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Second Lives For First Act Flops

By Art van Bodegraven | 11/26/2017 | 7:07 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 Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future.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.


There was a time - yes, children, this is not a fable or fairy story - when the Alfa Romeo name was both legendary and gold in serious global automotive adventiures.  Alfa was a sports car that made the Brit versions look as plain vanilla as they actually were.

Alfa Romeo, now over a century old, is a household marque in Europe, and predates its absorbtion into FiatChrysler's latest attempt at survival.  When its cars were: 1: really fast, and 2: well-established as a star in the firmament of Grand Prix racing, a rag-tag rookie, Enzo Ferrari landed there as a driver and team manager.

But, stars dim, and too much time in the shop tarnishes reputations.  So, one-by-one, the Italians crept away from the once-hot US market.  Lancia decamped early in the game, and Fiat engaged in an embarrassing distress sale of on-hand inventory.  Alfa was long gone by then.

Comes now the watershed year of 2017, and Alfa is back, jumping in with both feet.  The Giulia is a driver's machine, with bags full of horsepower and torque, and a price tag to match.

Elegant, refined, stylish, rough and ready, fast and fun, well-appointed, and  wind in your hair wild, it is on a lot of wish lists.  It makes the early BMW's lose their street cred in many dimensions.

For those with a rich fantasy life, it's a Gina Lollobrigida - no refined sultry siren, Sophia Loren act for this wild child.

So, how does that relate to the day-to-day nuts and bolts of supply chain management?  Is our world one in which we can afford to fail, or even slip a bit, and hope for a reverberating second act, a rebirth for a new mission in front of a fresh audience?

I fear not.  It's just about impossible to recover from a core product/process failure in a staggeringly successful mainstream business.  It's hard to imagine an SCM recovery from taking a double bogey in front of a crowd.

Face it.  The similarity of service offerings and the hunger for top line input is intense.  If you lose in the SCM world, the competitor is obliged to kill you.  

Our universe is short on Alfa Romeos, and faces a surplus of Nash Ramblers and Hudson Hornets. And gummint-sponsored Chevy experiments with fossil fuel alternatives - plenty of those to go 'round if the incentives and discounts don't scare you off.



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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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