Archives for May 2016

The Future Ain't What It Used To Be

By Art van Bodegraven | 05/29/2016 | 10:18 AM

Thus spake the late Lawrence Peter Berra, poet, philosopher, and Yankee catcher without peer (Bill Dickey included). One of the things that will radically change the future is the fundamental nature of leadership. Yes, even in supply chain management.

And, the process of change is already underway. Older notions of bosses, slave drivers, martinets, commanders, managers, Type "A"s, intimidators, charismatics, and sociopaths are giving way to the more balanced, empathetic, and collaborative leaders who serve their team members, and teach them to serve customers, both internal and external.

What makes the new breed different? Here are some key characteristics.

Great leaders in the new century are passionate - and they have fun, especially when everyone else gets on the party bus to get big things done.

They, reminiscent of Tienamen Square, stand in front of the tanks, taking the heat and bearing the responsibility for outcomes, good, bad, or indifferent. They don't look for excuses to throw their people under the bus.

They play chess with the varied skills, talents, and powers of their people. In checkers, all the pieces are the same, and the lazy leader sub-optimize performance by under-using the best and brightest, while overloading the marginal performers.

Real leaders are who they are, all the time. They don't have to fudge the truth, or make impossible promises while hoping for miracles. They share information and knowledge, and hide nothing from their teams.

They can lead effectively in crisis situations. A steady hand on the tiller, a rock when storms rage all about, calm while executing a plan. Genuine leaders are not afraid or ashamed to display their humanity. Their concern for others is real, and their interactions are heartfelt. They have emotions, and express them, while suppressing runaway feelings in tough times.

The new generation of respected and effective leaders is humble. They are not better than the peons, and they are open to admitting error - and accountable to fix mistakes.

All together, we are seeing the emergence of great, and even unforgettable, leaders. Their modesty masks enormous strength of character. They create disruptive and sustainable visions, and their teams routinely accomplish results beyond any reasonable expectation in the models of the past.

Get on the party bus, boss, and make great things happen through your teams.

The 7 Habits Of Staggeringly Unsuccessful People

By Art van Bodegraven | 05/25/2016 | 7:52 AM

We've all read, or read about, Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. His principles have informed, inspired, and elevated any number of supply chain practitioners, and leaders nd functionaries throughout the business community.

It seems obvious that failing to adopt the 7 habits, or practicing their opposites, would be the profiles of the less successful. But, lifehack.org takes a different and thought-provoking tack of its own. The following outlines and expands on their 7 things that prevent success.

Procrastination: The do-it-later mindset that translates to do-it-never. Putting off is not only a thief of time, resources, health and success, it is also a crutch for those too timid to contemplate succeeding. We cite the mantra that the urgent drives out the important, then spend all of our time on the urgent, never addressing the important.

Fear of Failure: Different from fear of success, this fear stops people in their tracks at the very time they need to take both action and risks. Failure is nothing to fear; it is self-generation of teachable moments. It provides learning about what works, what doesn't, and what needs tweaking. Those crippled by fear might make the walk at Fatima, but they'll be passed by as hordes risk much to reach for miracles.

Ignorance: We might use more polite language, but those who consciously refuse lifelong learning in a daily-changing supply chain (and general business) landscape will be the unemployable when they get riffed at age 50. Meanwhile, those a decade older, or a decade younger, will be sought out in the talent hunt that is likely to dominate our operational challenges for the foreseeable future.

Lack of Purpose: What's the plan, Stan? If you do not have a plan for accomplishment, even success, by definition you have a plan for failure. You ought to have more than a vague idea of why you get up each morning, else why bother throwing off the covers? Almost every component of your life has a plan that includes and affects you - your grocer, your cable provider, your insurance company. Is that all you've got in the plan for your life?

Lack of Courage: Courage does not mean being fearless; it does mean the ability to take appropriate action in challenging circumstances. Consider L. Frank Baum's Cowardly Lion. A quivering wreck who was ready to storm the Wicked Witch's redoubt at the moment of truth. For success, fears must be set aside by a confidence that one can find ways to overcome obstacles - and achieve results. Without these, abject failure is not necessarily predetermined, but a lack of even modest success is predestined.

Fault-Finding: Criticizing, nagging, tattling, and complaining are the loser's shortcuts in the path to failure to thrive. The antidote? When something is wrong find ways to make it right. Solve problems rather than shine a light on them so that everyone sees that someone else has failed in some measure.

Lack of Self-Belief: If you cannot believe that you can succeed, you won't. Henry Ford identified the issue early: "Say you can; say you can't. Either way you'll be right." Among other examples, flight, building the Hoover Dam, travel to the moon, and long-distance radio transmission were all widely believed to be impossible. But, for the Wright brothers, NASA, Marconi, and others with self-belief these were distractions, not genuine permanent barriers. You don't have to have the iPad in mind; just believe in yourself and your dreams and objectives and you won't need much more to be a success. Waver, give up, abandon the dream, question your passion - any or all of these will mark you as unsuccessful.

Believe, succeed. Stay out of the failure traps and quicksand.

Flex Your Muscles - A Workout Tip

By Art van Bodegraven | 05/22/2016 | 9:10 AM

The Flex, I hasten to explain, is a very finely conceived Ford automobile, designed for ultimate utility and execrebly promoted. Sad, a neglected gem that deserves better, and would - with just a modicum of attention from its parent - enrich the hauling and driving lives of countless suburban moms.

But, this is about a different flex. Here's the deal, which may shock self-absorbed managers and corporate minions. A recent Forbes study has diclosed that 70% of workers would quit their jobs for more flexible work arrangements elsewhere.

Wake up! Seven out of ten employees would run like lemmings to the sea for the freedom to work flexibly. Isn't employee attraction and retention tough enough already? It's time to get real.

The forty-hour work week, chained to a desk or lashed to a jackhammer, with strict oversight to ensure that no one sloughs off, fails to keep the nose to the grindstone, or smiles on company time, is rooted in the dark Satanic mills and orphan labor of England's early romance with the Industrial Revolution. We are now in a different age, with different, smarter workers, and arguably a more engaged and committed workforce.

They are not so interested in class warfare between brute force labor and greedy bosses as they are in meaningful work and fulfilling personal lives. Over sixty per cent of workers that they are more productive working outside the office, and would prefer to break up their eight hours over a longer day - and have more time for personal activities.

The places that offer greater flexibility have become highly desirable employers, putting them ahead of the pack in attracting talent, which three-quarters of rank flexibility as their #1 top benefit. This gang might or might not drive Flexes, but definitely want flex work assignments and settings, and seem to do an overall better job of flexing their intellectual muscles when the environment either permits or encourages.

Seems to me that the supply chain community has an opening to position itself as more attractive than its general business talent competitors by becoming genuinely more flexible. What do you think?

Songs In The Key Of Life

By Art van Bodegraven | 05/18/2016 | 3:55 PM

It's something that even Stevie Wonder could, one would think, see. As we bemoan the continuing, and probably growing, shortage of talent in general business, we need to recognize that, while we focus on supply chain management, the condition is universal.

And indiscriminate - with needs in the trades, for leaders in the C-suite (and outside of conventional thinking about leaders and roles), in advanced analytics, and in pick-and-shovel transactional excution.

Particularly in analytics, as mountains of so-called Big Data rise to challenge the urban landfills of Mount Trashmores across the country, we should be concerned about how to leaven the raw intelligence of fresh-faced analysts with enough life experience to make their observations, conclusions, and teased-out hints of future developments more than idle speculations or grossly out-of-touch hypotheses.

Perhaps this condition illustrates a good way to capitalize on the experiences of Baby Boomers by teaming them with bright and curious Millennials. One may hope so, and further hope that such a blend would help to keep corporations out of blind alleys.

They Also Serve . . .

By Art van Bodegraven | 05/15/2016 | 9:14 AM

Military veterans in, on the way to, and returning from hazardous duty are receiving considerable, and deserved, attention. As more everyday citizens recognize the criticality of the battle against elements of radical Islamic terrorism and combat, our society is not hesitant to express thanks. And appreciation for sacrifice - and service.

It's a far cry from the disdain in which Viet Nam vets were received on the home front, the nobility of stopping the Axis powers in their Satanic tracks in both Europe and Asia, dealing along the way with home-grown national socialist mobs of latents and thugs beyond Germany and Japan, having receded into either memory or repression.

We have challenges in doing the right things for returned veterans today - employment, physical damage, PTSD, to name but a few. Some corporations have organized, internally and externally, to do good. The retailers who have initiated benefits have typically begun with discounts on a specific day or days. Active duty military have been the general focus.

Lowe's has gone several steps farther. From a discount on Veterans' day, to discounts every day, from active duty to retirees, then to anyone who served honorably in any role in any theater at any time - we all get a discount. I say, "Well-deserved, and well-done".

As an honorably discharged volunteer of an era between shooting wars, but with an exciting and rewarding role that made a difference, I'll go out of my way. One, to get the discount; two, to reward Lowe's for its loyalty to all those who have served.

Think about the application of a core principle to our professional roles. When we accomplish something of value, or a step better than before, that makes a difference for our company or our customers, the entire organization, and all the players in the game, merit recognition, reward, and recognition.

Do you suppose that such an inclusive environment might make associates go out of their ways to reciprocate loyalty?


Note: Application of policy varies among individual stores.

Defying Gravity

By Art van Bodegraven | 05/11/2016 | 9:07 AM

The under-rated Broadway musical, Wicked, features this beautiful anthem which promises that a witch can rise to incredible heights, and that no wizard can hold her down. I'll suggest that every supply chain professional could benefit from adopting that attitude.

From considering mastering the range of skills needed to rise above expectations. From applying extraordinary efforts to accomplish objectives. From walking the walk, demonstrating with authenticity leadership behaviors that distinguish leaders of the pack from the also-rans.

Some people evolve into high - and high-performance - positions, surprising all who quietly took them for granted. Others must consciously pursue uncommon levels of excellence. Most of us are not naturals, and have to get organized, plan, and work like mules for hire to reach higher than nature might have intended.

But, we can do it! We can defy gravity.

But, not if we simply show up on time each day and shuffle however many papers are in the pile on the desk. Elevation beyond self-imposed serfdom, self-limiting stagnation, requires vision, stamina, creativity, creativity, and accomplishment.

Given those, no wizard, particularly one twirling dials behind a curtain, can hold any one of us down.

The Pro From Dover

By Art van Bodegraven | 05/08/2016 | 6:59 AM

The time-worn appellation has roots in an old manufacturing joke, but there is no substitute for the day-in-day-out rock-solid practitioner.  The Pro from Dover is the expert from out of town who gets things right when the local lads prove to not be up to the task at hand.

Take as an example, and a very fine one at that, a handsome redhead with lines of gentle care and endless caring, a guitar - acoustic, the real deal, and a wary, weary readiness to take on the next gig.  For the pro, for the consummate, for the soul called to lay her heart out for all to see, for Bonnie Raitt, the venue is of no concern.  A saloon, a concert hall, an amphitheater - it makes no difference.  She has come to entertain us, unworthy as we might be, with her authentic self, in control of an open mike.

Taking our cues from the pro, it doesn't matter whether our customer is trailer trash, a camper cutie, a zaftig momma, a retail outlet, or a mega-billion dollar big box operation, the order must get picked, packed, and shipped - complete and on-time.

We don't sweat; we don't panic; we just do our jobs.  We put everything we've got into doing them well - and right.  And, we do them to make the enterprise better and stronger, as well as make the paying customers happy.

That is, we do if we are the pros from Dover.



You're In Good Hands . . .

By Art van Bodegraven | 05/04/2016 | 8:42 AM

Judging by the electronic and hard copy media, if one changes insurance providers often enough, they'll be paying you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.  Admittedly, the terms of how much you'll save by switching carriers gets a little murky.

Some of the differential reflects quirks in coverage boundaries, some hints that you might not have updated details in some years, some may rely on the elimination of un-necessary coverage amounts or increases in deductibles, ands some could hint that service and payouts are squeezed very carefully.

Enjoy the lower monthly premium while you can.  The day of judgment is when you and a claim go mano a mano in the wake of a fire, tornado, distracted driver, or sleepwalking while firing up a doobie.

Feel free to text me immediately if Flo or a gecko (or Aaron Rogers) shows up with a fire hose, a broom, or a check; in fact, I'll take odds on that chance right now.  The real heroes in such emergencies tend to be less flamboyant and more helpful.  Suddenly, the "extra" ten bucks a month looks like chicken feed, and wisely prescient.

I relate all this in the aftermath of Allstate's handling of the interesting fire at my home a week ago.  But, we have parallels in our workaday world, as well.

We continue to learn, and promptly forget, that cost is not value, that a penny saved is too often a penny that should have been spent to protect a dollar.  That a seasoned professional's excessive salary is a low cost bonus when compared with a rookie's dime-a-dozen bargain wage.  That the cost of making things right for a customer is a price of customer retention that pays for itself over and over again.

So, take your chances with Flo and cutting corners on cost if you feel you must.  But, don't look for the gecko to do any heavy lifting (or a genie from the imagination of the folks at Disney) when the order has to get picked, packed, and shipped for the key customer now!

Or, invest in quality, reliability, and capability - whether on the job, or protecting your personal property.

Beware! Vicious Guard Cat!

By Art van Bodegraven | 05/01/2016 | 10:14 AM

Some variations in the human condition are deeper than we think, and less subject to modification, perhaps. As we have struggled the past week, recovering from a house fire, there have been many opportunities for different styles and thought patterns to manifest themselves.

At one moment of creative tension, min vrouw asked pointedly, "Why can't you, just this once, think through the alternatives logically?" The penny dropped, and she quietly remarked, "Never mind; it's like asking a cat to bark."

So, we survived the missed-by-a-mile failure of great minds to meet at the intersection of Reason Street and Action Avenue. Do you encounter such mismatches at work?

Are there certain people who just never think through. Courses of action that defy logic, or circle the objective without hitting the mark? Are they hopeless, needing only to be given a little leather to chew on while they take their places on the next outbound ice floe?

Reality check! You can't sweet talk, cajole, intimidate, or retrain some people into adopting behaviors that conflict deeply with their core beings. Sure, everyone deserves a fair shot at learning more about what behaviors and styles are expected, or preferred, in a given organization. They've earned a serious try at adding a useful club to the bag, and some will, in fact become more flexible and multi-talented.

But many others won't. So, it's up to you to figure out how to - not suffer through carrying a load of square pegs and round holes, but - find roles that better match their essential personas. Or, help them find other enterprise that can tolerate, or even treasure their special outlooks and gifts.


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.


Popular Tags

Subscribe to DC Velocity

Subscribe to DC Velocity Start your FREE subscription to DC Velocity!

Subscribe to DC Velocity
Go digital