Archives for February 2012

In The Sweet By And By

By Art van Bodegraven | 02/24/2012 | 11:23 AM

We shall meet on that beautiful shore, promises the old hymn. Problem is that the sweet by and by has become the bitter here and now.

Continuing the theme, shall we gather at the river becomes problematic if we 're not sure that the highway infrastructure will get everyone there on time. Not to mention that the bridge that lets us cross to the other side is questionable, itself - a fatal flaw when encountering a deep river.

Add to those dark thoughts the reality that infrastructure development in the US is really about rewarding friends and punishing enemies. And bringing home the bacon, a tasty treat, but pork nevertheless. Thus, we build legions of Bridges to Nowhere.

Maybe we could get away with that disconnected and sub-optimal set of stabs at infrastructure development when we were the only economy in the world, and competed only among ourselves. But, in a world of competitive global supply chains, all of our bridges need to be to Somwehere. And. all of our local infrastructure initiatives need to be integrated parts of a whole.

We can't afford dysfunctional distributions of largesse (e.g., income tax dollars, fuel tax money, redistribution of funds from producing states to consuming states). We've got to make every dollar count, and every project deliver results to compete and thrive.

How politicians do not see that the expenditure model has changed - or should have - since the heyday of Beauregard Claghorn and Foghorn Leghorn is a bit beyond me. But, the silliness has become dangerous, and our decision-makers in the DC have got to man up and figure out how to assemble and fund a coherent national infrastructure development initiative.

Independent of partisan politics.

Or we may be gathering at the river somewhat earlier than we had anticipated. Can I get an "Amen!" on that?








Kaizen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance

By Art van Bodegraven | 02/17/2012 | 10:56 AM

Let's see. If Zen deals with attaining a state of enlightenment, and kaizen is another word for continuous improvement, it stands to reason that lots of the latter would lead to the former, n'est ce pas?

Maybe not.

Our commitment to a frenetic pace of continuous improvement in order to cust costs and compete on a global basis (with cutting costs being the trump suit), may be frazzing managers and workers to a point at which enlightenment can only be attained, in the time availbale for its seeking, through a liberal application of spirituous beverages.

While we work ourselves into a lather worthy of the valiant steeds of the Pony Express, we seem to forget, at the management level, that for all the value of continuous process improvement, there is a companion need for personal continuous improvement.

If we kill all the horses, there won't be a Pony Express. And, if we don't value he people doing the heavy lifting in making changes, we will lose, at best, their enthusiasm and commitment. Without them, the gains of kaizen are not sustainable.

So, we must invest in helping them build their skills, in providing more and better tools, and in learning about how to effectively interact with peers and supply chain colleagues.

It is not only the least we can do to let the "git 'er done" team know that they are valued, it is the DNA injection that will keep continuous improvement vibrant, creative, and value-producing.

The motorcycle? That's left over from the 1974 book that provoked endless discussion about situations and perspectives related to this form of Buddhism. Maybe in our world, we should be talking about Zen, kaizen, and the art of forklift maintenance.









Road Trip!! To Double Secret Probation.

By Art van Bodegraven | 02/10/2012 | 6:50 AM

The seven-year old got the New Year off to a bang-up start. Upon receiving the customary flute of sparkling apple juice, he immediately began to chant "Jug! Jug! Jug! Jug!"

Two things were evident at once. One, the parental control feature on the cable system was failing, and he had obviously been watching something on the order of Toga Party - Sorority Girls Gone Wild.

The other was that he had no clue regarding either the primary or secondary implication of what he was chanting.

As we continue to get deeper into the uncertain new era of collaboration in the supply chain world, I see some very similar misunderstandings. It is now in fashion to say "colaboration", but only a few really understand the depth and complexity of what collaboration means in genuine business relationships.

Further, "relationships" are still too-often thought to mean liberal applications of dinner, drinks, and dollies approximately four times a year. Or worse, a history of adversarial transactions going back several years. Or, personal connections between someone in Sales with someone on the other side in Purchasing.

We need to get real in this universe of 21st-century global competition. The old models, roughly equivalent in their subtleties to Dick and Jane See Spot Run (which even the seven-year old thinks are lame), aren't changed simply because we've added "collaboration" to our business vocabularies.

There are some nasty surprises ahead for anyone who tries to get away with merrely giving a new name to the same old ways of doing business.





Tax The Poor!

By Art van Bodegraven | 02/03/2012 | 2:27 PM

No, this is not about balancing the federal budget on the backs of the 99%, so please call off the Czar of Fair Shots. Adam Smith, in his seminal work describing intelligent and enlightened capitalism (popularly referred to as The Wealth of Nations), insisted that all citizens should pay some tax, however small, into the national coffers.

His ultimate point was that an engaged citizenry could feel good about contributing to the country's economic well-being, if only at a token level - that their voices had legitimacy. It's a little like the parable of the widow's mite, in which a trivial sum, given with some sacrifice, might have more value than a large amount , which might not be missed by someone wealthy.

Today, we see vast numbers of our citizenry who pay no Federal income taxes whatsoever, and armies of folks who receive so-called entitlements and transfer payments from various governmental entities.

Translating the notion to our world of supply chain management, I wondered how many working practitioners simply do their jobs and collect regular paychecks (admittedly paying taxes) without thinking much about what they might contribute to continuous improvement in their companies, or how they could help to advance the profession.

We need, in a healthy and vibrant profession, people who are putting in, as well as taking out. Let's not slide into an environment in which half of us are not contributing to growth and excellence, but are merely taking home their wages.






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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