Archives for February 2017

Rowing To Oblivion

By Art van Bodegraven | 02/26/2017 | 9:37 AM

OK, I could have chosen StairMaster, NordicTrak, or almost any clicheed brand of pointless fitness equipment.  The real message is that the trade press spends embarrassingly amounts of time and publication real estate on relative trivia.

Do they assume that the profession is sufficiently ignorant that warnings against warehouse honeycombing are part iof the beginner's curriculum?  Is it really and truly breaking news - Hello, CNN! - that accurate receiving is important to facility best practices?

These informative exposees have everything but coloring books to amuse the new DC associate.  We have apparently reached a thrillingly low state in this space.  This material does not even qualify as Logistics 101 education.

The ultimate challenge may become one of how seriously to take the journalists  who have been overcome with a pre-K level of learning when they turn their laser insights on such topics as IoT or Amazon's next moves.

My inclination is "not very".  If forklift battery life is an all-consuming passion, I'll look elsewhere for issues, trends, and end states in IoT application, or other current topics of serious import.

There is, btw, a school (definitely "old school") of though that suggests that Amazon is bringing, and has brought, nothing new or radical, or outside the lines to the supply chain management universe.  

It makes the Flat Earth Society look positively advanced, doesn't it?  Wait until they discover Galileo and planetary rotation.

Rock Of Ages, Cleft For Whom?

By Art van Bodegraven | 02/22/2017 | 8:06 AM

La Diva is curently in auditions for Rock of Ages, no great news so far.  She, aka, The Voice, is losing out to an actress who can't sing, a singer who can't act, and a third candidate with no personality.  That's show biz . . .

We asked about her call back; she admitted that she, once again, would be the token sassy female of color (e.g., black) with tough business sense and a heart of gold.  Not that there's anything wrong with any of those.

This is a school production, albeit a first-class operation.  Her school suffers from a surplus of Caucasians, Latinos, and Asians, all coming in several flavors and hues.  There is a shortage of African-Americans, except at running back.  So, we suppose that a token is a practical solution.

The challenges include these: other "token" candidates are persons of some color, and might claim some cultural affinity for a visible role and appreciation for history and traditions.

But, as La Diva observes, "Not only am I white, I am wan and pale.  Rather than being a woman of physical stature, I am skinny, weak, and shorter than your average Munchkin.  As to a grounding in some Protestant faith, better yet a Baptist, I am Jewish.  Outside of that, a perfect match!"  She will not be mistaken for Mary J.Blige while strolling down the street, not in this lifetime.

Some days show biz tests the limits, we suppose . . .

But, let's also supopose that the token role is typecasting.  We have the sad spectacle of a genuine talent typecast as something she is not, and is not likely to ever be.

So, it's time to make the doughnuts, as the commercial reminds us, time to go to work and tend to business.  The question of the moment becomes: Are you, for whatever or no reason typecast as something you are not as a supply chain professional?

What can you do to change the perception that has slotted you in the wrong pigeonhole?  How can you, if to be typecast, be seen as something you are, or want to be?

Life's too short to motor through in a Ford Fiesta when you were born to drive a Jaguar.

Ike's Dead, And I Ain't Feelin' So Good Myself

By Art van Bodegraven | 02/19/2017 | 2:39 PM

DCVelocity's  Mitch Mac Donald, always intrepid, has raised a lament that, while demystifying the Eisenhower legend regarding the Interstate highway system, nevertheless is an immensely valuable insight into the current dismal state of the US infrastructure, and its maintenance.

As we've often observed, there is NO infrastructure plan, and what funding there has been (and might be, in future) will be subject to the abuses of discombobulated pork projects designed to shore up wavering supporters and mollify local constituencies—and lend a hand to someone's election candidacy.

In short, we are missing the leadership of a President Eisenhower as the army of mice and sycophants marches toward oblivion, with a bridge here and an off-ramp there. Therein lies the winter of our discontent. No leaders, no visions, no action, little hope for sustainable programs.  All this to be followed by a grey mob of gutless clones, with predictable results.

In the day, Ike was revered, primarily as a military leader. The reality was that he was a masterful politician, which is requisite for career success in the armed services. Georgie Patton, a genuine hero, for example, was not.

Eisenhower as President baffled the critics, and he did get things done, the things he wanted. The keys were elements of vision, clarity, and consensus-building—and the passion of a great leader, who could get others to buy into ideas and objectives as if they were their own.

But, it has been near-on to a half century since Ike was President, and what passes for leadership has thinned out considerably in the interim. In fact, no one on the scene today would remotely be mistaken for a leader. We don't even have decent followers … It's even been nearly thirty years since the iconic Ronnie Reagan was last in office, and his name is taken in vain as often as various dieties.  We might make a case that the leadership gap widened between Teddy (The Real Deal) Roosevelt and Ike, with a brief rally from Reagan following

Principled luminaries from that gentler age may have garnered respect (e.g., Bob Taft, Everett Dirksen), but they accomplished little but rhetoric. Today's luminaries are, if not forgettable, demonstrably unprincipled. And, the rhetoric is an emabarrassment to 12-year-old kids.

Short story long, it'll take much more than we are seeing to plan and execute desperately needed infrastructure restoration. Leadership would bring us a long way in the right direction.


A Triumph Of Circular Logic - Why SCM Leads To Early Dementia

By Art van Bodegraven | 02/15/2017 | 1:35 PM

As most of you already know, it doesn't take much to set my teeth to Gnash.  The latest lies within the trade press, which predicts a dark future for Procurement.  Supply Chain Brain is currently flogging a CPO survey that projects the widely accepted view of a talent gap as a future risk factor in continued procurement success.

It all goes on to emphasize that cost reduction and risk management will remain focus areas, but how these contribute to the demise of future prospects is not at all clear.  Personally, despite the frustrations of the gap in action today, I'm not persuaded that efforts to narrown the chasm might not bear some fruit.

But, wringing of hands and whining might just generate some sympathy, even though positive intervention is more likely to alter the future in beneficial ways.

On a side note, I will observe that risk management should be a transient priority, and, further, that cosy reduction in traditioinal applications remains a symptom of "watching the wrong ball" syndrome.  

Now, those are reasons to crank the gnash-o-meter up to 11 . . .

Sue Vied

By Art van Bodegraven | 02/15/2017 | 8:16 AM

Or, actually Sous Vide, a food preparation method taking, if not the nation, the kitchens of foodies by storm. Sue Vied is the nom de plume of a consortium of emerging masters of the art, including mijn vrouw, uber-Mom Julie, and Fierce Betty.

The term itself, sous-vide, is - gasp! - French, meaning "under vacuum" which is usually where I find my missing meds. The original technique dates to the turn of the 19th century. A practical renaissance sprouted in the 1960's, but it took some time, despite the interest of Michelin-starred chefs, to become practical in restaurant kitchens, and even longer to find home uses and affordability. But, the principles involved are counter-intuitive, which is sufficient to induce an attack of the vapors for Betty Crocker, and stimulate yo mama to take the Lord's name in vain.

So, what's different? First, the cooking temperatures, which top out at about 134 Farenheit, and go much lower. Second, the times involved, which can run into big numbers - 96 hours, 30 hours, and so on. That alone stands meal planning on its ears. But, you can cook almost anything sous vide - meats of all types, fish, shellfish, eggs, potatoes, vegetables - and transform the textures and flavors of finished products. Everything comes out - evenly - at the temperature, texture, and flavor that Nature would intend, if Nature had time to think about it. And, it's easy. Pop in the food, and let 'er rip. You can do the minor prep work and finishing in minutes when the main components are ready.

We encounter sous vide moments in supply chain management - and in general business operations - regularly. And, we are really skilled at shooting them out of the water. Take too long; too good to be true; counter-intuitive in every dimension; would already be in place if they were any good; too busy putting out fires; never seen anything like it; no one has ever pulled it off around here; let the big guys experiment with pouring money down this rat hole; can't possibly work - ask anyone.

Imho, this is how laggards get taken by surprise. They cannot conceive that a disruptive concept can work, can change the course of an industry, can freeze an organization into denial, can stymie open consideration of something new. Don't blow off your sous vide opportunity.

Embrace it, customize it to your specific situation, figure out where, when, and how to employ it.

Give The People What They Want!

By Art van Bodegraven | 02/12/2017 | 8:21 AM

I'm hoping you remember the soul/funk revival led by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, summarized on the really great album, with a hand-crafted title, and a commitment to our inner selves.  Sharon had just undergone a Whipple procedure to fight her pancreatic cancer, and was beautifully bald as an egg.

Great news!  She's back, having just completed a concert tour.  It seems, whatever the future might hold, Sharon has more to give us, and she must sing and move, and give it all to audiences.

I get it.  Returning from trick-or-treating at Death's Door, I knew that I had more to learn, more to give, and more to give back to a wonderful profession.  My fight was not nearly as tough as Sharon's, but I also knew that I must write and observe, and comment on the world around me.  And, so I did, and continue to do so.  Just as Sharon does, and continued to do, until the end.

In a Trumpian admission, I'll note that I'd not pick Sharon out of a lineup as a prospective dinner date.  Returning the favor, I am sure that Sharon would not put any moves on me as a red-hot chili peppers companion.  But, she has, and cannot help having, a totally beautiful soul.

That's the way things are in our respective versions of creative communities.  Rock on, my sister!  I'll try to keep up.  

Meanwhile, ask yourself: Is your soul showing?  Does what and who you really are show the authentic you in the workplace, and infuse your collegial relationships?

Little Pinin Paints The Heavens

By Art van Bodegraven | 02/08/2017 | 7:21 AM

Once upon a time, just before the turn of the 19th century, the littlest duckling in a long line of chicks, the 11th - and last - child in a Turin-area family was born.  The Baby, little Battista Farina, displayed precocious creativity from the beginning.  At age 11, he worked for his older brothers repairing carriages and designing publicity.

Frighteningly, at 17, he worked on the design of a Fiat (to be more accurate F.I.A.T.) concept car.  When he hit the advanced age of 20, Henry Ford tried to hire him.  Battista refused the offer, but his American visit imbued him with an entrepreneurial vision.  The outcome was the creation of a legendary design shop.

From there, what became known as Pininfarina, from "Little One" Farina, went on to be affiliated with great names in the automotive universe.  Lancia, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, Volkswagen, Nash - marques great and small and the first-ever employment of a European coach-builder by an American manufacturer.   

Let's consider the attributes.  Global thinker, design maven, passionate for both elegance and accessibility, multi-dimensional, comfortable in hands-on work and in the company of executives, and out of the box.  The little boy had become a titan.

Now, how does all this relate to our work in supply chain management?  Seems to me to be dead-on. These could be the keys that can transform anyone of us from skinny kids into fully grown leaders.  We've just got to seize the role(s), master their elements, and work like dogs to not be, and not be seen, as pinins, wherever we may be starting out on a career path

Forgotten History; Shock And Awe When It Repeats

By Art van Bodegraven | 02/05/2017 | 3:06 PM

We've wearied somewhat of the emergence of Danica Patrick as the beauteous breakthrough, an honest-to-goodness race car driver who could hold her own among Indy cars, and win your heart with a wink and a smile.  But, success on the track has been elusive, with only one win (in Japan) to cement her legacy among the Foyts, Unsers, and Andrettis as titanic exemplars.

Reduced to doing low-end and slightly bizarre dental service commercials, she remains superficially attractive, but is not in the mix of open wheel racing stars of the future.

A momentary focus on Danica serves to remind the world that we, in the collective, have the attention span of ADHD 5-year olds.  The real pioneer among female racers was at the top of her game some 39 or 40 years ago. Her name?  Janet Guthrie.  Have you forgotten already?

A licensed pilot at 16, with aspirations to engineering and NASA, her ultimate passion was simple.  Race.  And, race she did.  She spent 13 years facing down sexists and winning before qualifying at Indianapolis.  Winning?  How about Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring?  How about tackling NASCAR, and starting in the Daytona 500?

So, how different is Guthrie's challenge from what has faced women in logistics and supply chain management since the bad ol' days of regulated transportation?  Rampant sexism.  Harassment. Dismissive slanders.  Just like Ginger Rogers, having to do everything Fred Astaire did, only backwards and in high heels - with no apparent perspiration.

Just as Janet won (the hard way) grudging gradual acceptance, women in SCM are steadily, and more often, rising to the top.  There are visible pioneer leaders: Martha Cooper, Nancy Nix, Ann Drake, and others.  There are legions of practitioners, perhaps obscure, but taking the wheel and driving the SCM bus.

With that in mind, let's remember that the struggle is never really over; striving for excellence is always the right path.  And for males in the field, we would do well to emulate the focus and effort that have supported women's growing role in our magnificent profession.

Long-Term Contracts

By Art van Bodegraven | 02/01/2017 | 7:10 AM

We still debate the practicality - and who must bear the financial risks of - long-term arrangements when evaluating prospects for sustainable working relationships.  With unearned pride, I announce the imminence of our 50th wedding anniversary on the home front.

Talks about your financial risk!  Talk about your long term!

Reality is that mijn vrouw is the glue that has kept the deal both still going, and fresh.  Her staggeringly capable skill set has raised four astonishingly gifted children and influenced the development of a half-dozen amazingly talented grandchildren.

She has nursed me through health challenges that would kill an ordinary person, and her talents have permitted me the freedom to solve client challenges and express points of view that illuminate issues of the day.  She also edits my work, to keep me out of the clutches of lawyers engaged by those offended by extravagant prose.

I'd love to think that we've another 50 to go together, but whatever the number turns out to be, I'll treasure it.  The world would be a much happier place with more of her and less of me.

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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