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Ask The Fox How Things Are In the Henhouse — What!?!?

By Art van Bodegraven | 08/24/2016 | 7:33 AM

The fox has a vested interest in spinning reality to keep the food supply plentiful. The chickens' squawking sounds more or less normal. (Political inferences should not be drawn from the example.)

But, our trade press has a couple of distressing tendencies. One is to conduct and publish egregiously unscientific surveys under the guise of presenting the views of the profession's insiders, the power brokers who actually run things. Ergo, an endless tide of random pieces purporting to reveal the rare insights of random groups of executives and managers in the field.

One such puff piece within the past year lamented the shortcomings of working staff, who, opined self-nominated "leaders", were plenty in number, but lacked critical skills and understanding in enterprise performance — the context of their work. To which I say, "Bushwah!"

We don't have enough numbers, period. Critical functional skills are in desperately short supply. True, the workforce lacks a worldview that positions their efforts, and financial literacy has been lost to the ages.

To the extent that the workforce needs knowledge and upgrades, whose responsibility is it to deliver the goods in that department? Corporations are skimping. And constraining their people by largely failing to do so. Universities can provide a starter kit, but things change, evolve, shift gears, grow obsolete, and get replaced by technology and other disruption. So, whose job is handling change and upgrade?

Here's my real fear. The survey respondents have no real clue what their people know, and need to know. What they've learned that's salvageable, and what needs to be built on that foundation. Who has the potential, and who doesn't know where the hot dogs are, let alone how to cut the mustard.

But, they do know — and share endlessly — the anecdotes and half-truths that permeate gin-soaked debates about what's wrong in business today. Now for a radical challenge.

How about asking a carefully selected relevant active group of employees what's right, what's wrong, what's needed, who's got it (and who doesn't), and what it will take for individuals and the company to succeed in the future? Then, if they are still standing, let the bosses in on what has been learned that they need to do something about.

Yeah, that's the ticket. Ask the hens how the foxes are doing. You might get closer to the truth — and to taking a step toward goodness.

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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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