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Get Your Shovel Ready, Mama; We Are Ready To Start Digging

By Art van Bodegraven | 09/20/2017 | 11:29 AM

Please enjoy the thoughts and musings of our friend, supporter, and long-time contributor Art van Bodegraven Jr., who passed away on June 18, 2017. Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future. To honor his memory, we will continue to post these remaining blogs as he had intended. If you’ve been a fan of The Art of Art blog, check out our tribute.

 

Material Handling & Logistics reported this winter that President Trumpf's team had identified some 50 projects that would eat up the $137 billion earmarked for infrastructure projects.  So far, the usual suspects are working drafts awaiting input from the National Governors Association.

Criteria include: national security or public safety "emergency"; potential for increased US manufacturing; direct job creation; and "shovel ready" with  30% of initial design and engineering complete.

Of course, the Governors will have strong political input, rewarding the faithful, and punishing the left and other failures.  Never mind where the projects might fall in a spectrum of prioritized logistics and suply chain needs.

Some projects cross state lines, most are quite specific, such as: bridges (Gordie Howe, Lake Pontchartrain), Union Station redevelopment, Port Mojave Solar, Savannah Harbor enlargement - a potpourri of unrelated and un-coordinated efforts.

Please excuse my cynicism, but the list looks very much like the same-old, same-old, only with a much bigger pork barrel.  

Line up at the trough fellers; the slops have just been poured out.  

Looks like yesterday's slops, with yesterday's lack of order and rationale, and congratulations to Congresspersons' constituents. Welcome to the drained swamp . . .

Out, Damned Spot!

By Art van Bodegraven | 09/17/2017 | 8:21 AM

Please enjoy the thoughts and musings of our friend, supporter, and long-time contributor Art van Bodegraven Jr., who passed away on June 18, 2017. Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future. To honor his memory, we will continue to post these remaining blogs as he had intended. If you’ve been a fan of The Art of Art blog, check out our tribute.

 

Thus cried out Lady Macbeth, distraught over the spilling of Duncan's blood at her urging.  In this case, the blood is not Duncan's, but mine - but I still want the damned spot to be gone.

OK, I'm not the only person in the room who's had cancer.  The difference might be that mine was overwhelmingly deadly, with a mortality rate of maybe 5% after five years.  Pancreatic cancer has  the worst survivival rate among the high-incidence cancers - 5% vs. #5.  Not heartening.

But, as noted in the past, my genius surgeon effected a purely surgical cure, completely removing the offending intruder.  Good news, for openers, made better by not requiring chemotherapy or radiation for further repair.  Lots of meds, for sure, but better than any of several alternatives.

There are a few obvious life-long effects, in diet and daily living; they, too, are way preferable to not being treated.

One set of complications is that medicine is still figuring out the longer-term impacts of the surgical (Whipple procedure) cure.  They are not trivial, and each event triggers a round of investigative testing.  So, the kidneys are in sad shape, the liver is suspect, the esophagus requires a medical Roto-Rooter from time to time, blood chemistry is out of whack and the ol' brain-pan misfires regularly.

Outside of that, I'm doing spectacularly well, but ordinaries such as driving, traveling, teaching, project management, and making rational decisions are off the table for now.

But, once again, the alternative . . .

One of my several doctors has casually noted that Whipple survivors typically don't live long enough to experience longer-term effects.  For better or worse, I have.

But, once again, the alternative . . .

Impaired Thinking

By Art van Bodegraven | 09/15/2017 | 12:15 PM

Please enjoy the thoughts and musings of our friend, supporter, and long-time contributor Art van Bodegraven Jr., who passed away on June 18, 2017. Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future. To honor his memory, we will continue to post these remaining blogs as he had intended. If you’ve been a fan of The Art of Art blog, check out our tribute.

 

I'm trying to avoid the word "crippled" in thinking about those who are hesitant to hire those differently-abled than the majority. But, it's perfectly descriptive. The crippling is not the afflicted, but the mental mindset of those reluctant to tap into this huge talent respource.  

Much has been made of Walgreens South Carolina facility, and ita ground-breaking advances in hiring people with physical or emotional challenges. Using the developmentally disabled as low cost labor in the performance of menial tasks is fundamentally flawed.

Relegating the "slow" to bagging at Kroger is an affront to the individuals, and passing up a teaching moment for the customers.

Compounding the challenge are those who are "uncomfortable" with the "retarded," indicating a certain weakness and fear among the uninformed (at best) and the possibility of rank prejudice and mean-ness of spirit (at worst).

The workers deserve more and better, and the customers merit re-education—and a sharp blow to the chops.

Go thou, and be a beacon for the right thing.

An ROI For Supply Chain Education

By Art van Bodegraven | 09/13/2017 | 2:27 PM

Please enjoy the thoughts and musings of our friend, supporter, and long-time contributor Art van Bodegraven Jr., who passed away on June 18, 2017. Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future. To honor his memory, we will continue to post these remaining blogs as he had intended. If you’ve been a fan of The Art of Art blog, check out our tribute.

 

So, what's the value of SCM education?  Can it be measured?  Is it a myth?  Let's dig a little deeper.

Much of the current attention is focused on Executive Education.  But, frankly, our greatest national need is for broad operational and planning at working associate levels.  Teaching high concepts to managers and wanna-be leaders seems to me to miss the mark, by several miles.

To be direct, the stalwarts of well-established educational programs remain in place: Penn State, Michigan State, Ohio State.  Following their  model(s), you can't stumble across a university, community college, or branch campus without tripping over the supply chain.

Additionally, for-profit institutions are ramping up the content of certifications, so APICS and ISM garner kudos for joining the 21st century.  Notably absent from such lists is the SCPro program from CSCMP, the industry's premier learning experience.

A recent article in Supply Chain Management Review cites a number of eductional leaders: Loyola' (Chicago)'s John Caltigirone; Michigan State's Nick Little; and Penn State's Steve Tracey.  John promotes possibilities for higher salaries and advancement opportunity.  He sees SCM education as important for people from other parts of the organization, and recognizes the bias for SCM education as easier to consider than a traditional MBA, especially when a series of certifications can be offered.

Tracey is clear-eyed.  If the SCM education is valued by an employer, then it has value to the individual.  Further, real education is a must when levels of responsibility are reached; there are times when certification just doesn't cut it.

Little sees the importance of SCM showing the bigger picture of enterprise performance, particularly when SCM learnings can be applied to functional management.  There is a wagon-load of capable SCM educators out there in the thick weeds.  Ken Ackerman comes to mind, as, self-servingly, do I.

As to value, it's hard to find clear and compelling evidence of a hard dollar return on the investment in time and effort involved.  The literature is full of platitudes about: hone skills; develop acumen; understand SCM; job prospects; advancement opportunities; increased status; and - yes - even make more money - maybe.  Pretty soft stuff, with a a bucket full of cotton candy.  

But, all education is a good thing, and SCM is the wave of the future, imho.  The payback is up to you.

Do Patent Leather Shoes Reflect Up?

By Art van Bodegraven | 09/10/2017 | 2:00 PM

Please enjoy the thoughts and musings of our friend, supporter, and long-time contributor Art van Bodegraven Jr., who passed away on June 18, 2017. Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future. To honor his memory, we will continue to post these remaining blogs as he had intended. If you’ve been a fan of The Art of Art blog, check out our tribute.

 

It'll take more than parochial school to answer this poser, won't it?  Meanwhile, patents do dominate the supply chain news these days.  Amazon,already has some 45,000 or 50,000 robots that command the goods-to-picker space, thanks to the acquisition of Kiva.

Now, Amazon, has patented a case picking robot that will take untold thousands out of their workforce.  Not bad for a people-dependent enterprise.

This from an innovator that is making the blimp and its dispersed inventory all its own.

Who else is disrupting supply chain operations?  Look, we've got a handful of inventors and backyard mechanics who are puttering around the fringes.  But, transforming SCM fundamentallly and on a regular basis appears to be the purview of a mega-organization that is devoted - devoutly - to changing the game, one that rewards innovation and industry dominance.

The equation is not likely to change - and that's good for me, for you, for all of us, but maybe not so much for Amazon's competitors

Failure Is Always An Option - Sometimes The Better One

By Art van Bodegraven | 09/08/2017 | 11:29 AM

Please enjoy the thoughts and musings of our friend, supporter, and long-time contributor Art van Bodegraven Jr., who passed away on June 18, 2017. Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future. To honor his memory, we will continue to post these remaining blogs as he had intended. If you’ve been a fan of The Art of Art blog, check out our tribute.

 

Forceful individuals who have a strong last-century leadership style are fond of (de)motivating their teams with the ezhortation, "Failure is not an option!".  Here's another tidbit of late-breaking news: If you have no failures, it means you're not trying hard enough.

That's right, not every idea or objective is going to work out, almost certainly not as planned.  Unless, yuo're one of those petrified with fear of the unknown, and too weak to get beyond the self-defineWhat's next, where we are, and how we think and look are yet to be determined. But, ourd boundaries of your personsl comfort zone.  Or, if your enterprise's culture penalizes and punishes those who occasionally color outside the lines.

From Microsoft and others, and as reported in the Harvard Business Review, we learn that the only genuine failure is an experience we fail to learn from - even those that have gone all peWhat's next, where we are, and how we think and look are yet to be determined. But, ourar-shapeWhat's next, where we are, and how we think and look are yet to be determined. But, ourd, despite our fondest hopes.

So, what are leaders doing?  Keep in mind that the core message is not limited to the tech sector, or to the People's Republic of Seattle; it is useful for all who would excel, all who would make their competitors sweat bullets.

The prerequisites are few, but powerful.

The enterprise must be radically re-aligned.  The passe Industrial Age love affair with report cards must be jettisoned.  No tracking, reporting, and posting wins and losses, successes and failures (however defined), savings targets made and missed, and/or ROI - all by team or individual.

Risk-taking must be encouraged and reciognized - win or lose, with strong coaching to align associates with that culture.

The entire enterprise and its people must embrace growth and whatever it takes to achieve - which equates to learning to love and seek out constant change.

This, then, must translate to the innovation that emerges from a free and empowered and valued workforce.  More coaching opportunities, for sure.

Dream the impossible; tackle the unstoppable; face up to the worst bottleneck; woo the toughest customer.  In our world, we often can eclipse the competition and lap the field with the mantra, "Go big or go home!".

Live in a universe that treasures what was learned from disappointment.  Not who is at fault, what went wrong, who and what will be corrected by whatever means necessary.  But, what was learned, what can be done differently, how processes need adjustment, what training or technology would help next time out, or what prerequisites should be in place.  No one really responds susteainably from a Jimmy Cagney inquisitory attack, wanting to know ,"Who did it"?.  The enterprise equivalent of The Caine Mutiny is not a pretty sight, nor a pivotal event in positive turnaround.

It's about learning that changes the future will benefit from; it's not about telling war stories that pick at the scab of perceived failure.

All these contribute to building a community of learning leadership. 

So, wher do you want to work?  Here?  Or in the galley of a Viking longboat?

He Benz, But Can He Brake?

By Art van Bodegraven | 09/06/2017 | 2:12 PM

Please enjoy the thoughts and musings of our friend, supporter, and long-time contributor Art van Bodegraven Jr., who passed away on June 18, 2017. Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future. To honor his memory, we will continue to post these remaining blogs as he had intended. If you’ve been a fan of The Art of Art blog, check out our tribute.

 

Jingoists, all, we ascribe the automobile to American icons, and "everybody" knows the hallowed names of Henry Ford, Ransome E. Olds (REO), Elwood Haynes, the pride of Kokomo (Indiana, not the beach) Stanley of Steamer notoriety, Pierce, whose Arrow was iconic in its own right, and handsfull of lesser luminaries, including the Appersons, 

But, the origins of the motorcar antedated the fabled assembly line, as well as great names such as Duesenberg, Alexander Winton, John Willys, Preston Tucker, William Durant, the Duryea Brothers, David Buick, Jonathan Maxwell, the Briscoes, Vincent Bendix, Frederic Fisher, James Packard, John Studebaker, Stutz, Marmon, Charles Nash, Walter P. Chrysler, the Dodge Brothers, et al.

In fact, 1886 saw the issue of a patent to Karl Friedrich Benz for a moving vehicle, a three-wheeled four-cycle oundation for an empire.  But Karl was not an ace businessman, and it took his wife's dowry to save the fledgling corporation.  Once.  But, when Benz failed to change with the times, and clung to an outdated vision for Benz & Cie, Bertha had no more bail-out money.

And, thus she died at 95, Karl predeceasing her by some ten years, after a stultifying stint on the Benz Supervisory Board.  Nevertheless, Benz' and his magical patent transformed the work of shade-tree mechanics into complex machinery that altered lifestyles all over the planet.  

It took a few decades for the assembly line to re-imagine how the machines were to be efficiently manufactured.  And, even then, the pioneering work was done by Ransom Olds, and not the fabulously successful Henry Ford.

Knights In White Satin, Or, Where Did All These Drivers Come From?

By Art van Bodegraven | 09/03/2017 | 11:45 AM

Please enjoy the thoughts and musings of our friend, supporter, and long-time contributor Art van Bodegraven Jr., who passed away on June 18, 2017. Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future. To honor his memory, we will continue to post these remaining blogs as he had intended. If you’ve been a fan of The Art of Art blog, check out our tribute.

 

We spend entirely too much time wringing our hands over the cataclysmic driver shortage, which affects OTR, LTL, parcel delivery, and other drivers.  Many long-time observers run a gamut from apoplectic to apocalyptic, depending on day of the week or the side effects of a surplus of burritos.

Maybe, just maybe, we are, and have been watching the wrong ball.  Maybe driver retention will only make a tough situation worse, down the road.  Maybe ceding loads to rail carriers is not the long-term solution.  And, maybe the pursuit and promotion of intermodal solutions is not where we should be looking.

Hey, immense and powerful forces are now at work, and will only increase, as time and technology flower more fully.  They are, in sum, of profound impact on the underlying need for people who can drive trucks.

First, the intermodal trend is not likely to fade quietly away in the near future.  Second, a host of technology-driven tactics and techniques are being employed to make truck movement both more effective and less-driver-intense, including autonomous vehicles, trailer "trains", and other groupings of capacity - all reducing the need for traditional drivers.

High-tech autos, whether Teslas, Google cars, or Fords, will be more capable of safely and effectively sharing highways with trucks, as they extend today's technology into a more fully-featured solution and capability set.

Uber and Lyfft may provide driverless rides, reducing the manufacturing capacity needs in the auto industry.  But, they will likely be able to deliver parcels as well as people as they mature.

And, drones will have a staggering impact, once regulators are more satisfied, on alternative delivery mechanisms.

It's possible, btw, that the OTR driver will become a relic of ancient times, with local drivers needed only to get trailers to end-destinations.

However the scenarios play out, we are looking at another traditional source of well-paying employment drying up.  The seismic shift in job content and required skills training is frightening to contemplate when added to other new-technology-related losses of jobs that used to be.

Teaching Height

By Art van Bodegraven | 09/01/2017 | 11:28 AM

Please enjoy the thoughts and musings of our friend, supporter, and long-time contributor Art van Bodegraven Jr., who passed away on June 18, 2017. Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future. To honor his memory, we will continue to post these remaining blogs as he had intended. If you’ve been a fan of The Art of Art blog, check out our tribute.

 

The NCAA March Madness hysteria is getting smaller in our rear-view mirror, but the new season (1917-1918) is only a couple of months away.  And, this is the time of year when hopeful coaches remind us, "You can;'t teach height!".

This usually turns out to mean that a team has a really tall player who would be faster if he did not stand with one foot planted on his other.  If every 7'2" DNA outlier were really all that exciting, he would be the second coming of Kareem Abdul Jabbar (Lew Alcindor for those of another generation).  I think of the recruit at the Ohio State University who is described as "lumbering", for example, and the hopes that he can keep the excess 55 pounds off while he works on skills..

Fact is that height is not, in itself, the driver of high performance and dominant excellence.  Not since the Beanstalk was in middle school, anyway.  Nearly all of these genetic giants must learn how to play the game,  So, what can, and must, be taught is how to leverage height in the context of movement, position, tactics in pre-planned set plays and defense,

A critical factor in game performance cannot be measured with tapes and meters, but might be observed.  It is heart.  Desire.  Intensity. Understanding of the game.  Of course, heart without talent has its limitations, but talent without heart is, in Lean terms, another to add to the list of 8 Wastes.

Height without the heart is not a plus; it is, all to often an impediment, baffling those entranced by the possibility, however remote, of a flat-footed two-handed jam.

In our workaday supply chain management world, we often see (or hear) the equivalent of the supernaturally tall, the supernaturally smartest person in the room.  Hmmm . . .

Well, you can't teach smart.  But, you can gtach how to leverage intelligence for better analysis, improved communications, elevated decision-making, and a more appreciative perception by colleagues.

Smart without the context and focus of how to use knowledge for on-point insights is not a plus; it is, all too often, an impediment, tolerated by a vain hope that the repeal and replacement of Einstein's. Theory of Relativity will spring forth without warning.

Weigh these realities the next time you are becoming mesmerized by what appears to be a superior intellect, looking for a job after averaging 9 months on each of his or her last five positions.

There's a big difference between mensch and MENSA.  Just sayin' . . .

It's Kick-Off Time! Rejoice, Ye Faithful!

By Art van Bodegraven | 08/30/2017 | 3:35 PM

Please enjoy the thoughts and musings of our friend, supporter, and long-time contributor Art van Bodegraven Jr., who passed away on June 18, 2017. Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future. To honor his memory, we will continue to post these remaining blogs as he had intended. If you’ve been a fan of The Art of Art blog, check out our tribute.

 

I understand the siren call that lures unwary sailors into dives that make tattoo parlors look like spiritual retreats.  ESPN, with pockets full of cash, is easily able to seduce the San Diego State Aztecs into a den of swirling cigarette smoke and cheap cologne.

Boise State and the like will sacrifice much to gain visibility - and a hefty check to salve their consciences.  In short, that's how TV schedules get populated and we have the amusements of college football on odd nights of the week.

Here's the bottom line.  The classic fall football season begins on the first Saturday of September, often after Labor Day.  Exceptions in recent years might feature the mighty Toledo Rockets (not to be confused with the Central Michigan Rockettes).

But, this year, and not for the first time, the Buckeyes of The Ohio State University will be opening up new game plans on August 31, with hopes for a public flogging of Indiana University.  I, to be blunt, don't get it.  It's not like the university is feeding street people, and needs the money.  And, it's certainly not to raise flagging visibility.'

Is this simply supply and demand?  And, is there a check big enough to justify upsetting the traditions of over a century?  Or, is it naked greed, getting what you can just because it's there for the taking?

Full disclosure.  I'm a fan. A borderline rabid fan.  College football is a perfectly lovely game, and each year I'm persuaded that TOSU will be playing for the National Championship.  But, I'm embarrassed about selling out for some paltry compensation in order to please the gods of Bristol, CT, for whom Disney is seen as a "class" act.

btw, the traditional end of the season has been the weekend  before Thanksgiving.  Now,things wind  up two days past the feasting.  That's a little easier to take, with the holiday shot anyway.  And, a couple of long-time rivalries have been played after Thanksgiving, as it is.

So, relax and enjoy.  The games beat CSI reruns handily, even if they are damaged goods, diluted by cash and announcers from the "B" Team.

In our workaday world, you gain not much by getting into the game too early, but could fall behind if too late.  You want the temps to reach proficiency coincidentally with the big event(s) - Christmas, Hallowe'en, Valentine's Day, whatever.  The mark of really good teams is reaching a peak of performance to align with volume challenges.  And, being too early, just hangin' until the real work arrives is boith costly and creates miserable work attitudes.

In short, you want to make that check from ESPN really count for optimal impact.

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven (1939 - 2017) was Managing Principal of the van Bodegraven Associates consultancy and Founding Principal of Discovery Executive Services, which develops and delivers supply chain educational programs. He was formerly Chair of the Supply Chain Group AG, Partner at The Progress Group LLC, Development Executive at CSCMP, Practice Leader with S4 Consulting, and a Managing Director in Coopers & Lybrand's consulting practice. Concentrating in supply chain management and logistics for over 20 years in his 50+ year business career, he has led ground-breaking strategic, operational, and educational projects for leading US and global clients. Art was principal co-author of DC Velocity's Basic Training monthly column for a decade, and was the principal co-author, with Ken Ackerman, of Fundamentals of Supply Chain Management, the definitive primer in the field. His popular blog, The Art of Art, has been a staple of DC Velocity's web site since its inception.



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