Archives for September 2012

Mr. van Winkle, This Is Your 2012 Wake-Up Call . . .

By Art van Bodegraven | 09/26/2012 | 8:38 AM

Largely forgotten today, Rip van Winkle is a character and a title created by American writer Washington irving in 1819.Mijn Heer van Winkle was reported to have slept for twenty years after consuming potables of uncertain provenance from a group of small men playing at nine pins in the Kaatskill mountains of upstate New York, a center of Dutch settlement in the New World.

Rip thus escaped the calamities of the Revolution and the horrors of life with Dame van Winkle, a woman of sharp powers of observation and even sharper commentaries, especially those directed at Rip's numerous shortcomings.

A frighteningly similar outcome surfaced in the latest issue of an otherwise respected trade publication, in which some really smart people argued powerfully for bridging the great divide between Procurement and Supply Chain organizations.

Good stuff, except for the growing reality that Sourcing and Procurement are integrated parts of the Supply Chain organization in many progressive companies.  I will freely admit that there is no one organizational structure for Supply Chain that is "right" for all companies.  But, imho, an environment in which Supply Chain and Procurement are adversarial entities that need to communicate and collaborate better is one that is clinging to a last bastion of siloed functionality in its supply chain management planning and execution.

So, have these learned worthies been asleep for twenty years?  Have they awakened to fight the battle of the last century?  You be the judge.

I will offfer the case of an un-named consumer products manufacturer that took the bold step of collapsing its sourcing and procurement resources into the overall supply chain structure.  Not satisfied with putting only one toe in the water, the well-known company also integrated manufacturing planning and operations into the overall (and integrated) structure.

Sound adventurous?  It was, and it all happened twenty years ago.  So, I am back to the theme: better communications and collaboration are not the answers we need.  Integration and transparency - bombing the silos and breaking down the barriers - are.



Making Converts, One Soul At a Time

By Art van Bodegraven | 09/18/2012 | 8:14 AM

The missionary business is tough, always selling, seriously outnumbered, into another faction's strengths and strongholds.  This is true in any religion, in any location on the planet.  Unless, of course, the missionary has the advantage of a fierce army on one side and a body of water on the other, with the object(s) of his or her affections in between.

In consequence, the process is arduous, with intense one-on-one logic, persuasion, warnings, alarms, and promises of a difficult-to-validate future.  But, the effort is all worth it for the true believer, and each small win is a triumph.

So it is in the fertile fields of transforming supply chain functionaries into broad thinkers and strategists who command respect and communicate clearly at the highest executive levels in an enterprise.  A key, in addition to being slightly more than half smart, is the ability to speak another language, which is also a challenge for more traditional missionaries.

The lingua franca is that of Finance, of corporate performance in its deepest and broadest dimensions.  We've talked about this over-riding need in our profession for years, now.  The obvious next question is " How do we do that"?

Comes now my old friend, Larry Lapide, with a crisp and well-reasoned exploration of how to use the venerable DuPont Model (sometimes called the Strategic Profit Model) as a framework for learning the lingo and for presenting the possibilities - and/or outcomes - of elevated supply chain planning and execution.

In short, this is the door we open to become welcome in the corner office, to get invited to work at a peer level with the CIO, CFO, COO, and the like in plotting strategies and operational execution.

A few supply chain professionals get this.  I've been including a DuPont Model segment in workshops for the past three years.  MY partner and I have been promoting its use since at least as early s 2007.  The Ohio State University (among others, I am sure) uses it, and other tools, in its supply chain curriculum to get budding practioners plugged in to the bigger picture.  And Larry is getting the message out to a large audience.

Some may have reservations.  The original tool dates back to the second decade of the 20th century.  But, some truths are timeless.  And, thanks to the magic of Excel, we can now play "what if" games with the model to assess all manner of options in how supply chains operate.

There is hope.  And, we will continue to promote hope as we go about winning over eager new believers, one by one.

Another Version Of The DREAM Act

By Art van Bodegraven | 09/10/2012 | 11:44 AM

In this electoral season, I've been musing about the phenomenon of a young child paying the price for the sins of the parents.  In this case, we have the living example of a couple of uncertain provenance who are permitted to vote without providing ID, and who are apparently permitted to procreate without a license.  To make matters more frustrating, English is clearly not their first language.

I refer, of course, to the family of the inexplicably popular Honey Boo Boo, whose life has been scarred beyond comprehension.  Or, certainly beyond her comprehension.  Some act.  Some dream.

But, what we are seeing is the race to the bottom.  That is, once a network or cable channel embarks on a path of cheesy reality programming, the next step is sleazy reality, and one hesitates to contemplate what happens when Honey Boo Boo discovers pole dancing.

This also illustrates the dilemma of the logistics service providers who elect, contrary to reason, to voluntarily commoditize their offerings and attendant pricing.  The next step is a lower round of commoditized pricing, and one hesitates to contemplate the ultimate outcome.

One does suspect, though, that once the decline is underway, it is too late to jump up and take the high road - at least with any credibility.  One offers the career trajectory of Britney Spears as evidence.

* * * * *

On another front, I'm hoping to get caught up with old (and new) friends at CSCMP's Annual Global Conference in Atlanta (9/28-10/3).  It looks to be another great program, and the full-day pre-conference workshops on Sunday are really worth looking into, if you can get to the ATL early enough.


LIfe On The Mississippi

By Art van Bodegraven | 09/04/2012 | 12:37 PM

As Samuel Clemens recounted his education as a river pilot, we learned about the process of determining the water's depth, and the safety (or peril) involved in the revelations of the frequent readings.  In short, a long line was marked at intervals of one fathom (six feet) to aid in interpreting depth.  The reading of "by the mark, twain" indicated the minimum safe depth (twelve feet) for riverboat movement.

Thus, we have Mark Twain, arguably the most famous nom de plume in all of literature; burying the dead at a fathom's depth on land ("six feet under"); and burial to a depth of six fathoms at sea ("deep six").

Judging by the recent news that eleven miles of the Mississippi had been closed, stranding nearly one hundred vesssels, the practice of marking depth has surely fallen into disuse.  Or, perhaps, a newer technology has replaced the beribboned line, and has failed.  Could such a thing be possible?

It seems that other factors might have alerted those shipping by water to get alternative solutions lined up.  One would think that a small Spring melt could affect water levels, and increase the possibility that rail and truck resources might come into play.  And, it has been obvious to the entire planet that large sections of the watershed involved are (and have been) suffering, drought on a near-Dust Bowl scale. 

Given those elements, prudent shippers (and carriers) ought to have had contingency plans at the ready, if they had at all studied the lessons of Yossi Sheffi's The Resilient Enterprise.  Or, if they remembered the impact of Hurricane Katrina in shutting down river traffic.

A failure to recognize - by whatever means - that Mark One was as good as it was going to get in some spots may have been Strike Three for a few supply chain practitioners.  Who loses at the end of this game?  Everybody - suppliers, customers, carriers, and downstream players in the ultimate end-to-end supply chain.

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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