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The Magpie Syndrome

By Art van Bodegraven | 11/06/2014 | 8:01 AM

We, in the supply chain management realm, are like most of our peers in other fields. We cannot resist an attraction to whatever is new and shiny, and will drop whatever we are doing to pick up the latest thing, and put it in a place of honor in our crowded nest of a lifetime's collection of marbles, coins, bits of foil, buttons, ribbons, and string.

For me, many of the can't wait to have items are somewhere in the popular music spectrum. Take, for example, Hozier. Please do; I am serious. How Ireland manages, out of its relatively tiny population, to produce a steady stream of geniuses in a variety of fields. Hozier is brilliant, musically gifted, with lyrics of depth and clarity that would shame most who think they are poets. I hope he is not a one-hit wonder; we need more of his intelligence and compelling messages.

But, if I focus on Hozier, I cannot spend much time on other worthy, perhaps even more worthy artists. In the supply chain, we find it all too convenient to get all Google-eyed over the Internet of Things, or application shifts to cloud residence. That's cool, but we also have plenty of everyday challenges that have been with us for quite a while, and either won't go away or will re-appear next year.

Here is a mere sampling of what we must deal with, and sooner rather than later. Recurring West Coast port congestion. Cost consequences of parcel carriers' shifts to dimensional weight-based pricing. The national embarrassment of decades of failure to invest in physical infrastructure maintenance. Impacts of stagnating local economies on our supply chain capacities and capabilities. Possibilities for the USPS to be brought to its knees by success in the wake of parcel volume transfers away from the Big Two carriers. Escalating prices and dwindling supplies of aleeady-scarce exotic materials. Probabilities that energy and fuel prices will not rest comfortably at current transient low levels. Labor and skills shortages that are not being addressed in comprehensive and sustainable programs. Increased competition for resources from other industries - and nations. Unstoppable wage progressions, driven by shortages, labor actions, and minimum wage pressures.

So, what's it going to be, magpie? Patching the roof or planting flowers? Shoring up a strong foundation or adding to the beer can collection?

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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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