Archives for October 2011

Mood Swings

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/26/2011 | 7:16 AM

This has naught to do with the antics of Chick-Fil-A's milk cows posing as candidates for hamburger. Nor is it a desperate attempt to score some good pharmaceuticals from my very ethical primary care physician. Although, if he could see his way clear to . . . never mind.

Rather, it relates to my state of mind in contemplating where we are, in the collective, in pursuing the benfits of collaboration within the supply chain. I move quickly from depression to terror, then back again. In the abstract, we (or most of us) know that collaboration with partners spells, not necessarily succcess, but mere survival as the 21st century rolls on.

But, we're not very good at it, yet, in the main. Later today, I'm meeting with a (national) governmental agency that has set up a specific organizational component to manage supplier relationships, with serious emphasis on collaboration, communications, joint problem-solving, and other sensible actions for mutual benefit. They do have stringent rules in transparency to abide by in the procurement process. but, once engaged, they behave like grown-ups.

Here's the core question. If the Federal government gets it, what's holdoing the rest of us back? What will it take to tip everyday, real-world private sector enterprises into acting in their own enlightened self-interest?

So, standing at the water's edge of Lake Collaboration, waiting for a few more brave souls to dip their toes in, is when my eyes begin to bug out. And, the deprression gallops toward terror.









The End Of The Affair?

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/24/2011 | 12:13 PM
Maybe the plot line isn't quite the same as in Graham Greene's very fine (and somewhat autobiographical) novel, or the films based on it. Perhaps the scenario is a little more like Mildred Pierce, in which ambitious Mildred and her unimpressive ex-husband find themselves together after parallel roller-coaster rides of independence, success, lies, and betrayal. The love/hate triangle in this case involves manufactuirng, China, and the United States. Over tha past forty years or so, manufacturing has been lured away by the almond-eyed alluire of low-cost exotic labor. But, things do change. Wages in China have risen by 60% or 70% over the past few years. The esteemed strategy firm, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) now estimates (in an August report) that the total cost differential (incluiding both labor and transport) between China and the US will be 10% or less in just a few years. At that point, are the risks, uncertainties, performance variabilities, ans intellectual property exposures worth it? Will the next step be to go even farther away in search of younger, cheaper exotic labor? Or, will it clearly be time to come, if not home, closer to home? Today there are cases of return, or relocation to this hemisphere. Not yet a fad, and not with enough critical mass to be a clear trend. But, the possibility to become a 21st-century mega-trend is definitely there. The supply chain consequences could be enormous, in time, cost, structure, and reliability. The impact on relationships among supply chain partners could be seismic. I can't wait to see how the movie ends.

Choosing A Life Partner, More Or Less

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/12/2011 | 1:24 PM

The seven-year old put it into high gear this week. Asked what qualities were important in a girlfriend, he named, without hesitation: 1) the ability to recite the Pledge of Allegiance; 2) willingness to break the rules; 3) being a good listener; 4) getting good grades; and, 5) intelligence.

Asked about beauty, he scoffed that the pretty ones were those who chased the boys around and gave them a hard time. Disclosure: second grade wasn't nearly that exciting when I was wearing short pants. But, he has once again hit upon deeper meanings.

His criteria seem to have direct parallels in what we ought to be looking for in supply chain partners, whether service providers or other links in the farm-to-fork, mine-to-manufacture chain.

To take his points in sequence, we should prize: 1) loyalty and commitment; 2) thoughtful risk-taking; 3) strong and empathetic communications; 4) results and achievement orientation, hitting performance targets; and, 5) being smart enough to be both analytic and creative. And, by the way, if all the partner has to offer is superficial attractiveness, get your red flags out of storage - the deal won't last beyond the first blush of infatuation.

Think about it. A little kid with a half-formed brain and missing a few teeth has condensed a book's worth of instruction into six simple points. I've got to stay close to him; he's going to be a force in this supply chain world once he gets beyond grammar school.

Collaboration Nation Looks Out To A Collaboration Planet

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/07/2011 | 1:21 PM

The collaboration word got a bad rap in WWII, when local politicians and
sometimes Fascists were called "collaborators" when they helped the Nazis seize
power and occupy formerly sovereign nations. A better term would have been
"traitors" for these "collaborators" were actually cooperators with bad
intentions. You history buffs might want to look up Quisling, Vichy government,
and several other examples.

This week's CSCMP Annual Global Conference was filled with talk of
collaboration. Some cynics pooh-poohed the enthusiasm, pointing out that
collaboration during the Great Recession looked more like shippers and carriers
gouging out one another's eyes. But DSC's Ann Drake got it right, pegging
collaboration as the 21st-century mega-trend in the supply chain

Why will it be different this time? Because the real players have finally
realized that collaboration within high-trust, high-communications supply chains
is the only path to the end-to-end chain succeeding - and surpassing the

A word of caution. The word "labor" lies buried within "collaboration," and
labor means serious work. These things don't happen simply because we throw an
attractive word on the table. The "co" part of the word, though, means that we
will all be working hard to make collaboration work - and pay off.

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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