do that all in a closed system without the proper oversight. That oversight comes from smart, forward-thinking technologies that are not just reflective on the specific industries in which they are found, but are proven through a strong network of references and use cases. Here are a couple of technologies that really could have improved

Capacity Planning

In the film, Wonka announces his Golden Ticket giveaway of a trip to the factory and a lifetime supply of chocolate (It’s not specified whether the lifetime supply is delivered annually or in a lump sum). This creates an immediate strain on the supply chain, leading to shortages so severe that Queen Elizabeth herself is forced to bid on what is apparently the last box of Wonka bars in the United Kingdom.

While these issues make for entertaining scenes, they could easily have been mitigated if Wonka had taken the time to run scenario forecasting. With such a tool, the factory could have routed supply chains appropriately, make the necessary arrangements, and avoided a lot of headaches.

Depot Repair

I’m sure Oompa Loompas are great for rolling around giant mushrooms in your candy terrarium, but do they know how to replace the parts of your meat-and-potatoes chocolate manufacturing equipment, as featured in the (still incredible) opening credits? Surely, building a system that routes parts, materials, and assets through external systems, even if they’re owned internally, would be necessary to avoid bottlenecks like a complete UK chocolate shortage.


Fun fact: Quaker Oats financed Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as an excuse to produce and sell their own Wonka bars. The bars shipped to stores about a month before the film’s release, but they were taken off store shelves because they melted at room temperature. So, the movie was released, but there was no tie-in chocolate bar.

Sure, it was the early 70s, and computers were the size of a Buick at the time, but smart logistics planning in real life could have gotten them back on track. Heck, that same logistics management could have allowed Wonka to distribute the golden tickets equitably, and over the course of a prolonged period of time, in order to ensure maximum sales. This is why simple factory service management is great, but truly next-level service management ties all the areas of your business together seamlessly.