Archives for March 2012

Chacun A Son Gout

By Art van Bodegraven | 03/31/2012 | 7:56 AM

If I had access to all the right accent marks, that might be French for "each to his own taste" but the keyboard has nearly as many limitations as the writer does. The phrase came to mind as I withered under a continuing barrage of critical, on a good day, comment.

It seems that my seeming attraction to artists of the female persuasion who operate perilously near the edge of coloring noutside the lines is regarded as disturbing, un-natural, creepy, and worse. True enough, I am guilty of commending such worthy subjects as Esperanza Spalding, Lady Gaga (twice), Jessie J, Adele, Mary Travers, Lady Antebellum (which is a group and only partially female), and Madonna (for her ability to spit through her teeth) to you all.

Given time, I will eventually get to Jewel, the late Etta James, Chrissie Hynde, Lana Del Rey, and others. Going on limited defense, I will point out that I have saluted Andrea Bocelli, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Prince, Leon Redbone, the long-gone Ted Lewis, and have yet to bring up Willie Nelson and Roy Orbison (but plan to).

But, in a universe that features, on the male side of the ledger such performers for the ages as Justin Bieber and Cee Lo Green, what should one call a deeper interest in the distaff side? The word you are searching for could be "normal." (Interestingly, the complainers have been nearly universally male, so this predilection has not been a target for the PC police - yet.)

My character flaw in being attracted to the rule-breakers and stereotype-benders vould explain how it is that I turn away from some last-century exemplars of supply chain relationships in favor of bolder, newer approaches to business relationships.

For exmple, my intolerance of the mid-50s model of a logistics population made up of shippers of all types and carriers in all modes engaged in mortal combat over tendering loads and rate negotiations is out in the open. I simply don't care who wins those battles.

I am much more likely to be turned on by win-win (sometimes win-win-win) initiatives to do business based on relaionships, operational and planning intimacy, air revenue and margins, and mutual value propositions. In short, by new-century models of sustainable collaborative success for partners in integrated supply chains.

If that qualifies as kinky, bring on the bondage paraphernalia. And don't forget the deeper philosophical implications wrapped around Jane Foda's Barbarella.




Esperanza Springs Eternal

By Art van Bodegraven | 03/24/2012 | 9:47 AM

For those of you whao have not been paying attention, or who don't ever cross over into the jazz genre, you are missing the spine-tingling music of Esperanza Spalding. She has nowt to do with the makers of very fine baseball gloves and other paraphernalia. Although the image of Esperanza and leather is interesting to consider.

She is another of those "how can this happen" success stories, coming out of a scary rough neighborhood in Portland, but blessed with great genes and a talented mother. Intially self-taught on instruments, she wangled a spendid musical education, as well as club gigs at an age when others might have been watching Hannah Montana. Having only a GED at the high school level did not seem to hold her back to any degree. In fact, she became the youngest instructor ever at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Along the way, she experienced failure, and financial exhaustion.

Today, she is acclaimed as a singer and instrumentalist (bass), showered with accolades and awards, including a Best New Artist Grammy and an appearance at the Nobel Peace Prize awards. Is this upward mobility and the recognition of merit at its best?

We still, in our world of supply chain managment, have the potential for our own Esperanzas. Our prospects for nurturing cabable people who don't happen to have Harvard MBAs are enormous. And, we can still find many, many practitioners who began their working careers as order pickers, forklift drivers, ar freight handlers. Today, they are Vice Presidents, Directors, and Managers with national and global responsibilities - and the responsibility to help others win the Meritocracy Games.

I hope we can preserve this special quality in the ever-more demanding and changing supply chain world, especially as more and more of our community are now learning about the nuts and bolts of the profession in organized educational curricula.







Puff, The Magic (Cough, Cough) Dragon

By Art van Bodegraven | 03/16/2012 | 8:14 AM

Confession: I only ever followed Peter, Paul and Mary on account of the achingly haunting Mary Travers. But, more to the point, mijn vrouw is usually about two years ahead of the wave in the mad whirlpool of social phenomena.

Thus, it came to pass a couple of years ago, that she attempted the tablespoon of cinnamon adventure so popular now on YouTube. Not a success, and not a pretty sight, although she is usually gorgeous. Her eyes began to water; she appeared somehow mortally stricken. When she opened her mouth to speak, perchance to scream, little puffs of cinnamon dust rose in the cool evening air.

The notorious second-grader, just five at the time, ran behind the swing set for protection, calling out, "She's gonna blow!" Would that she could have. We considered a 911 call, but elected to spare the neighbors the free entertainment involved.

You may be questioning by now, "And your meaning, O Toothless Wonder, is?" it is this. One school of thought in the world of change-making is that blowing up the building and starting over - of taking in all of the cinnamon at once - is both cathartic and desirable. I think, while there might be a few exceptions, that the Big Bang approach in the Supply Chain universe involves too much risk.

That is, it is better to learn by doing, to build capability bit by bit, to begin by laying a foundation, and only then put the pedal to the metal is accelerating the pace of change. Part of the value of the admittedly slower building and growing process is that it is critical to take all the partners in the supply chain along for the ride.

Failing to do so can create dis-synchronization, or worse, and certainly jeopardizes the sustainability and long-term success of the change.

In short, once one reaches the Land of Honah Lee, the object of the journey should not be to go back to where one came from.

Note: Ingesting large quantities of cinnamon or any other powders or leaves is not recommended, condoned, or encouraged by the author. Even if the substances occur somewhat naturally in brownies or other media, including sticky buns.




Now Boarding: The Last Train To Karma

By Art van Bodegraven | 03/09/2012 | 7:26 AM

Karma is widely misinterpreted to mean "what goes around, comes around" - a sort of eventual cosmic payback. In fact, karma is a deed or action, either good or not so good, and, in general, is what it is. But, at the least, karma can create either good or bad auras, although we tend to think more about the "getting even" aspects of bad karma.

SiriusXM radio's Dr. Laura Schlesinger is, for example, a big-time believer in accelerating karmic revenge, striking back in the here and now, rather than waiting for the ultimate, but unknown, inevitable. But, in reality, for significant numbers of Buddhists, karma is a momentary thing, without a cause-and-effect relatuonship with future states.

For others, there are karmic views of: 1) receiving either good news or ill fortune - getting what one deserves at some future point; and 2) progression or regression in reincarnation being based on the aggregate effects of individual good or bad deeds. In no case does genuine karma have anything much to do with the Boy george classic, Karma Chameleon.

We see a good bit of the bad karma payback in the ebbing and flowing of power in the supply chain, as shippers and carriers try to take advantage when one or the other is down, and as the formerly downtrodden try to recoup losses when they are in the ascendancy. But, there are hopeful signs as we contemplate entering an Age of Collaboration in supply chain management.

This could be as good a time as any to start building some good karma in our supply chain relationships, whether one subcribes to the "one and done" school of deeds and actions or the longer-term view of aggregating good and/or bad karma.

Hey, what's to lose?










On The Bus Or Under It: Electoral Logistics

By Art van Bodegraven | 03/02/2012 | 6:49 AM

I am endlessly fascinated by the peregrinations of candidates for public office as they undergo the rigorous process of surviving campaigns. Sometimes the routing makes good intuitive sense. On Wednesday, W. Mitt Romney left the friendly confines of that state up North, and stopped in Toledo, then Columbus, as opening salvos in a run-up to Super Tuesday in Ohio. Very logical, and very nearly a straight line.

The next day, he was off to Idaho and Montana, possibly to count sheep, while Newt courted primary votes in Georgia, which has a huge delegate count (and very few sheep). What was that all about?

Now, Mitt has backtracked, nearly across the country, to return to Ohio, where he'll be long-distance-dueling with Rick Santorum from different venues at the same time. Newt shows up only once, following Santorum at a dinner.

There is obviously a logic at work that I don't get (and not for the first time). But, it appears that candidates have to be like corporate executives, and figure out how to leverage both hard and soft assets. They've got to know when and where to put big money into highly visible wholesale politics. They've got to suss out where the human investment in retail politics can pay off in votes (and when publicity around a retail event can translate into positive wholesale exposure).

The details of the logistics of all this back and forthing are daunting. A sizable battery of press moves with each candidate, and is augmented by local counterparts anytime there is a stop. Journalists, photographers, and commentaters abound. And, there are ad hoc press delegations, often from other countries, that circulate through events, taking notes, snapping pictures from their iPhones, and interviewing event participants on the QT.

We witnessed all of the above at a recent event, which included Fox News' Campaign Carl Cameron talking and texting, presumably with HQ, throughout. And, the lack of logistics logic continued to keep me on high alert.

And, then it dawned. In politics, as in business, while we would all like for our supply chain execution to be super-cost-efficient, we are bound to tailor what and how we execute consistent with greater strategies. The vision, mission, and objectives of candidates, campaigns, and corporations are what we are charged with aligning with and supporting.

Our job in supply chain management is to craft plans and processes that best balance cost and service with those over-riding considerations, even when the next campaign stop is somewhere in the neighborhood of "Infinity and beyond . . ."





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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