Archives for September 2016

Heavens To Betsy!

By Art van Bodegraven | 09/28/2016 | 6:48 AM

A year or two ago, we contemplated a Philadelphia excursion, promoting it to La Diva and The Kid as an adventure, in which we could see the Liberty Bell, Constitution Hall, etc., and Betsy Ross's house. Plus eat like it was a Death Row Last Meal.

La Diva jumped to her feet, interrupting with, "Wait a minute! Do you mean THE Betsy Ross?" Yep, flag-making and all. A tear slipped out the corner of her eye.

We subsequently made the trip, without The Kid and La Diva, both of whom had show biz and athletic conflicts. And, yes, it all brought a tear to our eyes, as well.

In our noble profession, we are beyond fortunate in, despite several tragic losses, having our founding fathers (and mothers) still among us. I'd encourage you to meet, connect, and/or read the writings of the academics, consultants, and practitioners who were more or less present at the creation. You might be shocked at how current - even ahead of the wave - their current work is.

Have fun. This gang has some war stories that will make your socks roll up and down. And most of them are ready to once more join in the fray, and march, carrying a radical flag before them.

Don't Drink That Kool-Ade!

By Art van Bodegraven | 09/21/2016 | 7:45 AM

Well, maybe it'd be OK to just sip a bit of it. This particular refreshment is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which has been newly rediscovered by Forbes Daily in an article obviously developed by a true believer. The writer's premise is, essentially, that a therapeutic dose of MBTI will cure most any corporate ailment in the realms of leadership, team-building, communications, motivation, and outcomes.

The positioning reflects a disturbing tendency of perfectly valid and useful tools attracting cult-like devotion and adherency. The facts are that, simplistic as MBTI is, even though soundly rooted in Jungian psychology, there are any number of equally simplistic tools positioned as temperament sorters or personality assessments that deliver comparable results, none of which are cure-alls.

Imho, the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) presents a more balanced, complex, and nuanced assessment of types and styles, reflecting a Shakespearean perspective a la Julius Caesar as a person of "many parts". HBDI was identifying ambiverts decades before the term entered the lexicon, for example. But, mastery of several tools is really required for optimal organizational results.

Understanding of personality is important. And, such tools as the DiSC model focus on leadership and communications. FIRO-B (which predates MBTI) is essential for effective team constructs. And, in a much-neglected arena, the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument is a definitive guide to conflict management styles and alternatives.

I could go on . . .

In short, the challenges are greater and more complex than single simplistic solutions. The tool kit needs more than a screwdriver to fix stuff in organizations.

The Hidden Secret To Hiring Superstars

By Art van Bodegraven | 09/18/2016 | 8:44 AM

Maybe this story is apocryphal; maybe not. A consulting team descends upon an unsuspecting Cape Kennedy (nee Canaveral), and, not knowing what else to do until their well-coiffed but otherwise clueless Manager deciphers directions, commences interviewing.

The first genius-in-training finds a custodial functionary (aka, a janitor) and asks what he does. The answer? "I sweep, mop, vacuum, and Swiffer the floors to keep them sparkling clean." Sound enough, if not exciting.

The second, seeking a breakthough that will shatter a glass ceiling, asks another custodian essentially the same question. The response? "I do whatever it takes to make these old floors positively gleam, and amaze the many important visitors who pass through these halls." Better, one supposes, with a focus on customers and constituencies.

A third recent top 10% graduate of a prestigious university repeats the process with yet another dude pushing a cleaning cart. His view? "I'm part of the team that is sending a mission to Mars - and back - to lay a foundation for our space program's renaissance!"

I don't know about you, but I want the Man From Mars on my team. And, I want to encourage him to look into night school. There is more in his future than wringing out the mops.

So, as you look to fill an execution job, you might encounter one candidate who prides him-or-herself on getting the job done by the end of the day, and another who is single-minded about hitting the numbers - throughput, orders picked, error-free transactions, on-time shipment, whatever.  Run like the wind from the candidate whose awards are only for perfect attendance. 

Keep your eyes open for the applicant who can express aims, ambitions, and sense of mission in terms of customer satisfaction, customer retention, organic business growth, contributions to profitability, or enterprise success.

There's your Man From Mars; don't let her get away.

Meanwhile, Back In Marysville

By Art van Bodegraven | 09/14/2016 | 2:16 PM

And goings-on in Central Ohio. Honda's US operations are centered in and around Marysville, Ohio - their tip of the spear in the US.

Their assembly plant there manufactures only two models, admittedly hot sellers. The 4 million sft operation employs almost 4,500 associates (each and all clad in white) and can produce 440,000 vehicles a year.

Their green results are staggering. In Ohio, alone, over 95% of waste material is recycled, and 90% of Honda vehicles are recyclable. Less than 1% of waste goes to landfills.

There's more. ENERGY STAR certification for plants, Gold-level Award from EPA, a targeted 30% CO2 reduction, wind power energy in one plant.

It's amazing, gratifying, and instructional to see what happens when Rethink drives Reduce-Reuse-Recycle.

It's even more energizing and elevating to consider how Rethink might transform supply chain planning and execution over time.

I'm Still Here

By Art van Bodegraven | 09/11/2016 | 8:59 AM

Perhaps you are weary of hearing my story, but here it comes again. We've just passed the 8th anniversary of my diagnosis and cure of pancreatic cancer.

Peeking through the transom of Death's Door, the 5-year survival rate for this version of the Great Satan is about 5%. Over the next 5 years, one-third of the survivors die.

A typical scenario is death following diagnosis by a few weeks or a few months; the two year survivors are generally hanging on for the inevitable.

The Gold Standard of treatment is a Whipple Procedure, a radical surgery, roughly equivalent to an organ transplant in complexity and time on the table. Maybe 15% of cases are remotely eligible, with one approach being to treat with radiation and/or chemotherapy to shrink the tumor to a more manageable size. That tactic is frequently disappointing.

The Whipple is about 80 years old, and has been tweaked, but remains pretty much as originally designed. Other treatments have delivered only very modest gains in length and quality of survival. Pancreatic cancer is the 10th-most diagnosed cancer, and the 4th-deadliest in mortality (trending to reach #2 within the next very few years).

But, I'm still here -and will be for quite a while. You see, I am not a survivor; I am a conqueror. I am, and have been cured, which provides a nearly unique perspective.

As a society, as a health-care system, as a government, we all continue to fail miserably in organizing and funding research to make serious progress against this disease.

Maybe there are parochial institutional silos that prevent effective collaboration. Maybe there aren't enough survivors and grieving widows to energize a rising comparable with the Susan Komen events. Maybe there aren't enough votes involved to get NIH/CDC funding, planning, coordination, and evaluation through Congress.

Whatever, the state of affairs is a national shame, made more painful when precious money escapes the notice of TEA party activists and goes to expanding parking spaces of government employees.

Engagement Has A Way Of Turning To Marriage

By Art van Bodegraven | 09/07/2016 | 1:35 PM

Those of us who natter on - and on - about how leaders behave, and what employees find that leads them to increased and sustained motivation are more and more persuaded that building engagement is key.

Especially in, but not limited to, the rising generations - Millennials, Gens Y, Z, and Alpha - having meaningful work, something that makes a difference, is essential in the growth of employee engagement.

Many employers, across industry verticals, still practice the old school approach of paying dues, waiting one's turn, learning the mind-numbing "basics", and moving through a series of low-level tasks in different functions.

More enlightened enterprises - and there are way too few of them _ such as Honda of America take another tack. Obviously, every task requires training and refreshment, along with careful attention to quality and throughput.

But, Honda, while new hires progress through development, also assign even the newest associates to important tasks and projects - the meaningful work that makes a difference, even though the rookie is still learning how to spray paint on cars and not on himself.

The esprit, open-ness, and general warmth of the entire workforce is evident. Watch and learn, grasshopper.

Finally, SCM Gets Its Turandot At Bat

By Art van Bodegraven | 09/04/2016 | 7:09 AM

The Kid's cheeks slowly got red enough to stop traffic at any busy intersection.  Was it a deep blushing?  Or, possibly, a sudden attack of a debilitating fever?  It turns out that, strolling around the community pool, he was abstractly singing to himself.

When complimented for his "nice singing voice", he dismissed the praise with, "Aww, this is just my walking around singing voice."  Then, the big reveal.  The admirer was a - knees knocking - high school girl!

So, in our magical world of supply chain management, we routinely give the paying customers Nessun Dorma, and blushingly acknowledge recognition with protestations that we were only doing "Whistle While You Work."

Never let 'em see you sweat,  We learn that mantra early, and it masks our triumphs and victories to a point of near-invisibility.  It's a two sided coin, one of our admirable traits and one of the perceptions that has held us back in corporate progress.

Footnote: The Kid, now gaining some awareness of where the girls are, is signing up for Choir and Drama Club.  No fool, The Kid.

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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