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Horrible Deaths In Supply Chain Management

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/10/2014 | 8:36 AM

Those whose heads are elsewhere might think immediately of music when someone mentions Trampled By Turtles. They would be correct, and this very fine band's new release, Wild Animals, is well worth taking a listen.

In our workaday world, though, a supply chain leader's demise is more likely to come at the feet of a horde of hard-shelled amphibians than from the sudden onslaught of a rampaging bull elephant. Sure, the unplanned-for flood can put someone out of business, as can a random lightning strike on an unprotected facility.

The more likely scenario, though, is one of incessant and unrelenting trampling of little feet, ultimately resulting in madness and career flight, or an agonizing descent into apathy and and arrested personal growth. Face it, we are confronted with a myriad of little things that go wrong, or take precedence over plans and what we thought were reasonable priorities.

We face far more trucks that are late than we do container ships that sink. The scheduled workforce will show up, but maybe not in quite the numbers we need. Suppliers will ship the right number of products, but perhaps not in the colors, sizes, flavors, or assortment that we ordered. Or, demand profiles might have shifted, and the once-appropriate order no longer meets what the market demands.

Perhaps the budget we were given to start the year is "no longer operative", as politicians like to say - and we can't commit to the technology upgrade that will allow us to meet throughput targets (which, curiously, are still operative).

Our best engineer has been re-asigned to a, in someone's mind, higher priority project. We can't work on continuous improvement initiatives because staff resources are running a year behind on the corporate ERP implementation. And on and on . . .

It is a death by a thousand cuts; it is being trampled by turtles. When an organization is headed by a real leader, though, that leader understands how to divert the turtles' attentions. When the boss is not a leader, the turtles are likely to feel empowered, though.

You've got choices. Find a workplace with a low tolerance for turtles. Take the lead in fighting off the turtles where you are. Or, put in the earbuds and ignore the pitter-patter of thousands of little feet.

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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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