Archives for October 2010

What's Next - Craigslist?

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/17/2010 | 9:48 AM

SmartFreightWare's COO, Jim Bramlett, brilliantly summarized, in a recent Letter To The Editor, what I've been fumbling around trying to say for some time now.

The big disconnect when almost everyone pays lip service to the idea of business relationships lies in the chasm of convenient definitions.  The "marriage" analogy may be trite, overused, and overplayed, but real business relationships - with suppliers, customers, service providers, consultants, and other suply chain partners - take hard work, focus, commitment, communication, accountability, focus, shared values and objectives, and continuous maintenance (preventive and otherwise).

Far too many supply chain relationships are treated more like arrangements with escort services: a relationship without commitment; payment for time, services, and company - and no more; and the freedom to go in a different direction with no warning and for no particular reason.

An inelegant example, perhaps, but an apt comparison.  A poorly constructed and unmaintained relationship with one-way terms might be momentarily gratifying, but can leave the short-term players, in the words of the great Eagles hit, "all alone at the end of the evening, when the bright lights are turning to blue . . ."

A Counter-Culture Contribution To Supply Chain Management

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/15/2010 | 1:18 PM

Just this week, I experienced one of those pesky teachable moments, in which a straightforward and dispassionate  document was misinterpreted as a personal attack.  The incident was revealing in displaying how, in a low-trust and fear-driven set of relationships, those who try to read between the lines can easily find things that aren't actually there.

Disruptive on a good day; catastrophic when other things are simultaneously going South.  Nasty in any relationship; career-limiting when long-term supply chain performance is at risk.

Hermann Hesse, the novelist, poet, hero of the '60's counter-culture, and all-around wack job, once said, "Assumptions are the termites of relationships."  He hit that one dead on.  It's tempting and easy to extract assumptions from misreadings, particularly when the assumption can fit a pre-determined set of misconceptions.

In the end, the intiial event could be rescued by a direct conversation that established context for the offending language, and reinforced the foundation for the more positive and productive working relationship.

And, the moral of the story?  Arm's-length communications, emails, texts, tweets, memos, and bulletin board announcements, despite their ease and ubiquity can never substitute for real communications among real people, especially in the delicate and complex relationships - internal and external - that make supply chains work - or not.

PS: Confessing fallibility in a public setting (my starring role in the teachable moment) isn't always comfortable, but is good for both the soul and prospects for doing better in the future.

Talk Radio Comes To The Supply Chain

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/01/2010 | 9:38 AM

Hate him or love him, Glenn Beck has hit on something with his "fusion of entertainment and enlightenment" mantra.

The idea of the fusion of human engineering and process engineering may be gaining some traction in our world of supply chain management and the relationships that oil the machinery involved.

Realistically, many people and organizations are good - even brilliant - at creating more innovative and effective supply chain solutions in transportation, warehousing, distribution, inventory management, planning, and information systems.  Others are borderline genius in building relationships among companies and individuals.

Extraordinarily few are good at both.  But, it's the success of transforming people's behaviors and perspectives, of getting organizations filled with disparate personalities and talents aligned around strategies and objectives, and of building and maintaining relationships among customers, suppliers, service providers, and other players in the supply chain that makes all the difference . . . that makes the precious process gains in time, cost, quality, and service levels sustainable over time (not to mention providing a foundation for long-term continuous improvement).

Fusion, not fission, seems to be the word of the day in elevating supply chain performance and enabling supply chain success.

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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