I attended this always valuable event along with several hundred supply chain practitioners. There were many interesting presentations throughout the day. Here are some comments that resonated for me:
Gene Tyndall was the key-note speaker in the morning session. His comment that “metrics matter, but that the right ones matter more” seemed very appropriate in this age of too much information. Gene also emphasized the importance of free cash flow as a C-level metric that has become a must- do for us in supply chain management.
Gene also suggested that universities are producing graduates who can think – but not do. Full disclosure – I attended as a faculty representative of the Illinois Institute of Technology, so I have a definite interest in this subject. I will say that we believe that the Industrial Technology and Management program at IIT produces doers, this is something that we work hard to achieve. I am proud to say that 4 of our students presented a summary of their research projects during an afternoon break out session.
Nick LaHowchic spoke about the importance of “de-coupling” a company’s strategy and then asking how each element affects supply chain strategy. Another interesting suggestion that Nick made was that every supply chain manager should take the time to train people on how to review and analyze a company’s annual report and/or 10-K. He is a real believer in the importance of relating supply chain activity to the financial aspects of a company’s performance.
Lora Cecere gave a very interesting presentation that was a reality check for the audience based on some detailed analysis of supply chain performance across several industries. Lora stated that the Consumer Packaged Goods industry is creating too many products resulting in poorer than desired supply chain performance. She suggested expanding our view of the supply chain from the customer’s customer back to the supplier’s supplier.
All three of the morning presenters – Gene, Nick, and Lora mentioned their concern that supply chain activity and potential is not well understood by c-level executive and Board members. They challenged the audience to change that situation in our own organizations.
Thanks to Rodney Goulet and his team for a very productive Spring Seminar.