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Sondheim In The Supply Chain

By Art van Bodegraven | 05/28/2014 | 9:03 AM

There are days when we want to beg Stephen to not send in any more clowns.  We seem to have plenty of them to go 'round.  Some want to go back to the good ol' days of functional definition (and limitation) before the gol-durn academics decided to rename  what we did day-to-day the brand new hoity-toity field of Logistics. 

Of course, that put us on the slippery slope to the artsy atmosphere of Supply Chain Management.  To some Ringling Brothers rejects, that has become the ultimate in a semantic exercise to call the honest work we have always done, such as traffic management, purchasing, and warehousing, by a fancy euphemism, much like calling janitors sanitary engineers.

Compounding the challenge, many organizations have become infested with people who are not doing the job, whatever the title, in favor of cutting corners, ignoring process disciplines, fudging the numbers, nodding off during training, rejecting continuing education and skills upgrades, and goofing off in general.

What to do if you find yourself in an environment of red rubber noses, oversize shoes, and outageous makeup?  The good news is that, even if you are surrounded by clowns, you are not required to join the circus.  Unless, of course, your career aspirations are limited to slapstick.

Any culture that tolerates slackers, pretenders, under-acheivers, or other non-combatants is toxic by definition.  Your best course is to run like the wind to a place that values itself and its people more.   Today's paycheck simply isn't worth tomorrow's realization that life is short and you have nowhere to go but downhill.  Of course, do be sure to have the landing spot prepared for when you jump.

For those places operating as if the last century was the last word in business advancement, you have a couple of choices, depending on the prevailing culture and your relationships with senior management.  One is to take on assignments and special projects in which you: 1) have control, and 2) can demonstrate the power and efficacy of contemporary concepts and practices.  A couple of wins could put you on a fast track.  You may lose the friendship of adamant old-school adherents, but you might also gain followers who see the light.

But, if corporate leadership is not ready to turn you loose for the greater good, the entire enterprise is in jeopardy, and your obligation (to yourself and to your family) is to turn yourself loose, and find more fertile ground in which to grow.

Whatever your options turn out to be, do not succumb and commence squirting seltzer at your compatriots.  

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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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