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Archives for October 2017

The Thrust Of Trust

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/29/2017 | 1:21 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 Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future.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.

 

A few months ago, Industry Week published a piece by two academics, a somewhat abstract looking-down-the nose discussion that claimed gigundous benefits from trust as a foundation of sustainability.  

Here's a dose of reality.  Trust is at the core of any and every relationship-based supply chain interaction.  The outmoded and discredited transactional models of the past simply don't work - or work out - in today's trust models.  Today?  Grow up!  We've been promoting collaboration, with a foundation of trust, for decades, now.

It's not complicated - perhaps not easy, but certainly not all that difficult.  Say what you mean, and mean what you say, in all supply activities, with customers, suppliers, partners, associates, and outside resources.  There!  Feel better now?

Make good on your promises; go to the wall to make the impossible both happen, and do so without perspiring.  This is not hard.  Awkward, maybe, but not hard once it becomes culturally ingrained.

Where does trust come in to play?  Whenever you have a joint commitment to performance and achievement.  Whenever you have mutual problems to solve.  When you've got to reduce costs, at no sacrifice in quality.  When continuity of supply is mission-critical.   Whenever contingency plans  for proactive risk management are vital safeguards and back-ups.  When you need to collaborate on customer acquisition and retention, especially as a competitive wake-up call in the marketplace.  When you need to pool creativity and resources to innovate in product and process.

That trust abets the creation of sustainable supply chains seems to me to be just another fall-out from building the right kind of relationship.  Reputation, mutual benefit, asset leverage, joint innovation, environmental plusses, competitive advantage and thought/concept leadership.

But, what do I know?  I'm just another working stiff, bereft of time to research, write, and persuade.  

And, unable to flit from job to job, dispensing faux wisdom at each.

 

And, They're Off!

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/25/2017 | 8:26 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.

 

The noble sport of horse racing provides an abundance of allegories and exemplars for business and life. Not least is the time-tested truth that each year's best horse(s) cannot realistically hope to win the Triple Crown. The Belmont's length proves to be too much, or the Derby winner cannot sustain what it takes for two races in a row, and fades in the Preakness. Or, a previously unrecognized weakness manifests itself as a full-blown injury, a one-way ticket to stud duty.

There are apparently many ways to lose and many definitions of winning, something to keep in mind when one's metaphorical pants have fallen to around the ankles.

At all levels of the racing game, it might be useful to recognize that quickness out of the gate is not nearly as important as momentum out of the stretch and speed through the final furlongs. But late speed is often not enough to compensate for a slow start.

And so it goes in the supply chain game, as well. It might not be fatal to be second out of the gate, for instance. One mega-retailer has made a cornerstone of its innovation the deliberate delay until a competitor has incurred costly mistakes in the development of a new market or product line. But, whether plunging ahead into the great supply chain race early or late, the late speed, flawless execution, and flexibility in evolving tactics are essential to survival, and certainly to dominance.

This is a time to be clear-eyed about practicalities. Attractive and ego-boosting as a slot in the Kentucky Derby might seem to be (or imagining oneself as an omni-channel player), a late start, a shortage of competence, and never-ending struggles to deliver satisfying results may well doom an aspirant to a public bleed-out, with enterprise death inescapable as well as unremarkable as a shadow of its former self passes into irrelevance.

It just might have been that the horse should have stayed in second-tier events, winning against losers rather than risking all on a bet greater than $2 that sealed the deal in an unexpected way.

Translating to our world, maybe those wishing to do battle with Amazon (once the only and therefor fastest starter, fast and gaining momentum, strong entering the stretch) need to think about late speed, avoid confusing potential with last-century scale, and how big a bet they really want to place.

In horse racing, it is a simple set of outcomes: win, place, show, and also ran.

It's not all that much different in SCM.

Hot Mess Doesn't Mean Warm Army Food

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/22/2017 | 2:59 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.

 

The term "hot mess" has crept—no, leapt—into cliché among talking heads, vacuous celebrities, and reality TV icons. It is not winter's gruel for orphans toiling in English dark Satanic mills.

No, "hot mess" is a euphemism best not defined with precision, but think of something less appetizing than a cow pie and you are on the right track.

Those truly in command of the language might wax eloquent, and create an image of a steaming hot mess on a paper plate. But, putting a scoop of vanilla on top and calling it à la mode goes a bridge too far.

In our workaday universe, bosses, customers, competitors, and cosmic events hand out hot messes à la mode with abandon, and it is up to us to handle them in some form or fashion. So far, that's business as usual.

But, demand for à la mode and disdain for hot messes may lead us to confuse the two. And, too often, the messes are publicized as plates of vanilla, sometimes even Neapolitan. Note to flacks and tame journalists: underneath, it's still a paper plate of steaming hot mess.

Buon apetito.

Side Effects And Proximate Causes

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/20/2017 | 11:08 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.

 

During my latest test of local ER capabilities (not a voluntary exercise), The Kid wanted to spend a little quality time with his grandfather (that would be me). But, he sought clarity, and knew that I had experienced a Whipple Procedure in 2008, not mention a host of complicating factors.

So, he queried uber-Mom, "which is it?  Was it side effects of medications? Or, was it side effects of grandpa's whiplash?" He left confident that the meds were at fault. And, we all had a good laugh.

But, both we and The Kid need to be careful that we get the details right. Get 'em wrong and people around are guaranteed to fear the worst.

That's right, boys and girls, you read it here first: Sweat the small stuff. 'Cause it's all big stuff. If people see that you can't handle the small stuff, how are they going to trust you with the big stuff?

Once again, The Kid has given us an intuitive glimpse into what it takes to succeed. And, sadly, once again, it takes trying. There is no free lunch, and no glib breakthrough that ensures a work life of ease.

Of course, if my malady happened to be whiplash, a sharp lawyer and I might be able to grease the skids for that life of ease. But it would take a worse driver than myself to have a realistic shot at a non-crippling rear-ender.

Chinks In The Armor

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/18/2017 | 8:17 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.

 

No, this is not a politically incorrect reference to Orientals in chain mail, wielding halberds. But, it is  a reminder that it is past time for a reality check. By the time we get done exploring the attributes of 21st-century leaders, it begins to look and sound like a bio of St. Francis of Assisi, or Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Take a deep breath. Leaders have failings, flaws, feet of clay. All of them. It, however, is not true that great leaders are victims of great failings, with the magnitude of flaws defining the greatness of the leader.

And, frankly, really good New Century leaders are acutely aware of the degree and impact of their flaws.   Accordingly, they work overtime at controlling, containing, and managing their shortcomings.

They'll practice empathy, and learn to tolerate the failure of minions to "get" their differentiating vision.  They'll learn to stop over-relying on hubris to save their bacon, and the day. They'll test learning from limited data and information—and the value of whole brain solutions. And, more.

A future posting will give readers—perhaps deliver a challenge—to identify genuine leaders among the horde of entrepreneurs and wanna-bes that populate our universe today.  And, we'll have an opportunity to revisit revered leadership icons of the past in light of new understandings.

Models Of Leadership - Granite Or Balsa Wood?

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/15/2017 | 1:34 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.

 

Those who profess to "teach" impressionable young minds about leadership often skew to the Greatest Generation.  So, 20-year olds take megadoses of stories, examples, aphorisms, and anecdotes about and from people who have been either dead or irrelevant for the audience's entire lives.

Eisenhower, Georgie Patton, Henry Ford, Mohandas Gandhi, Alfred Sloan, Dugout Doug MacArthur.  For this crowd Rudy Giuliani is an up and coming young whippersnapper.  Jack Welch, who loved to lop off the bottom 10% of his organization each year.  We might as well be teaching about Napoleon, or DeGaulle, or Nelson at Trafalgar, or David and Goliath.

And, the real question remains.  Are these examples really leaders, as we understand what leadership means in this century?  Are they relics of another age, who'd be ambushed by "followers"?

What's your take, now that we know what constitutes genuine leadership?

Managing For Today, Or Leading For Tomorrow

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/13/2017 | 8:42 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.

 

A debate rages,  The deep thinkers are of the opinion that great ideas are the keys to business success.  Devoted workers believe that dedication to duty and following the rules - and going at it for 24 7 - make all the difference in enterprise performance.

Who's right?  Both,  Neither.

Without bold innovative thinking, with corresponding new ideas, there's nothing to execute,  Without unceasing effort, and following processes, any idea, no matter how good and how brave, will never come to fruition, reach its potential, or deliver on its promise.

The debate is pointless, as is so much corporate thrashing about.

There must be both visonary thinking and the hard work of execution to ahieve success.  Either one alone is destined for disappointment.

The leader with a driving vision, a breakthrough idea, can't make things happen.  The dedicated drone, without someone else's vision, is a mere functionary.  

The leader who can create a vision, and organize others to do the necessary work is destined for greatness.

Which one are you?  Visionary?  Or, worker bee?

Or both, with one eye on the future, with the other on making it happen?

Lion Gives Birth To A Jaguar?

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/11/2017 | 1:24 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.

 

Perhaps not exactly.  But, the tease is not far off.

Jaguar has been an iconic British automobile marque for so long that we forget its humble origins.  The cachet was kept alive through successive ownership changes, not least by Ford, and revived in its latest incarnation.

But, the legendary elite performer with a strong, but not exorbitant, price tag. Began life as a motorcycle sidecar.  Yes, a streamlined buddy seat for imported Harley's and such.

The aristocratic visionary with an eye for design - and designs on competitive success, was Sir William Lyons.  He shunned the limelight, did his bit for postwar recovery, raised sheep, and died quietly.

Like the stunning vehicles he created, elegant, understated, remarkably able, clean of line, and devoid of flash.  Powerful, quiet, sought after, and touched by human sensibilities.  Each new Jaguar was taken home for Lyons' wife to approve - in line, in color, and production details.

So, like our La Diva, changing the game - and its rules, Sir William defined how to design and produce world-class automobiles, then held fast to his vision, concepts, and values.  We would do well to emulate these models in our workaday worlds. 

When The Boss Is An Imbecile

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/08/2017 | 11:19 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.

 

We find ourselves in this uncomfortable situation all too often. And, the Chucklehead-in-Charge is, sadly, not a caricature drawn from the comics and the adventures of put-upon Dilbert.

So, what can/should you do? How can you confront the human floater in the punchbowl? How can you pull off an end-around and get to someone close to the top and nearer to a room temperature IQ?

First, foremost, and absolutely mandatory, document detailed, factual, and dispassionate examples and cases, with outcomes and impacts. Do this whether escalating the issue or confronting the miscreant directly.

Begin with contact and constructive conversation with the problem individual. Try to work things out. A later escalation might not look good for you if you've not tried (and documented). It might not work with a 25-watt HR staffer or a boss with dementia, but it might with a peer—and is worth the ol' college try in any event. Let—ask—the individual, either the problem or the perceived solution, to pick a time to talk, increasing comfort and decreasing implied threats or awkwardness.

Go off-site, lunch, coffee, whatever (not drinks) to a neutral site (reduced threat) where open communication is unlikely to spill over into the next cubicle, office, or lunch table.

Position impacts of incompetence as impacts on you, your objectives, and your leaders' expectations. Do not accuse the moron with "you always" complaints or give your leaders the impression that you are out gunning for the problem child.

Bring help into the discussion, whether asking for help to get your job done, or offering help to make the boss—and/or the enterprise—look better. In any setting—with the boss or up the ladder—ask for solution ideas, for a mentor, for a multi-level meeting, whatever is appropriate to continue, or to look for, positive solutions.

At all times, and in all settings, be gentle, be discreet, be sensitive, be empathetic.

Listen as if your job depends on it—it does.

Cutting Costs, Or Taking The Short View

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/06/2017 | 8:55 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.

 

OK, you can take the short view, focusing on tomorow.  Or, you can take the long view, thinking about tomorrow.

It's the difference between managing for today, cutting costs by any means necssary, or leading for tomorrow, investing for those visions that will make a competitive difference down the road.

Cutting costs for today, may satisfy shareholders, the CFO, and sme number of bosses, but is self-defeating in the long run.

Reducing labor and labor costs is a favorite target.  Searching for costs of all kinds can yield bonuses and promotions.

A crowd favorite is squeezing suppliers until they turn purple.

Another favorite, certainly with myopic managers, not so much with the workforce, is outsourcing.

But, focus on costs misses the point, when real leaders concentrate on investment, developing people, and taking on initiatives with long-term payoffs.

Your choice - go for the home run, or settle for singles.  Homers turn singles into RBI, make stars, and fill the seats.

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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