Archives for March 2013

Take Off The Blinders, Dobbin; It's Time To Head To The Barn

By Art van Bodegraven | 03/27/2013 | 7:42 AM

At the known risk of being repetitive, I'm going to softly remind our gentle readers that over-focus on using supply chain management practices to - cheeering up the CFO, no doubt - drive costs doesn't even qualify as short-sighted, and is probably damaging for a longer time than we might imagine.

We continue to look at isolated pieces of the supply chain cost and investment equation as if they have meaning in a vacuum, when we ought to be training ourselves and our associates in the bigger - and much more satisfying - picture of how enlightened supply chain management creates high-performing business enterprises.

It is beyond time to identify new, and more challanging, performance horizons, and adjust, no, completely restructure our visions of hw to reach them. 

In short, it's time to grow up, wise up, and start making three-pointers, and stop going for the easy points in the paint, to put an NCAA spin on things.

Yellow Hair Bites The Dust, And Other Cautionary Tales

By Art van Bodegraven | 03/21/2013 | 7:12 AM

In the days of the American Old West, a class of experienced guidesto the new territories emerged.  The good ones could be identified by their ability to pull arrows out of their backs and live to tell the story.  It became customary for settlers, wagon trains, and military units to employ these experience-scarred aides on treks and sorties.

A Civil War officer seeking glory on a new front  cut a dashing figure and was the beau of whatever ball was on the social calendar.  He also finished last in his class at West Point.  Perhaps his guide was deficient, in that only victorious native Americans survived Custer's Last Stand at the Little Bighorn.

Later in our military history, WWII hero Douglas Macarthur decided that his intelligence was better than the USArmy's, and denied the presence of Chinese troops in North Korea.  Surprise!  We very nearly got run off the peninsula and into the ocean.  Today, historians remember the military brilliance that landed a counter-invasion at Inchon.  Of course, MacArthur had the advantages of reinforcements and finishing considerably better than the bottom of his West Point class going for him.

I have often promoted going for the gold and grabbing for the brass ring in supply chain projects, but it has been dismaying at how often major projects fail spectacularly in our field.  I'll sugggest a couple of things. 

The first is to understand one's own limitations, and enlist help - an experienced guide - for help in crossing over hostile territory.  The other is to be savvy about assessing the competence of the selected guide.  Hubris is not a companion on the road to success, in the long haul.

Social Media, Self-Abuse, And Annoying The Multitudes

By Art van Bodegraven | 03/15/2013 | 7:46 AM

Really grumpy today, possibly the downside of saving money by investing in cheap gin.  But, it may be time to take up arms and make a stand.  The core query is, who has the time to go back and forth in mindless debate in ostensibly business-related social media fora (or forums, if you prefer)?

I have been suckered into a few of these generally pointless exercises with the noble intention of informing the masses.  From this point forward, I will leave the Masses to church hierarchy - especially with a new guy in charge.

Actually, I get the value of friends and family communications on sites such as Facebook.  I am marginally less interested in a new baking technique that takes Pinterest by storm.  And, I have no patience with business discussion groups that have all the content of The Cartoon Network.  Sponge Bob Square Pants  talks Logistics - what a concept!

The content of these make-believe high-level information exchanges takes a limited number of forms: 1) really inane questions from people one would think already knew better, issues such as Is the cloud falling on our heads, or How big is big data; 2) abstract, idealized, and pretentious discussions of practical considerations, such as Does outsourcing really work, or What are the global market implications of general reshoring; 3) positioning a question so that one's software product is the obvious answer; 4) blatantly seeking employment; and 5) more straightforwardly promoting specific job placement or general search services.

In short, seeking free advice (which is worth even less than the cost), using free PR and promotion, which is a sure sign of either ignorance or desperation (or both), or short-cutting modern practices in job hunting and employment caandidate acquisition.

As if we all had time to consider existing content, there is also a cadre of folks who apparently think that we have nothing to do, or think about, unless they place material written by others in our paths, claiming that each article is important, thought-provoking, a rare insight, or a breakthrough in 21st-century perspectives.

I am  not simple enough to believe that all this nonsense will evaporate overnight, or disappear forever, but I would like to beg a few days off  - just a little respite from the avalanche of goofiness, annoyance, and evidence of over-education and under-experience that informs way too many  supply chain practitioners.

Can we do this?  Volunteer to  not leave home without a minder?  Skip a commentary that might be taken as evidence of a genetic flaw?


Taking A Big Stick To Coventional Wisdom - With Both Hands

By Art van Bodegraven | 03/10/2013 | 8:24 AM

Late again this week, thanks to a gang of specialists rummaging about in my underdrawers.  Luckily, as if my small clothes were not amusing enough, the grandchilden keep us entertained every single day.

The Kid's older sister, known locally in some circles as "little girl, big pipes", was determined to deliver Les Miz' On My Own for her Middle School Winter Musicale.  Her vocal coach was outraged: "Absolutely not!  Inappropriate!  Too mature!  Too demanding! Beyond her capabiities!  Embarrassing if it doesn't work!  Overshadows all the work of her classmates!"

Strong-willed, as well as talented, she did the song anyway.  Knocked it out of the park, eliciting roars of amazed appreciation from the sudience.  Made grown men cry, and their daughters reconsider career directions.

The point is this.  Don't be afraid to break the rules, to attempt what others fear to try.  If you are confident in your abilities, and bring on your "A" game, there is every chance that you'll be able to get those same roars of appreciation.  In our supply chain world, the roars will come from the CEO and CFO.  And, you'll get a shot at an encore, often with even  more at stake. 

In Les Miserables,the song is, in many ways, Eponine's redemption in our hearts.  In business, pulling off its equivalent confers a redemption of its own.

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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