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The Myth Of Going To The Store

By Art van Bodegraven | 01/21/2018 | 9:13 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 Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future.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.

 

Reflecting the rise of e-commerce and decline in traditional  shopping transactions, the physical state of US retail is in disarray - on a good day.

Brick and mortar stores are collapsing at alarming rates, with enormous real estate challenges.  Sears is comatose, and Macy's is dazed and confused.  The job losses are now in the thousands, and markets are in disarrray.

A billion - that's with a B - square feet will be available soon, at take a haircut rates.

Payless Shoes has gone under, as will Rue21 and its 1,000 stores, and as have hhgregg, Gordman's, and Gander Mountain.  And, as has Radio Shack for a second outing, yet another flirtation with people with more money than sense.

2017 is projected to see over 8,500 store closings.  As a point of reference, the collapse of 2008 saw only 6,200 store closings.  JCPenney is expected to add to the now-staggering total of some 10% of retail space.

Re-invention of the mall is the obvious answer, but there's a question of who's left after the shakeout.  Ity does not seem to this observer that Orange Julius is the answer, any more than Hallowe'en might be.

And, not in a mall, Ralph Lauren has closed its flagship 5th Avenue store, a luxury the brand could no longer afford.

Growth And Risk: Mutually Exclusive?

By Art van Bodegraven | 01/19/2018 | 11:57 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 Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future.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.

 

Target and other food manufacturers, acording to Bloomberg and ISM as reported in MHLNews, have reported that Parmesan cheese contained absolutely no cheese.  Additionally, the faux cheese contained a heaping dose of cellulose.  Yum, wood chips and plastique. All loaded into a jar of powdered Parmwsan that would make real cheese blush.

Risk and risk management are hot topics that command webinars and presentations until the last eyes glaze over.  We here no end of floods, famine, supplier collapse, material shortages, and war precious metals.  Supply leaders stay up at night over these, and related, issues.  So, VPs of Supply are troubled.

Not only are Supply Chain VPs on edge, the Financial VPs, CFOs are contributing to the seriousness of the problem.  Chief Purchasing Officers, some 80%, report directly to their CFOs.  And, they are under unholy pressure to grow both profits and the corporation.

Their genuine challenges, include product adulteration, unseemly food manufacturing ingredients, ethical lapses, including in automotive - all driven by CPOs, while operations management sweat the small stuff, including natural disasters.

Other CPO responsibilities include: food adulteration, auto manufacture defects, slave labor financial misfeasance, and an absence of policy.

What it takes to fix things include: policy-driven supplier performance; zero tolerance for corruption; promotion of organization diversity and inclusion; active support of environmental behaviors and environmental responsibility; and valuing and respecting human rights.

Do the right thing, bro . . .

All Aboard! Is Everyone On The Plane Yet?

By Art van Bodegraven | 01/17/2018 | 11:55 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.

 

All employees need and deserve a thorough on-boarding process.  Too often, we pigeon-hole pick/pack/ship functionaries into an on-boarding process.  Those are valuable, especially when and if maintained.  But, Executive On-boarding is also vital.

Solid executive preparation makes functional training even more valuable.  But, its elements are different, and include:

  • Position Yourself For Success Heading Into A New Job; Remember that leadership is personal; unlock personal connections with an opening message (and vision); establish your style, preferences, behaviors, values, and attitudes
  • Leverage The Fuzzy Front End Between Accepting And Starting; not saying is as important as saying; taking action is incredibly more effective than waiting to see what happens when you take control; start from the beginning, communicate with all stakeholders, jump-start action plans, begin building relationships
  • Take Control of Day One; deliberate selection of first impressions; follow-up ending impressions; don't sweat everything that happens inbetween
  • Activate Ongoing Communication; master a full range of media, employ when and where appropriate, including orally; be prepared to change as tools and techniques shift
  • Get Alignment Around A Burning Imperative; have a vision, make it a real possibiity, start selling the concept from Day One
  • Drive Operational Accountability; inspire and enable high-performing teams to do their complete best
  • Start Strengthening The Organization; identify skills, acquire talent, develop individuals and the organization; round peg, round hole; square peg square hole
  • Extend Effort Well-Beyond Your First 100 Days; Keep going.  Keep building.  Begin the process of continual evolution (to be revisited)

Greed And Creative Collaboration

By Art van Bodegraven | 01/14/2018 | 12:26 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.

 

This is a tale of two suppliers.  One appeared to consistently go the extra mile; the other fought every battle imaginable to combat cost and waste.

The saga began innocently, as so many do.  A key supplier could neither specify  how much a new one might cost, nor what the cost elements were.  However, the supplier did allow that this year's annual price increase would be in the 7-8% range.

An investigation followed, whereupon it was revealed that a competitor had stumbled into being an alternate source.  Gradually, over time, the original price  differential evaporated, and there was no longer an appreciable difference between suppliers.

A suspicion grew that both suppliers thought they had the buyer over a barrel, and were leveraging their (perceived) strengths.

Now, the hard part.  Persuading enterprise leadership that changing specs made sense.  Unfortunately, the client decision-maker suffered a last minute challenge.  What he thought was a fly was, sad but true, actually a bee.  And it stung him. In a place where no one wants - ever - to be stung.

So, the stuffing came out of that turkey - really fast.  When the source of the bee became known, the company became the de facto leader in going the extra mile - especially with the extra cost and effort involved, and a requirement that an employee must issue a written request to release medical (personal, private) records.

Meanwhile, the competition was caught in the torment of Stations of the Cross as it battled cost demons that were not really real.  And, our intrepid purchasor's reputation as a "git 'er done" kind of guy spread throughout other contracts and commodities.

Word is: word of mouth is better than no word at all.

Last One Leaving, Please Turn Out The Lights . . .

By Art van Bodegraven | 01/12/2018 | 11:47 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 March of the Robots is turning into a stampede.  Mall stores are shuttering at a record pace.  More middle-class pople are out of work, possibly terminally. Dave Blanchard in Material Handling & Logistics asks if robots are her to help humans, or take away their more mundane jobs.

MIT's (and BU's) scholars have discovered that wherever robots are deployed in visible totals (and roles), wages tend to go down.  And, employment to population ratios  get cut in half.  Today's leader needs to have his or her communications ratios in order; the next question is most likely to be along the lines of: "Is my present job going to get automated out of existence"?

The ultimate automated warehouse/DC solution is one in which humans can be removed from the tedia of inventories, order picking, and material transport.

Elon Musk's reassurances that jobs will be better, and better paid, than ever before ring hollow, given the evidence.

Meanwhile, Marble, a co-branded robot, has quietly been making a stir.  It now partners with Yelp for automated food delivery.  Marble has been far from the epicenter of robotic delivery, with a European counterpart that has been ahead of the game.  Domino's is offering pizza, and Zume Pizza applies and spreads the sauce, while another drone slides the pie into the oven.  Marble's founders sharev a vision of improving life for all of its urban neighborhoods.  Yeah, right.

And, we're now at the place at which the first generation of robots needs automation education, creating a first-generation of automated robotics operators.

So long, carpenters and jointers.  Adieu, auf wiedersehen electricians.

News flash!  Training former drivers to replicate driving tasks simply postpones the inevitable.

Agents 86 And 99 Strike Back At KAOS And Get Smart

By Art van Bodegraven | 01/05/2018 | 11:38 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.

 

Unlikely as it seems, Don Adams and Barabara Feldon (Agents 86 & 99) are taking their revenge, foiling the best efforts by K.A.O.S. to trip them up.  The secret lies in (pun intended) getting smart in the procurement sector.

Many, even most, organizations struggle with procurement.  It's no big problem to make tactical purchases, which can save an easy 2 or 3 % of total spend.  Getting at the hard part, realizing the 8-12% that is found in world-class operations is tougher.

A multi-talented procurement team can provide great insight, business intelligence, and leverage. But, in a siloed organization, bits and pieces of savings are seldom bundled, and overcoming organizational dysfunction takes time, basic intelligence, and powers of persuasion.

The real secret is in the creation of collaborative partnerships, in which responsibility for target accomplishment is shared among business units.  The intelligence that emerges is powerful, especially when it identifies sub-par procurement.

It's also uswful in making sure that claimed savings really happen - and stick.  It's that bits and pieces thing again, in which aggregate results never show up in the financials.

At day's end, the game is about, not savings, but about investment.  Here's a seqeunce to contemplate: Buy well; buy better; spend wisely; spend for tomorrow; spend - and collaborate - to cement supplier relationships.

More: Get a handle on demand; design to cost or to functionality; reduce systems and process costs; spend the savings.  It's a cost well worth the expense.

Do You Really Want All Those Millennials? Here's How To Keep Them

By Art van Bodegraven | 01/03/2018 | 11:31 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.

 

In the midst of the talent struggles, Millennials have quietly surpassed Generation "X" as the largest share of the US workforce.  Employers ask, among themselves, how to equally embrace these workers, and, once in the fold, get them to stay happy.

The biggest deal, by far, is sustainability, and its tangible commitment as a requirement for the succeeding generation.  It is a core belief, this sustainability thing, and the basis for nixing a job or asignment that does not measure up to expectation.

Not only is sustainability important to careeer decision-takers, Millennials are empowered to make, or inspire, change in their environments.  They want to do more, and think that recycling is a social responsibility.

The days of make-do work are long gone.  As is the ability to throw out whatever no one wants.

The age of functional, perfunctory, operations is over.  Millennials want to do - and do more that has substance and enterprise impact.

So, go ahead and treat Millennials like grown-ups.  You can't lose.

Stupid HR Tricks

By Art van Bodegraven | 12/31/2017 | 10:00 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.

 

Borrowing liberally from now-retired Dave Letterman, we've translated people tricks into pet tricks, and then into organizational tricks.  Trust me, HR has many tricks, most leftover from another century, as reported a year or so ago by Forbes Daily.

As we prepare for New Years' Resolutions,  it's an excellent time to review how out of touch HR has become.  HR has fallen into the trap of  asking really dumb questions in the guise of probing for weakness and uncovering substandard responses.

The wary candidate can stay out of the traps with a progression of answers that: (1 display mastery; 2) indicate standard responses; or 3) are proforma. He or she simply needs to stay away from the truly simple trap questions.

Here are the traps, cleverly masked as deep space probes.

What's your greatest weakness?  

Why should we hire you from among our deep, rich talent pool?

Where do you see yourself in five years?

If you were: choose one, a tree, an animal, a film or TV show, a soup flavor, which would you be - and why?

How badly do you want the job?

The responses are categorized as low-mojo, medium-mojo, and high-mojo.

Desired responses in weakness are: too hard on myself (and sometimes others).  A spaghetti-legged answer would center on self and the importance of work/life balance.  A great response would be getting better at things already done better than most, and concentrating on the things I'm meant to be doing.  Whats your take?

Why should we hire you has a weak response - I'm a hard worker, and I really want the job - an air of desperation.  The medium-warm answer focuses in the quality of match with functional needs.  The breath of fresh air response is; maybe there's someone better, but I know I can do this.  If I'm the right person, we'll both know it.

In five years?  The tepid response is: maybe taking your job, ha-ha.  The unimaginative medium answer is: I like Finance; maybe I'll stay there for another five years of experience.  The hot answer is: Who can tell?  We live in a world of constant change.  But, I'm sure I'll be working with really smart people on a really big project that makes a difference for an enterprise.

If you were . . . All answers are losers.  Give the one (s) you care about, the persuade HR to jettison the lot of them.

How badly?  Desperation kicks in the door and kicks out the low-mojo respondent.  The medium answer relates to functionality, which only HR cares about and puts VPs to sleep.  The high-mojo response, and candidate, responds with: You know I'm interested because I'm here.  And, I've got a lot of questions. Is this a good time to take a deeper dive into them?

For 2018, make these your resolutions.  Craft strong high-mojo messages to stupid questions; dump the sad responses - and go get 'em!

New Year; New Resolutions

By Art van Bodegraven | 12/29/2017 | 9:05 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.

 

New Years' Resolutions are generally of a class of self-improvement, such as losing weight, smoking cessation, working out, running, and the like.

From a leader's standpoint, there may be other ways to better oneself and the lives of others.

I'm sticking with the knowledge of when to shut up as a very good thing to pursue come 2018.  Know when to be quiet!

Be quiet when the heat of anger fills a room; let even provoked irrationality take up the place of heat and  substitute decorum and civility.  Be quiet when you don't have all - or any - of the facts; it's OK to let silence suck up all the awkward gaps in oral communications.

Be quiet when an independent source hasn't verified the tale; this works in social media, too.  Be quiet if - and when - you might offend a weaker or subordinate party to dispute.  Or a marginalized or disrespected human being.

Be quiet when it is time to listen, to hear the views and voices of others.  The clichee of two ears and one mouth, to be used in that ratio, still apply.

Be quiet when you are boring an audience of one or one hundred; if you don't know when you are boring, work on building self-awareness.

Be quiet when someone has asked a question.  He or she may genuinely want an answer - and the odds of you having all of them are slim to none, especially if you're trying to think of the right one while the question remains open.

Keep Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon in mind - and The Sounds of Silence.

 

 

The Mindful Leader

By Art van Bodegraven | 12/27/2017 | 2:55 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.

 

Amex OPEN published a few tips from the CEO of The Non-Obvious Company that make all the sense in the world. Leadership is tough enough, but now we are being asked to be mindful as part of the package.

Mindfulness is the basic idea of adopting behaviors and habits that allow you to improve performance by gaining energy. And it is gathering momentum as it moves into the mainstream.

Some think mindfulness is something to somehow get worked into the schedule, already filled with demands. Others think that mindfulness, among your other demands, is an indulgence. Maybe, but it does not require all that much time.

Don't misunderstand; this not yoga or teatime meditation.

Take re-setting breaks to focus on meeting content, and to discover your leadership style(s). Be more present, in all facets of enterprise efforts,

Make art, find a creative outlet, including doodling, that unleashes tapping into the other side of the brain. This is where unconventional thinking breaks free of the conventional wisdom.

Get more and better sleep. Put aside your technology and focus on life balance. In a universe full of distractions, there is litle better than mindfulness.

 

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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