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Hold Up There, Zeke; You've Rode The Tractor Into The Ditch!

By Art van Bodegraven | 11/01/2017 | 9:47 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 Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future.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.

 

So, how is it remotely possible that the smartest Buford in the county has mired the equipment - again?  How can it be that our neighborhood's equivalent of Dawsonville's Bill Elliott has driven his speed machine into the wall, while facing absolutely no oncoming traffic?  Neither crystal meth nor Ketel One - not even the Finger Lakes' finest Kosher Concord grape squeezin's - provide answers.

Actually, there are valid and well-researched reasons for how and why a Kodak can fail, or  Xerox needs re-invention to survive. Published a few months ago in Inc., and written by Travis Bradberry with a nod to the basics of EQ, there are parallels with the pitfalls of Groupthink.  The research behind this study was led by Sydney Finkelstein, and 'splains a lot.

Some of the cited failures are of the nature of Albert Einstein relying on cheese as mouse bait when a shotgtun is close at hand.  But, here are the basics.

Ignoring red flags and warning signs. Given an ample supply of hubris, many leaders are fully capable of blowing off the "Danger!  Here be monsters!" alerts.  C'mon, man. Even the best aren't good enough to get away with this.

"We are the champions!"  Freddie Mercury singing it doesn't make it so, even with backup from Queen.  But, so many - leaders, enterprises, corporations, teams - come to believe that they are untouchable.  Impervious to attacks from competitors, regulators, shareholders, or internal dissidents.

The smartest little boy - or girl - in the room.  When someone is consistently brighter than his/her colleagues, it's too easy to think that they are always both superior and right.  They would be wrong.  One, there's always someone smarter.  Two, collective wisdom and experience is generally more practical and useful than the vision of one delusional leader.

Carrying a posse of yes men and women.  See above, with the understanding that the posse doesn't - and can't - measure up in its contributions.  But, they'll validate any group into oblivion, understanding that they'll say and do anything to keep the paychecks flowing.

Applying what's always worked before.  Surprise!  Stuff happens.  Things change.  Equations shift.  Last century's successes have a way of turning into this century's horror stories.  But, if no one knows anything but the past, the future is in some jeopardy.

Inability to seperate individuals from the organization, leaders from ultimate, and permanent responsibility for everything!  You've got to be able to compartmentalize, stand aside and apply fresh thinking to trends, technology, generational shifts, competition, and  - perhaps most important - products, markets, and customers.

These factors are relevant to any and every industry vertical - retail, food and beverage, manufacturing, technology, IT products, sundry flavors of supply chain management.

In short, put down that wheelbarrow, Leroy, you know you don't know nothin' about machinery . . .

 

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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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