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Ummn, Left My Wand In My Other Robes, Professor Snape . . .

By Art van Bodegraven | 06/20/2014 | 12:38 PM

Before moving on to the subject of Harry Potter and magic, a couple of explanations could be in order.  One is that this week's entry is early 'cause I'll be up my ears in education all next week.  The other is that the morning Starbucks drive-by gave me pause (as so much does, these days).

The eager young thing peeking over the tip jar at the window asked if I would like a stopper for my extra-shot venti latte.  C'mon!  What's the point?  I was obviously there for a go-er, not a stopper.

But, back to the world of curses and spells . . . I've continually maintained that supply chain management has enormous power in the affairs - the success or failure - of enterprises.  Beyond that, many companies tout, either overtly or covertly, the "special magic"  (much like a Big Mac's special sauce) that sets them apart from competitors.

But, I  must confess that there are real-world limits.  SCM cannot solve all problems, corret all deficiencies, or overcome all obstacles to the flourishing of enterprises.  Let's take, in a randomly selected and wholly fictitious example, a somewhat nationalized automobile manufacturer - call it, for convenience, the Government Motors Corporation.  This mighty and oft-revered paragon of business performance has, in a mere less-than-six-months, recalled some 20 million plus vehicles.  This is a rate some six or seven times their annual production, and significantly more than the sales total of all manufacturers in the full year of 2013.

One can't help but think of the heyday of the USSR, in which the central government sponsored and controlled the manufacture oif two basic vehicles, worse and worser.  The Gran Luxe version was the gone but not forgotten Volga, while the infamous two-banger world beater was the Lada.  No IED was required to demolish a Lada; a simple M80 or cherry bomb would prety much do the trick.

To the point, no supply chain in the world is capable of overcoming fatal management decisions egarding products, quality, market appeal, or value proposition.  Admittedly, robust reverse logistics capabilities can help esse the pain of returns, channel diversion, overstocks, and market indifference.  But, a command imperative to leave damaged goods in the market, or to promote defective (or feature-poor) products to informed markets cannot be made better by getting the wrong things to the right place faster and cheaper.

Hey, we do the best we can with what we've got, which is often astonishing and frequently ground-breaking, but there are dimensions beyond which even the very best wand from Olivander's cannot take us.

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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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