Archives for January 2010

Wizarding And Supply Chain Management

By Art van Bodegraven | 01/31/2010 | 7:18 AM

Jo Rowling has given us some really useful insights in her Harry Potter saga.  The big one for me has been the clear message that Harry, even as The Chosen One, couldn't hope to fight - let alone conquer - Lord Voldemort without the strength of his relationships, and the special advantages they contributed to his mission.  Dumbledore, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, the Order of the Phoenix - they and others all brought something vital to the eventual victory.

The lesson gets reinforced when we see Catherine Zeta-Jones sing I Can't Do It Alone in Chicago, or hear the Beatles or Joe Cocker doing With A Little Help From My Friends.  And so it goes in the universe of supply chain managemnt, in which we must rely on the capabilities and execution of our upstream and downstream partners for both long-term survival and eventual success.

Curiously, though, the entertainment world is dominated by  a star syndrome.  In the supply chain world, solo acts tend to flame out early.

Duh!, Aha!, And Pole Dancers

By Art van Bodegraven | 01/25/2010 | 2:44 AM

Consultant John Gentle has recently written about the importance of trust in relationship management.  A fast reaction from some might be, "Well, duh, everybody knows that!"

But, as we survey the wreckage of failed business relationships that surround us, it's clear that everybody doesn't know that.

So, for those who get it, the trust observations are a useful reminder.  For those who don't, maybe they present an opportunity for a wake-up call.

We continue to run into professionals who are committed to golf, drinks, and pole dancers as three keys to maintaining business relationships.  C'mon, it's 2010, and we can do better.  After the party's over, more and more supply chain players are figuring out that relationships are really about value and sustainability . . . and trust.

Hey, Teacher! Leave Them Kids Alone!

By Art van Bodegraven | 01/17/2010 | 8:22 AM

It might appear that entirely too many young people in the U.S. have taken to heart the exhortation, "We don't need no education," from the Pink Floyd anthem, Another Brick In The Wall.  A friend recently admitted to interrviewing three Princeton candidates from a well-known private school.  Two were of Indian heritage and one was Iranian.

I won't wander into the swamp of comparative genetics, but will observe that environments in which learning and accomplishment are valued tend to produce scholars and achievers.

There may be good news in the world of logistics and supply chain managment, however.  As DC Velocity recently reported, logistics centers (and communities that aspire to be) are investing in relevant and focused workforce development (which is a code word for education).

Here in beautiful downtown Ohio, a coordinated and multi-tiered initiative is underway.  It involves universities, colleges, community colleges, high schools, and private sector companies in developing and delivering logistics education to students at all levels, as well as to adult learners (for either retraining or skills maintenance).  The objectives are self-serving - supporting local business development and economic growth.  And, it's working.

So, what are you doing to develop and enhance your workforce's knowledge base?  Could they be doing a better job with more training?  As important - maybe even more so - what are your supply chain partners doing in this arena?  Would improved skills help build a more capable and effective - and more competitive - end-to-end supply chain?

Mommy, They're Movin' My Cheese Again!

By Art van Bodegraven | 01/10/2010 | 7:12 AM

Dr. Gabriel Weisskopf, CEO of Softair AG, has wryly observed  "change is inevitable - except from a vending machine."  And, so it is, which brought Spencer Johnson's 1998 mini-classic Who Moved My Cheese? to mind.

The little book has been much abused, sometimes being handed out during periods of turmoil as a managerial way of saying, "Get over it, and get back to work."  Difficulty in dealing with change is not confined to a rabble of knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers, though.  It afflicts us all in some degree, no matter how enlightened we may think we are.

And, it's not a challenge confined to individuals.  Organizations - and their operating relationships - struggle with change.  Wheteher we are inclined to be reactors or proactors, continuous change stresses our capablilities and the quality of our business relationships.

Weisskopf maintains that we collectively live on a planet called Comfort Zone.  I'll add that the planet is ringed with the Moons of Denial.  Nevertheless, change is a constant in our business lives, and winners will be facing change and taking action.  But, it's not as easy as a motivational book might lead you to believe.

By the way, it's perfectly okay to challenge the premises of change, as long as the challenge is healthy and not a smokescreen for the warm fuzzy option of inaction.  At the end of the day, though, management by hope is not a workable strategy in a universe of change, especially when tightly linked supply chain performance is at stake.

Honey, While You're Out, Would You . . . ?

By Art van Bodegraven | 01/03/2010 | 10:59 AM

When you live four blocks from the grocery store, you get questions like that a lot.  So, here I am, visiting Costco again.

The latest issue of The Costco Connection magazine features Better Together, which talks about strategic alliances and stretching business opportunities.  It includes mentions of providing more value to customers by forming alliances, the power of synergies, and joint marketing.  Pitfalls of: expecting the impossible, of not sharing information (low trust), and unbalanced agreements also see the spotlight.

The core messages of the article are applicable to 'most all business relationships, and especially to supply chain relationships.  The fact that Costco thinks they are important enough to take up a page in their general interest publication for members is remarkable.

If they get it, why don't the rest of us?  Or, if we do, what are we doing about building smart and sustainable business relationships with mutual benefits up and down the supply chain?

While you ponder those questions, I've got to go back to pick up the cashews I forgot on the first trip.

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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