Archives for April 2011

A Royal Wedding

By Art van Bodegraven | 04/24/2011 | 8:29 AM

I don't know how it is in your neck of the woods, but we're deep into Anglophile Week here in our neighbourhood.  What with the premiers of the stunning new edition of Upstairs, Downstairs, the opening hoopla surrounding the perfectly dreadful Game of Thrones, and periodic check-ins with BBC America for the latest inside scoop, we are feeling veddy, veddy British indeed.

An old suspicion has resurfaced. though.  My initial premise is that there are only somewhere between three and four dozen actors in the whole of the United Kingdom.  And. all of them are in everything.  Every viewing of Cranford, Downton Abbey, Inspector Lewis, Jane Eyre, Harry Potter, or anything else remotely British is like a family reunion.  We just never know whether we're going to get Arthur Weasley or a mass murderer, the timorous Peter Pettigrew or a resolutely villainous "uncle" to the imperiled Beaudelaire kids.

Does this help to explain the rise of film stars from Australia?  Has Hollywood run out of Brits?

What all this twaddle has to do with the challenges of supply chain management and business realtionships is that we are continually faced with the need for choosing among product and service providers who appear to be capable of being and doing anything.  How can we get beyond the pose, behind the role, to discover the real person (or entity, as the case may be)?

It's about intimate, open, honest, and authentic communications.  About getting to know and understand - in both directions - motivations and objectives.  About leaving the tedium of transactions behind, in favor of the excitement - and payoff - of outcomes.  It's the real world of hard work, mutual sweat and tears, and results, not the fantasy world of pictures and promises.  And, it does involve a wedding, of sorts.

Until we can reach that level of understanding in our working supply chain relationships, we'll still need to warn some among us that throwing their knickers at Sir Ian McKellan's feet might not lead to the results they'd hoped for.

What's Old Is New Again

By Art van Bodegraven | 04/16/2011 | 8:22 AM

Last week I was engaged in earnest debate with myself, wondering if my burning desire to put up a life-sized poster of Jessie J in the office was a reflection of genuine admiration, or simply a cave-in to transient infatuation.  My reveries were interrupted by the appearance of Foo Fighters on every cable channel known to humankind, as well as being SNL’s musical guests.

 Foo Fighters?  What?  Are they still with us?  Turns out that this pretty fair used-to-was band from a few years back has just put out a killer studio album, and is ten degrees beyond hot, hot, hot!

 All of which led me to the current DC Velocity magazine’s Basic Training column (Hold that wrecking ball!) about re-purposing, recycling, and re-using old warehouses for new applications.

 The continuing catastrophe at the Fukishima nuclear plant is a daily stimulus to consider the “what if” possibilities of Yossi Sheffi’s 2005 call to logical pro-action in The Resilient EnterpriseNow people are re-visiting the applicability of those techniques, which many of us apparently forgot in the ensuing six years.

 They are also raising questions about the desirability of designing tighter, more connected, closer-by supplier networks, a kind of new-century application of the keiretsu approach popular in Asia in the latter part of the last century.  A powerful concept indeed, if we can marry it to contemporary business relationship practices.

 Taiichi Ohno’s frank admission that the foundation of the Toyota Production System (“lean” for those who can’t stand to use the Toyota name) was built from his learnings taken from Henry Ford’s 1926 book, Today and Tomorrow, puts the value of re-assessing and re-applying yesterday’s good stuff into perspective.

 So, yes, what’s old is, in many cases, new again.  And, we are better off for preserving that good stuff and polishing it for revived – and relevant – application.

 There may even be hope for those inch-and-a half wide leather ties I’ve been hanging on to.

Operation Overlord

By Art van Bodegraven | 04/09/2011 | 11:24 AM

The seven-year-old grandson has struck again.  When asked how he was going to navigate a tricky first-grade romantic triangle, he confidently stated, "I can handle Charlie, as long as he doesn't go overlord on me."  Bright as he is, we had no illusions that he was familiar with the official name of WW II's D-Day invasion of German-held Normandy.

To this day, we're not sure whether he meant "go overboard" or "lord it over" on little Charlie's part.  What I am sure of, though, is that there are way too many in our supply chain arena who build word piles of terms that may not have specific meaning to workaday audiences.

So, after an overload (not overlord) of "portals" on top of "that space" "out there," I tend to turn to my friend Robert Mondavi in the interest of achieving clarity.

When that doesn't work, and I'm faced with bootstrapping change management, best practices platforms, lean and transparent paths to performances, and rationalized operating metrics, it's time to call Jack Daniel.  And call it a night.

Maybe it's a generational thing, but I'm always ready to listen to someone who speaks in simple declarative sentences.  Not so much the ones who are mindlessly piling words on top of other words.  In those instances, I'm always reminded of the old joke, the punch line of which is, "There must be a pony in there somewhere."

Touring The Space-Time (Dis)Continuum

By Art van Bodegraven | 04/03/2011 | 9:07 AM

Oh, I've got to stop watching that SyFy Channel.  But not today.

It has struck me that the so-called Great Recession has encouraged the ascendancy of the cost-cutters.  You know, the ones who don't get that price isn't the same as cost, and that cost isn't the same as value.  When tough times strike in an age of short attention spans, lust for instant gratification, and worship at the altar of the false gods of quarterly earnings, this crowd begins to think of themselves as the new priestly class.

And, when they begin to eviscerate the human infrastructure of supply chain organizations, the effects can be both long-lasting and deadly for both the host organization and its relationships with business partners.  The problem lies in, I suspect, that the results of cost-cutting are immediately apparent on the bottom line.  The consequences, however, are felt gradually, over a longer period, and without an obvious cause for the effect.

By the time that things go from not feeling quite right, to deteriorating performance and frayed supply chain relationships, and finally to the brink of irretrievable failure, the architects of collapse have likely moved on, generally upward.

I am among the first to recognize that aggressive cost reduction can be the only hope for a company in crisis.  But, cost reduction is not the same as improving performance.

We seem to need to learn this lesson once every generation.  And, so we wait for the pendulum to swing back, hoping that the learnings will stick with a few more practitioners than the last time out.

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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