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Research Gets It Wrong - Again!

By Art van Bodegraven | 06/23/2017 | 6:33 AM

Please enjoy the thoughts and musings of our friend, supporter, and long-time contributor Art van Bodegraven Jr., who passed away on June 18, 2017. Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future. To honor his memory, we will continue to post these remaining blogs as he had intended. If you’ve been a fan of The Art of Art blog, check out our tribute.


Hard on the heels of the reported Ohio State research data scandal, comes a dense, nearly impenetrable study of the relative benefits of technology versus processes in realizing cost savings in supply chain operations. The highly respected firm behind the study examined detailed issues in current and future cost performance, perhaps a little too exotic, perhaps a bit off the mark in relevance. But, all very impressive in demonstrating a superior intelligence and advanced understanding of esoteric questions and answers.

To the surprise of not many, technology was apparently superior in some applications, and lagging in others. In the obvious converse, processes were sometimes the source of payoff, and obstacles or break-evens in other measures. The resulting research report goes on for several pages, each more sleep-inducing than the last, to weigh and balance the impacts of process improvements and technology acquisition.

It is not until the end of findings that the international (eight country) icon gives a brief nod to continuous improvement, with no mention of anything but process and technology until then. And, "lean", culture, and training don't make the cut until the very last page.

This is not nit-picking. The research and report completely ignore the most important of the performance stool's three legs. Good processes are vital; technology can be enormously supportive. But, they are of no sustainable value until the organization and its people have been developed.

The first, and prerequisite, investment in elevated performance must be in people. Training. Aligning on the leader's vision. Learning the tools of team and group behavior. Communications—in differing environments, solving a variety of issues, and balancing spoken, written, and non-verbal methods.  Integrating behavioral and skills learnings into everyday planning, problem-solvng, and execution.

Without building a solid and lasting people foundation, any process design and/or technology implementation is time and money down a rat hole. This is fact, whether the arena of conflict is SCM, or S&OP, or Sales and Marketing, or corporate information and integration.

Do you have what it takes to communicate that difficult reality to your executive team? Or, do you need to go somewhere else, where the message can be received, heard, and acted on?



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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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