Archives for January 2015

I'm Decommitting From Eastern Pony Keg College And Flipping To Bookworm U

By Art van Bodegraven | 01/30/2015 | 12:49 PM


Another awkward piece of timing, with the regular blog scheduled and news breaking left and right.  We are nearing, depending on your outlook, either the apex or the nadir of college football's silliest season, recruiting and National Letter of Intent Signing Day.  Much grumbling is roiling the repose of the traditionalists, who decry the escalation of committing to one school, decommitting, and/or "flipping" to a competing football factory.

I am not as agitated as some, and actually think that reneging on the first promise or two is a healthy thing for both the schools and the young warriors involved. Face it, these are by and large not sophisticated young men, often operating with limited familial guidance.  To be wooed by a media star coach from a legendary athletic program is a heady thing, and it is easy to think first about impressing one's posse and not much at all about life after a few concussions.

Committing, then altering that commitment means, in the better case, that there has been time to think through objectives, probabilities, and prospects - and to weigh relevant events taking place between original commitment and Signing Day.  Things such as coaching changes, other recruits, injuries, the reality and price to pay of making the NFL and staying there, and how to make a living beyond being a casino greeter, club bouncer, or used car salesman.

The media hype and general adulation only add to the pressure of making a good decision.  And, enhance the possibility that the first call is not necessarily the right call.  I personally think the timeline is about right, allowing thoughtful reflection, and a do-over on where to go to school - and why.  The early signing advocated by the SEC would make the problem worse, imho, by forcing shotgun weddings onto large children who deserve better.

To further confound the issue, the universities involved are betting the big chips and rolling the dice with their eyes closed - they have much to lose from wrong commitments from easily won-over  targets who turn out to not quite fit, and/or are not quite as good as the looked to be in high school.  Here's the progression: In high school, the prized recruits are men among boys; in college they may be found out to be simply men among other men; in the NFL, they reveal themselves to be men among supermen.  The history is replete with examples.

We encounter parallels in going after top-tier talent in the world of supply chain management.  Our greatest handicap may be that we do not have the luxury of game videos from high school or college to break down, assess, and interpret.  So we wind up with a few duds, or too many merely adequate performers.

Our talent targets also face the wrong commitment challenge.  They generally don't know what they really want to do, or become.  They may not appreciate the context of how they can advance or retard enterprise performance.  So, the first commitment is often quickly followed by decommitment as they begin to figure out what their world can and should be.  There is often a second decommitment, as the search for the right slot in the right program continues.

We usually, and should not, come to negative conclusions because of these career shifts.  (We may begin to ask difficult questions after five or six quick moves, though.)

But, all of this is really intended to motivate you to think through how you look for, and at, prospective incoming talent.  What's the fit?  How positive is the admittedly incomplete evidence of performance and potential?  Do you actually have what it takes to hold on to the new talent?  Can you provide an attractive and rewarding developmental pathway for mutual benefit?  Does the candidate fill a gap, shore up a weak point, or add depth where you are already strong?

Hmmm, the more I rattle on, the more it sounds as if supply chain management and college football have something to learn from one another when it comes to handling the recruiting challenge.  Myself, I'll be up late on Wednesday evening, analyzing and agonizing over the day's results, and wondering what will be who's payoff where.

Come Out of Hiding, Or We'll Come In And Get You

By Art van Bodegraven | 01/28/2015 | 11:22 AM

This is really about the ultimate quality of leadership, the make-or-break differentiator between pretenders and contenders.

Books - too many - have been written about leadership styles, tactics, and techniques.  I've concluded that some of the insights are interesting, even useful, but pale in the end when it come to what makes a real leader.

There are, depending on who you read (and who you believe), four fundamental ledership styles.  Many deep thinkers posit that it is a leader's job to adopt different styles for different situations.  I'm will to grant that some tweaking can be important in dealing with individuals in secific circumstances.  But, adopting completely different styles?  How about if we recommend that leopards take on stripes rather than spots?  Or that zebras shed the stripes when leaving the savannah, in favor of camo mottling?

Crazy, huh?  Well, a leader needs to be true to his or her core self - and style.  No one will very long trust anyone who can change faces at the drop of a challenge, a rising confrontation, or a performance slide.  What the real leader needs to do, irrespective of style, is be visible.

Woody Allen has been quoted (or misquoted) as saying, "Half of life is just showing up."  For leaders, I think it is more than half.  Effective leaders show up.  All the time.  They are visible and engaged.

Whether you like their styles or not, they gain credibility by simply being there.  By asking how things are, what you need to succeed, where we are against plans and targets.  Emails cannot substitute for hands-on.  Stern messages delivered through lackeys tend to get blown off.

That's the big reveal.  Visibility, consistency, engagement, taking the temperature of the room - these all translate to authenticity in the role.  Whether the leader is a visionary, a by-the-book serial processor, a no-nonsense git 'er done type, or a high-trust team-builder doesn't matter nearly as much as being seen, manning the barricades, leading the charge, confounding the enemy, and being reliably yhr=e same prson today as yesterday.

It Takes Three To Tango?

By Art van Bodegraven | 01/21/2015 | 1:09 PM

Used to require only two, but times change. The Kid is back, and this time has something to learn instead of to teach. But, his experience may contain a lesson for us all.

In his tangled affairs of the heart, little Ripley has fallen out of favor. The temptress Libby has pulled ahead in the race for his affections. Unfortunately, The Kid attempted to seal the deal while the three of them shared a seat on their school bus. Ripley was not amused. So, an uncomfortable ménage a trois has all around the principals in this drama treading gently.

Despite the awkwardness, there is a bright side. One, Ripley is now aware that the ice on her end of the lake will no longer support a fishing shack and space heater. Two, she knows that she's got to up her game if she wants to be around at the final whistle.

The Kid has inadvertantly put himself in a risk mitigation position, with a primary key relationship and a back-up. The back-up can move to the fore if the primary loses interest, changes its focus, loses currency and relevance in skills and talent, or becomes less desirable for any number of reasons. Meanwhile, Libby has greater visibility, may get a piece if the action, and is positioned to take a lead relationship role.

Painful as things might be at the moment, The Kid's social blunder has created a win-win environment. Come to think of it, doesn't this lesson apply in supply chains, too? Consider how valuable it could be in SCM relationships with suppliers and service providers if we all had a Ripley and a Libby in key situations.

Emotional Intelligence Is Not Just For Drama Queens

By Art van Bodegraven | 01/16/2015 | 11:45 AM

It appears that the business press has rediscovered emotional intelligence. The topic went dormant following breakthough books a few years ago. Oh, well, as we so often see, in SCM what's old is new again.

Forbes published a piece a couple of weeks ago that clearly concluded that high emotional intelligence (EI) is the strongest predictor of job success, with 90% of top performers also high in EI. Further, the high EI crowd was said to, in a direct link, make more money, about $1,300 annually per every point increase in EI.

Curiously, just a week earlier, a research report concluded unequivocally that high EI individuals peaked out at high supervisory and mid-management positions, with declines in EI at successive steps up the organizational ladder. CEOs were reported to be the lowest EI ranks in hierarchies.

An anomaly? Hogwash? A dichotomy with an explanation? Who knows? Certainly not the deep thinkers with a bag full of preconceived notions out in search of data to support something that might get published, bringing fame, fortune, or fifteen minutes of notoriety.

The Forbes article correctly posits that EI is different from IQ. Great catch, Sherlock! It also notes that "personality", which I take to mean style and preference in the Myers-Briggs or Herrmann (or DiSC, or whatever models) is hardwired and separate from EI. Correctomundo on the hardwired, not so much on the separateness.

EI is, my opinion, closely related to the mix if hardwired style/preference components. We can learn to dial it up or down as needed and within limits; we can't independently learn and exercise it if it is not in the original hardwiring in the beginning. My best guess is that CEOs of given styles tend to gravitate toward those roles, and do not have the EI that one might hope. Additionally, results-driven boards and financial analysts tend to encourage and reward corporations for placing lower EI individuals in top slots.

Is there a price to pay in the long run? Of course there is, but we remain driven by the short-term in business today. I raise the issue because of the enormous need in supply chain management for high EI leaders and doers. We have an incredible span of roles and tyoes to deal with, internally and externally - perhaps more than in any other enterprise function.

EI is one more vital tool in the kit bag, and we are either born with it or not. Understanding what EI is, and what it is not, and getting comfortable in knowing the strengths and limitations of our individual preferences and those of others is critical to personal success and to enterprise performance in SCM.

The Zombies Rise, And They Are Armed

By Art van Bodegraven | 01/09/2015 | 6:49 AM

The timing is awkward. The latest blog published on schedule, shortly after the horrendous news from Paris broke. The subject is too important to wait, and deserves more than a footnote appendended to an unrelated blog.

My opinion is that all of us who scribble or draw, even occasionally, have a responsibility to stand and be counted at this moment. We, perhaps too often, take for granted that we have complete freedom.

We can use our bully pulpits (thank you, DC Velocity) to make a point - or merely raise a question. We may amuse (or try to), or be mind-numbingly serious. We are permitted to risk offending both the innocent and the complicit. We can actually choose to offend, either for the sake of offending or to make a greater point.  We are free to be wrong; we have the latitude to change our minds.  We are - get this - even encouraged to let our opinions and conclusions evolve over time - or overnight. 

We may (and have a duty to) be critical of those who fail us - individuals, corporations, associations, governments. Sometimes in this space, the criticisms relate to supply chain management or logistics. But, they may also go after general business issues, or over-arching life considerations.

In Paris a couple of days ago, unenlightened and uneducated, alienated religious extremists massacred the staff of a satirical journal in the name of a concept they do not understand. It would be too easy to strike back with accurate, but mean-spirited, invective; they make attractive targets.

But, this is not the venue in which to do so. (I will use another platform for that venting and railing.) For now, we must celebrate our freedoms and mourn that animals among us can heartlessly turn our chldren into orphans and our spouses into grieving widows and widowers.

Je suis Charlie Hebdo.

Proof Positive Of Reincarnation

By Art van Bodegraven | 01/07/2015 | 12:03 PM

Dude (and dudettes), you've got to listen to Kat Edmonson.  Not just the music, which is haunting.  Not just the lyrics, which will let your mind roam free.  But the voice, too, a relic of another age, an echo of another body, the essence of another soul.

Kat was someone else, and something else, in a past life.  Her experiences are from another being, in another time, and resident in another place.  And well worth your time in getting inside her head and into her spirit.

Many, perhaps most, beliefs in reincarnation see the reappearance of an old soul in a new body as a fate imposed by past behaviors.  I see finding oneself in an unfamiiar place with a new identity, but carrying the baggage of who knows how many previous appearances in the greater universe, as a choice - a determined reinvention of self, with a more enlightened perspective about next steps and next stops, and pathways to choose among for the next leg of the journey.

So we, like Kat, appear and reappear, delivering the new while carrying traces of the old.

Our challenge, individually and in the collective, is to select a path, choose practices and positions, and target intermediate and ultimate destinations.  The New Year is as good a time as any to set this new course.  And, the choices can't be put off forever.

What will your choices be for 2015 and beyond?  What targets will you set?  What practices will you adopt, or try to?

What do you want to be as you continue to grow?  How will enlightenment change where you are going and how you plan to get there?

Finally, where will you be if you elect to not make the choices that the journey of many lives demands?

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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