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Take Five!

By Art van Bodegraven | 08/25/2017 | 3:03 PM

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 Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future.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.


With a nod of appreciation to Dave Brubeck, we are not into jazz piano at this moment. But, amidst the hurly-burly of our pretense of multi-tasking, our uncivil and unceasing political conflict, and a deluge of tweets from everyone from some generic Kardashian to unknown high-school illiterates, we have fundamental needs. One is for a little peace and (mental) quiet—whether we realize it or not.

There is so much going on around us, in us, directed at us, demanded of us that we spend our time constantly engaged, sometimes in trivia and sometimes with lives on the line. We don't—and can't—take input, thoughtfully critique, process, and crisply execute. First, we must deal with this multitude of voices in our heads. Second, to appear in tune with the times, we are mentally scrambling to think of what we are going to say immediately, as we leap from politics to poetry, from pleasure to business.

Somehow, somewhere we need to find a little quiet. We'll not get rid of all the competition for our short-attention-span resources, but the batteries will—guaranteed—fail early without periodic recharging.

This is not merely one living anachronism's complaint. Serious research has shown that a quiet period between "restful" music adds to the restfulness of the total experience. The unintended chaos of noise and distraction in modern open office layouts has not been offset by improved productivity and extemporaneous idea generation and sharing. Sorry, Herman Miller, but that's the real world speaking to us.

What we need is some quiet time, or focused time, to process new information, or flesh out new ideas, or simply gird our mental loins for the next assault wave of interruptions, distractions, demands, fund raisers, war stories, and emergencies (real or imagined). How do we get at this issue? Here are a few things to consider.

  • Inject a five-minute quiet time break into meetings to permit analysis, reflection, and processing. Do not demand reporting of issues, conclusions, or results from the mental break.

  • Set aside a quiet zone, free of electronics and unscheduled ad hoc meetings, every day. Meditate, if you can. (Of course you can; it just takes practice and commitment.)

  • Visit nature, for however much time you can, in whatever form is convenient for you. Listen. Thoreau didn't go into the woods to chop down trees, clear brush, hunt rabbits, or birdwatch. You can use some "me" time in a comfortable environment, free of all the hubbub, whether it is on a farm, on a path through a woods, in an urban park, at the edge of a body of water. Just get away, physically and mentally for a little while.

  • Definitely, on an announced schedule of your own choosing, declare a media blackout—no email, no texts, no TV or radio (except music, perhaps). Make it a minimum of a day, or take an entire weekend. Read a book. Practice on your bagpipes. Fish for trout. Avoid golf and keeping score. Then come back and knock one out of the park.

  • Finally, for the hopelessly addicted, with the time and money required, go on a full-blown retreat. It can be secular or religious. It can be purely recreational or educational. But if you can, just go do it.

Whatever paths you take, you can start small and build up from there. You can test what works for you, and what doesn't. But, start.  

I will suggest that, while rest is a good thing for all, SCM professionals are surely near the head of the line in terms of need, with rolling tides of change, performance and cost imperatives, multiple make-or-break customers, and M&A and automation both  costing jobs and escalating already-sparse talent needs.

But, again, start.

I promise: You'll live longer; your mental health will improve; your creativity will blossom; and the positive impacts of your work will flourish.



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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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