Archives for June 2011

George Gershwin Goes Networking

By Art van Bodegraven | 06/24/2011 | 11:01 AM

There's more to the world of networks than CBS, Fox, and local breakfasts for job seekers.  An acquaintance of many years contacts me only every two or three years, that is, when he's out of work - again.  He's surprised when I'm surprised because he thinks that he is simply "networking."

George Gershwin's character, Sportin' Life in Porgy and Bess, sings A Woman Is A Sometime Thing.  Great song, but networking, unlike the woman in question, had better not be a sometime thing.  Come to think of it, believing that a woman is a "sometime thing" is a dangerous assumption, but that's another story.

Saving networking until it is direly needed is a little like waiting until the ship hits the iceberg before inflating the life raft.  Not to mention that the accompanying desperation dilutes the quality of the communication, and that only coming 'round in moments of need is an insult to both the people and the process.

The message is that networkng ought to be a regular, routine, proactive, and positive set of interactions with a wide variety of contacts, many of whom will be of no use whatsoever in a job search but have all kinds of useful information.  Failing to network as an integral part of your busines life means faling behind the wave, losing track of people on the move, and being seen as out of touch, perhaps even irrelevant. 

Nowhere is this more true and more important than in the constantly changing world of supply chain management.

Truckloads Of Goldfish

By Art van Bodegraven | 06/21/2011 | 7:42 AM

The 7-year-old grandson has developed a high-decibel affinity for the children's card game, Go Fish.  Given his mastery of the arcane Pokemon universe, this is a little like having Rafael Nadal playing Ping-Pong in the basement.  His highlights of the game, another example of being almost right, consists of responding "Gold Fish!" when the surrender of a given card is requested.  Sorry, Pepperidge Farms, the phrase has nothing to do with your very fine snacks.

As more truckload (and other) carriers confess that their constrained capacities are being reserved for those shippers who were fair in their dealings during the worst of recent economic hard times, I began to speculate about how many (formerly) tough price negotiators are having to hear their carriers tell them to "Go Fish!" when their load availability exceeds hauling capacity availability.

The grandson has also mastered the distressing ploy of telling his doting grandfather to "Gold Fish!" when he has the desired card, but wants to husband it for unknown purposes of his own.  You don't suppose that a carrier would tell a selected shipper to "Go Fish!" when he wanted to hold on to some available capacity for future use by a shipper with whom it had been much easier to do business with, do you?

Who Killed Just-In-Time?

By Art van Bodegraven | 06/17/2011 | 11:24 AM

The June edition of CFO magazine (www.cfo.com) suggests that the recent catastrophes in Japan are leading to a reassessment of just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing.  Say what!

We haven't had genuine just-in-time manufacturing since the off-shoring stampede reached critical mass several years ago.  Lengthened supply chains, coupled with variability in arrival, turned JIT into yesterday's news.  Carefully pared down inventories had to be built back up to accomodate the effects of time and uncertainty in the new "global" supply chain models.  Either that, or jeopardize service levels.

Now, the accountants at CFO are suggesting that inventories need to be deepened because of earthquake / tsunami / nuclear meltdown risks.  Can it be that they never truly understood what either JIT or supply chain management were all about?

Some level of inventory investment when replenishment cycles are long and not completely dependable is prudent.  But stocking up in case of Armageddon?  C'mon, get real.  That's like allowing six hours to get to the airport each time you go because some day the car might explode on the way there.

More inventory isn't the answer.  More proactive contingency planning might be.  Better access to alternative supply chain relationships couldn't hurt.  In the meantime, let's remember how much money the accountants thought we would save by moving manufacturing to Asia, and how foolish we would be not to.

Buckeye Battle Cry - The Price Of Authenticity

By Art van Bodegraven | 06/06/2011 | 8:40 AM

We often talk about the importance of authenticity in personal and business relationships.  Sometimes we are disappointed when an unexpected authenticity reveals itself.  The fabric of the Buckeye Nation has been rent asunder over the past couple of weeks by the fallout from the football coach's sin of lying to the NCAA.

Whether one supports Jim Tressel or not, and whether or not one agrees with his choice to be authentic in relationships with his players, rather than be authentic in following the rules set out by collegiate football's governing body, he was, in the end, authentic in his own view of the greater good.

The coach elected to run a grave risk, with severe penalties, in order to stay true to his commitment to the players in his charge.  He lost the gamble, and is paying a steep price in self-image, public perception, and personal finances. 

Without either attacking or defending him or his choice, I began to wonder how this might relate to the world of supply chain business relationships.  The core questions are really two.  Would you be willing to take a hit  - to take one for the team - in the interest of a long-term relationship with a supplier, customer, or service provider?  And, would any of your supply chain partners be willing to take a hit for the sake of the long-term potential with you?

if the answer to either version of the question is no, there's another looming question.  Are you in the right kinds of business relationships with the right kinds of partners?


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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