Archives for October 2012

Are Those Cards In Your Hand The Real Deal?

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/31/2012 | 8:32 AM

Eccentric and egomaniacal gazillionaire H. Ross Perot frequently opened discussions with "here's the deal . . .".  Whether Ross was the real deal or not, he was real enough to cost George H. W. Bush re-election in 1992.  Imagine how history might have been changed without a spoiler in the race.

Mijn vrouw and I have been in non-political debate recently about who might be the real deal.  She is holding out for Bruno Mars as a once and future star; I am partial to Mumford & Sons as a group that will be with us for a while.  We agree that PSY and Gangnam style have already used up their fifteen minutes of fame.  (We also engage in political debate, but that's another story for another time, perhaps next Tuesday, or perhaps weeks later.)

For the moment, though, I am still borderline amazed by what I am finding in the universe of supply chain education and how that relates to the cards in your hand.  Are they as good as you think they are?

There are any number of hands that might look good at first, but turn out to be busted flushes.  If you have a logistics or supply chain degree, is it comprehensive, integrated, and current?  Or, is it a porridge of last weeks dinner, chopped, reheated, and renamed?

If your base of supply chain knowledge is experiential, has it kept up with current developments and the thinking that goes along with continuously changing structures and processes?

In a competitive job market, are you betting from strength, or raising as a bluff?  And, what are the costs and risks of getting found out?  Take a closer look at your hand, and think about what you need in the turn or the river to be both genuine and competitive.

Is Your Supply Chain Afflicted With Low T?

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/24/2012 | 12:29 PM

In this battleground state of all battleground states, we have been electronically waterboarded with campaign advertisements, mostly negative.  Searching desperately for relief, I scrolled through several hundred  cable channels (only six of which have much going on) until I found one with only a few with "honk if you've been stimulated" offerings from minor PACs.

The downside was that I had also found where all the Low T ads go when big money takes over the more popular venues.   The relief I had sought was short-lived, which seems to be only one of the several attributes of Low T.  One attribute of viewing the ads was that I developed some anxiety, mostly because I was not already anxious about Low T.

And this relates to supply chain managment?  Sure.  Here's how.

As nearly as I can determine from the ads, Low T is a deterrant to rising to the occasion of an unexpected demand.  Further, it seems to diminish the capacity to sustain high levels of performance.

The remedy is a magic pill that reportedly restores rapid reponse cabability, enhances the maintenance of performance levels, and may keep the enterprise in a state of high alert should a performance opportunity present itself.

Unfortunately, we may not have that magic pill to help us through supply chain challenges.

Maybe that's just as well.  Truth is, it should not take pharmaceutical intervention to develop the appearance of supply chain excellence.  And, that magic pill might not offer the right solution for the right condition.

Sustained performance (and continuous improvement) ought to be part of our organizational DNA, to be genuine and to stand the tests of time and change.  We should not, with regularity, need to respond to unexpected demand; we should anticipate, to a reasonable extent, what and when might occur and have plans in place to perform without incurring palpitations and breaking into a sweat each and every time.

And, as we have learned in the world of inventory managment, just-in-case is a costly, and often ineffective, substitute for just-in-time.

So, use the little pills if you choose.  But, I'd be inclined to cure supply chain Low T the old-fashioned way.  It's easier, less expensive, lower-stress, and more amenable to long-term successful supply chain relationships.

Or, so I am told by those who are not suffering with supply chain anxiety. 

Recycling Goes Rogue

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/16/2012 | 7:25 AM

Surprise!  In this political season I am not trying to revive the John McCain/Sarah Palin images.  Tempting as the potential might seem to be.

Actually, we would be in a bad way without recycling.  Here in beautiful downtown Ohio, we take flowing water out of a small river, clean it up a it, and send it coursing (or dribbling in a season of drought) through an amazing network of superannuated pipes.  The output is perfectly servicable, but with a taste that leads mijn vrouw to call it "crypt water".  Thus, the continued amazing sales volume of filtered water, spring water, sports drinks, and the like.

When we have finished with the water, either imported or home-grown, we clean it up all over again and put it back in the river for the downstream citizens to enjoy.

Other sensible recycling is in the works, and more is on the way, if we can use Europe as a preview of coming attractions.  Crazed as I am about the self-im,posed limitations of our local curbside recycling pickup program, it still beats throwing all of our trash into the back of the family truckster and taking it on a vacation to the nearest recycling center, wher carrying concealed is not only encouraged, but is mandatory.

But, it's all good, more or less.

Where we are going wrong is in supply chain education.  As I have looked at learning alternatives, I've discovered both hope for the future and crushing disappointment.  Some educational institutions, hoping to appear relevant and current have hopped onto the supply chain managment bandwagon.  Their curriculum approach is sometimes - and invisible to the uninitiated - to repackage old operations management material and call it "supply chain".

This is not a good application of recycling.  In fact, it is horrible - grotesquely inappropriate.  What we "learned" about inventory management in a siloed and introspective view of singular functionality is not the same as how we plan and manage inventories in a holistic, integrated, end-to-end supply chain.

As you might suspect, I could go on.  And on.  But I'll stop with that thought.  Maybe you can identify other last-century paradigms and practices that no longer make sense in an elevated view of the role and components of supply chain management.

When Traum Becomes Trauma

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/11/2012 | 8:58 AM

The eight-year old faced a relationship crisis this past week.  The love of his life was admitted to the hospital, with a temperature of 106.

Considerably sobered by the news and its implications, The Kid grew introspective, and ultimately admitted, "You know, it's just not that easy to get another girlfriend."

Once we were sure that little Ripley was going to be all right, we began to think about the wisdom of The Kid's observation in our workaday world - and of the criticality of sometimes fragile business relationships.

It makes more than good sense to treasure and protect those relationships, investing whatever it takes to make them strong and keep them going.

'Cause, you know, it's just not that easy to get another girlfriend.  Or another committed and long-term supply chain partner.

Someone Has A Boone To Pick With You

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/05/2012 | 7:46 AM

HBO, a couple of years ago, aired a quasi-documentary entitled Gasland, which startlingly presented examples of aquifers gone wrong, with affected citizens able to set their tap water alight with a kitchen match.  The culprit was the practice of "fracking" in natural gas extraction from shale, and the villains behind it all were many, led by Halliburton, no favorite of those of a liberal persuasion.  A scrupulously honest inustry executive of my acquantance privately opined that the Josh Fox effort was a "left-wing hatchet job".

The film was not a balanced portaryal of all elements of the argument, but, admittedly, one with a point of view.  Such material is sometimes called "propaganda".  That does not mean that the point of view is wrong, or that the slant is immoral, only that there is a bias.

This Tuesday past, those of us at CSCMP's Annual Global Conference got to hear T. Boone Pickens hold forth on a range of energy-related issues, fracking among them.  In general, I am interested in energy solutions and alternatives, especially as they might, either for better or for worse, affect the US's global position.  As an Ohioan, where we sit on pieces of both Marcellus and Utica shale, I am passionate about the economic potential of natural gas in replacing the jobs and incomes we have lost with a decline in manufacturing.

In the supply chain space, the idea of fracked natural gas in over-the-road trucking saving perhaps 75% of the imported oil needs current used there is attractive.  Permanent operating cost reductions in fuel costs, with a one-year payback in replacing aging diesel tracotrs with natural gas-using new gear, seems to be compelling.

Mr. Pickens was clear and powerful in extolling the safety of fracking, based on his experience with thousands of wells and his confidence in fracking on his own land, which lies over the huge Oglalla aquifer.  I suspect that my friends with the Environmental Defense Fund were less impressed.

But, here's the point.  We must be looking out for how we will heat, light, power, and transport on this planet one or two hundred years from now.  That is a given.  But, we desperately need to figure out how we are going to get from here to there.  To me, that means using everything we've got, especially from domestic sources, and not over-commiting to the future at the expense of the present.

So, what is the truth about fracking?   What does the science tell us, really?  What is the incidence of problems versus the number of no-incident cases?  What factors appear in problem cases that are absent in those that have had apparent bad environmental consequences?

We, as a nation and as global citizens need to know.  So far, frankly, Boone Pickens is more persuasive than the shrill voices of the true believers in another cause.


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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