Archives for November 2010

Giving Thanks

By Art van Bodegraven | 11/22/2010 | 6:48 AM

Tis the season to be introspective, and that's a good thing.  Your 'umble correspondent has more to be thankful for than the average bear.  The highlights include:

  • Being here, far from a sure thing a couple of short years ago.  Continuing appearances have been made possible by Harmon E. Pizzicatto, MD, and his network of all-stars, including the estimable surgeon Grizzle D. Sawbones, MD and his splendid crew.
  • Family, with amazing children, dazzling grandchildren, and a stunning wife, who keeps me grounded in reality.  Her technique consists of periodically coming upside my head with a full-grown tuna.
  • Friends.  You know who you are, and that you are treasured, each and every one.
  • This marvelous field we find ourselves in.  Coming out of a coma some years ago, I found myself in the Technicolor Oz of Supply Chain Management, and have no desire to return to Kansas and Auntie Em.
  • Colleagues, from whom I continually learn, and whose brilliance and diligence make me look way better than I really am.
  • Clients, who are smarter and better than I deserve, and who make it easy - well, relatively easy - to do supply chain magic.

Funny how many of those blessings involve relationships, isn't it?  Do you suppose that giving leads to receiving in both personal and business environments?

When Differences Are More Than Semantic

By Art van Bodegraven | 11/20/2010 | 7:17 AM

Inspired by the "Intel Inside" sticker on her laptop, mein frau recently suggested that I needed to find a "Powered by Robert Mondavi" sticker for my forehead.  No matter, today's mutterings relate to how painfully some people don't even begin to get what the "people" part of "people, process, technology" is really about.

At the risk of annoying Michael and Rita, and really irking the article's authors, I noted with some dismay the November-December WERCSheet feature on labor managment systems at Sara Lee.  My takeaway, based on the article's apparent focus, was that it's all too easy to use LMS to impose technology and process soutions on people, without doing enough to elevate the potential of the human side of the equation.  And, that's not dealing fairly or effectively with the critical third leg of the performance/productivity stool.

Not that it's bad to have standards (whether carefully engineered or not), and not that it's bad to set performance objectives. And, it's certainly not bad to use comprehensive data collection, reporting, and analysis to support improvements.  It's even okay to compensate based on goal achievement (although it's not my favorite motivator).  But, it all seems uncomfortably reminiscent of the bad old days of efficiency experts and Charlie Chaplin movies, e.g., Modern Times.

But when LMS information is used simply (as implied in the article) to recognize/reward and to coach associates to "get back up to speed," it seems that something's missing from what it takes to create a culture of improvement, accomplishment, collaboration, matching capabilities with needs and requirements, high trust, low fear, and change-seeking.

My own preference might be to work on those comprehensive people elements first, and then add the tool(s) to measure and report once the environment for sustainable continuous improvement had been institutionalized.  But, hey, that's just me and my shaky notion that doing things with people is closer to the intent of "people, process, technology" than doing things  to them.

Welcome To The Party!

By Art van Bodegraven | 11/12/2010 | 9:57 AM

Mitch Mac Donald, DC Velocity's Group Editorial Director, highlights an "ah-ha!" concept in the November issue(www.dcvelocity.com) that more people ought to be latching on to.  A few organizations, in both B2B and B2C channels, have discovered that logistics and supply chain management are the customer-facing components of their businesses.

Those who heard the penny drop early on took bold steps, such as having Customer Service report to the logistics organization, or - even more dangerously - allowing supply chain folks to go on sales calls.

What's remarkable is that so few have figured this out, not to mention that even fewer have had the vision or the courage to challenge the 19th-century thinking that sends sellers out to sell, while the rest of us tote barges or lift bales, or whatever.

Maybe its time for some 21st-century thinking - and risk-taking - that recognizes the synergies of teaming up those who sell with those who actually deliver on the much-vaunted "promise of the brand." 


By Art van Bodegraven | 11/05/2010 | 12:54 PM

Anyone who has seen the brilliant musical, Jersey Boys, knows this already.  But, most people aren't aware of the amazing business relationship between the legendary and indefatigable Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio, the force behind his music, and a long-time on-stage member of The Four Seasons.

These two real-life Jersey boys cemented their business arrangements nearly fifty years ago with a simple handshake, nothing more and nothing else since.  Imagine - fifty years!  And, the unchanged terms of the deal have made them both wealthy.

Maybe we can't quite get to the point at which we can build half-century supply chain relationships without adding a little documentation for the record.  But we can - and should - work around the clock to build the kind of trust in our relationships with customers, suppliers, and service providers that might let us consider handshake arrangements.

Hey, whaddya got to lose?

Picking Nits - Again

By Art van Bodegraven | 11/01/2010 | 12:35 PM

A trade publication this month published a 5+ page piece about collaboration in distribution, its origins, and its potential benefits. Kane Is Able's Chris Kane (Chief Customer Strategy Officer) was quoted extensively, and he has spoken and written eloquently on the topic.  In fact, collaboration for consolidated transportation among supply chain competitors and with supply chain partners is a powerful technique.

Where my personal train begins to go off the rails lies in the implicit notion that prospective participants in such collaborative ventures will be swayed by the sheer logic, clear cost advantage, and enabling technology involved.  Some might.  But, sustained and continually improving performance in this effort, or in any collaborative initiative in supply chain planning and execution, demands a rigorous and thorough application of trust-building, alignment, and people-to-people communications tools and techniques to hang together.

These are all-too-often the missing ingredients when we begin to talk about collaboration and relationships in the supply chain realm.  Good intentions, warm feelings, and a solid going-in business case are simply not enough.  Without the foundational work - and it is work - collaborative solutions are likely to be sub-optimized from the beginning, and susceptible to slow decay as time goes on.  The real and lasting collaborations need strong frameworks and continuous maintenance to support the success of operational details.

What do you think?

Life In The Fast Lane

By Art van Bodegraven | 11/01/2010 | 9:43 AM

Surely make you lose your mind, as the Eagles song goes.  So, I was reading a recent issue of The Economist on a recent flight, hoping to impress someone.  An article caught my eye, discussing infrastructure challenges.

Decrepit power stations, needing to be replaced by some mix involving nuclear options.  Overcrowded rail lines.  Competition for investment.  Dubious government priorities.  High-speed rail as a questionable alternative.  Pain in infrastructure development being felt in advance of realizing any benefits.  Significant cost impact on energy costs for households to fund necessary development.

Oh, wait - they were writing about the UK.  Odd how the messages parallel those we might expect in a similar article about the US, isn't it?

When we talk about relationships in the supply chain world, and collaboration for mutual benefit in pursuing shared objectives, we can't forget that government(s) - state, local, federal - are integral to the greater partnership.  Their roles can help, hinder, or confuse our collective efforts in building the supply chain infratructures needed  - desperately - for success in global compwetition.

How do you think our governmental supply chain partners are doing?

PS: I didn't impress anyone, btw.

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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