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A Failure Of Good Intentions

By Art van Bodegraven | 02/14/2018 | 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 Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future.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.

 

To those for whom design "comes naturally",  it is often thought that some people are hard-wired to perform miracles, even without loaves and fishes.  Only a few of us remember the Studebaker automobile.

World-famous designer Raymond Loewy knocked out a dream machine in three weeks, a modern miracle in itself.  The space-age land-locked rocket set the world, and not just in autos, on its ear, and put sickly Studebaker back on the path to financial health.

That was the plan, anyway, the vision of company president Sherwood Egbert.  But, throw in a great design, add poor planning, and gently mix in quality challenges, and you've got -  great design, until the financial types figure out that the scrap heap only pays pennies on the ton.

The company, a legend nearly as great as Notre Dame in hometown South Bend, Indiana, was okay, but set no records in the Ford/Chevy/Plymouth derby.  Loewy, laboring out of Palm Springs, was once again called on to salvage the sick man of the industry - but this time out, needed a knockout punch, the foundation for a "new" Studebaker, and a new standard for the industry.

That was 1961, with production cranking up a year later.

By 1963, the last models left the plant, and what was left went on a joyride to Canada.  The sick man had finally succumbed, and the last several years were spent in a rehab that never happened.

Great design; lousy quality, poor planning.  All this and a price tag that couldn't compete in the market.  There's a message in here for SCM.  Good intentions don't matter.  Lost sales, lost customers - they don't come back.  And, good intentions to go with the other challenges - they don't come back easily, either.

Any Gas Left In The IoT Tank?

By Art van Bodegraven | 02/12/2018 | 1:29 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 mysterious world of IoT has left a lot to be desired.  That it would solve all of problems (challenges) experienced by SCM, through the universe of supply chain management was a fond hope.

But, the reality has overcome the hype, and we've got only a few things left to address by IoT.

The #1 potential is a quick win to the performance and maintenance of industrial machinery - traditional manufacturing, heavy goods.  IoT have done a good job of gathering data to manage equipment breakdown and/or maintenance.  These inescapably lead to smart scheduling of workloads and workflows.

The quick wins can take performance and guarantee dependability levels.

There is a potential market for IoT apps; it will take time and investment to dollarize them.

Finally, IoT can fully automate manufacturing and supply chain processes.  Rather than push data in from the cloud, IoT can permit automatic adjust operations.  Ultimately, IoT becomes a complete feedback loop, sensing and responding to interconnected data.

But, we are a great distance from quick hits to interconnectivity.

More Robots; More Help

By Art van Bodegraven | 02/11/2018 | 8:33 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.

 

Dave Blanchard and others are asking if the robots are here to help humans or take their jobs.

Jury's out.

Executives surveyed state that their, by far, greatest concern is finding talent—the thing that keeps them up at night. The degree? Some 80+%. A companion survey indicated that a comparable number were getting hired, a staggering shortfall. Anecdotal tales indicate a similar investment in acquiring and retaining quality people.

The conclusion is inescapable. Spend on getting and keeping talent. Hiring the folks you want and getting in a solid eight hours ought to take care of themselves.

Meanwhile, the machines are taking the place of people don't, won't, or can't do robotic repetitive work. Migrant workers are laboring in the fields, and are picking fruit and vegetables. Breaking news: Thousands are being invested in machinery designed to pick apples, breaking the back of the Washington State industry.

So, depending on application, robots are here to help and to take our jobs. It's ironic that humans are needed to train them in empathy, and communications.  

They'll take the jobs away, and we'll help them do it.

A Dynamite Meatloaf Recipe

By Art van Bodegraven | 02/09/2018 | 9:38 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.

 

Highly under-rated singer Meatloaf was the soul of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a surprise cult classic.  Speaking of cults, momentum seems to be gathering behind the push for a universal minimum wage

These cluster around, generally, low-wage low-skill functions such as in retail, quick service food, warehousing, and quasi-taxi service.  The target seems to be about $15/hour, with a preponderance of high-weight/low capability performers.  Government workers are active  - and activist - proponents of living wages for sub-par tasks.

These meatloaf - on a good day - meals are known in the collective as Universal Basic Income, or UBI.  However en vogue these aspirations are, they are made up of three core elements.  One, they are universal; two, they are basic; and three, they do make up an income.

But, to paraphrase Paradise By The Dashboard Light, not much about UBI is attractive.  Two of the three elements are not useful, and one is downright bad.  So, two failures and one winner.

One out of three is not good; two out of three is bad.

The downside is that the basic income is impossibly low, or the cost of it is insanely high.  Implemented, wealthier people would leave the country in droves, to avoid the associated punitive taxes.

Many think that nearly half the population cannot find paid employment.  The exceptions, including government support, are proposed to be UBI.

But, the vaunted universality could be taken as a sign of failure.  The massive cost could be a mortal wound, and Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch coming through with big bucks is unlikely.

Basicality is a lack of fredom to live modestly, and is a catalyst for social unrest.

Income is an avoidance of starving, and it prevents people from enjoying the the better - not free - things in life.  Now, the trick is to figure out how to pay for it.

Maybe we can suss out how to pay for it all.  But, the odds are slim.

Meanwhile, well-intentioned folks think UBI is an answer.  Not so much, dude.  UBI is for dreamers and schemers.  But, the tough love we've been missing, it needs to return to the basics.

Dino: Not A Flintstones' Character

By Art van Bodegraven | 02/07/2018 | 6:59 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.

 

For children of a TVLand age, Dino is a household pet from the Stone Age.  In a more somber time, Dino is a reminder of human fragility and the cratering impact of tragedy.

Enzo Ferrari was a genius engineer and pre-eminent designer who bestrode the automotive universe, symbolizing the best of Italian produce in his legendary cars.  His son and heir was primed to assume control of the signature marque, inheriting the closet-full of checkered flags and trophies that destiny was ready to bequeath when Rex d'Italia Enzo was ready to give up the throne.

Cruel fate intervened, however, and Dino died, in failing health, at the age of 24, never having ruled the kingdom.

Enzo's tributes were two: First, always clad in a black tie symbolizing perpetual mourning; second, creating a permanent auto line, with solely the Dino name as an identifier.

The Dino was a departure, with a tubular and modular mid-engined design (and Pininfarina coachwork), with a limited but long-lasting shelf life.  Over time, Enzo stayed glued to the tribute Dino, as horsepower increased and the wheelbase was extended.

Not truly a performance machine in the realm of "real" Ferraris, the Dino could hit 60 in seven seconds, and was sold world-wide at Ferrari dealerships.  The movable tribute eventually exhausted its cuteness factor, and production ended in 1974, after a build of 4,000 (against a target of 100).

That it was noisy beyond the comprehenion of heavy metal devotees, and had no luggage space whatsoever, were not deterrents to aficionados.  The Dino was testament to a father's love - and the futility of human plans.

For us in SCM, the questions are: to whose memory are we paying tribute?  Who has committed to memorials that either celebrate or mourn our work?

The View From The Kremlin; Anybody Going To Lubyanka?

By Art van Bodegraven | 02/04/2018 | 9:22 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 face economic uncertainty, and have stretched our suspicions that the Moscow Mules continue to mess around with internal US affairs. Our fears have been amplified, as we consider the unlikihood of the financial bravado currently being trumpeted throughout the land.

A fabulously successful regional bank (Huntington), fronted by a spokesperson who parachutes into Bloomberg and CNBC from time to time, has taken a number of relevant positions as they look into their crystal balls for the next year or so.

To focus on a popular number, last year's GDP was 1.6%; this year's consensus is for very slow growth, 2.2%.  The new Administration has pooh-poohed an anemic rate of 2.3% for 2018, with unspecific promises for really strong growth coming up.

The S&P 500 appears to be poised to grow in 2018, taking profits up with it.

That said, the expert view is that trhe global and US economies seems to have greater strength than weakness embedded in them. But volatility also seems likely. The Administration will likely pivot from trade, health care, and immigration to tax, fiscal, and regulatory policies. Markets—and the Fed—will react. Inflation is likely to accompany whatever economic growth levels turn out to be.  

Global events could play major roles in domestic affairs, and domestic developments could be sea changes in and of themselves. Populism will likely permeate global elecions, perhaps governments. Politics aside, will the generational shifts of Baby Boomers and Millennials have parallel consequences with those of the Reagan and Trump elections?  

But, storm clouds might be gathering. Global populism (Brexit, France, others) might affect economic growth. Profit growth (or its lack) might dampen enthusiasm throughout the economy. Global trade wars could be an unintended consequence of "America First." Asian economies and Asian investment in the U.S. economy could suffer from domestic uncertainties, not to mention endemic slippage based on populism and/or internal conditions.

We in the SCM universe need to know these things. They affect us and our work—and we need to be aware of what goes on in the world, as well as the factors that impact our customers.

Meanwhile, will all this upset and risk, we need to recognize that global governments and central banks will continue to be the source of market volatility around the planet.

Gird your loins, and prepare for battles against unknown forces. The worst is yet to come. And the Russkis might be playing a role in it.

 

Disabled; Differently Abled; Different; Dynamite At Work . . .

By Art van Bodegraven | 02/02/2018 | 1:14 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.

 

We are making slow but steady headway in tapping in to an under-employed, under-used resource in the SCM workforce.  The breakthrough came in Walgreens distribution center in Anderson, SC.  A fresh approach there was to revise jobs to meet abilities, rather than redesigning tasks and processes to accommodate so-called disabilities.

So, as a consequence, folks with, for example, a stutter can find meaningful work in a field to which entry had previously been denied.  Or, people with a range of emotional challenges can have opportunities to perform at high levels.  Individuals across a spectrum of rates and degree of development can be part of a working team - and excel.

There are consequences.  Not only do the differently-abled workers work hard, based on prior experience, their absenteeism and turnover are significantly low.  In heartening developments, conventional workers also work hard, inspired by the performance of those witha variety of disabilities, their absenteism and turnover is low, as the disabled anspire an entire workforce across the board.

The process(es) involved are not easy. Design. Eliminating bias.  Learning to communicate without "Talking down".  Building mutual trust and confidence.  Displaying common courtesy, without over-compensating.  Finding appropriate tools and aids.

Learning the roles and rules.  LIke it or not, the Americans with Disabilities Act went into effect nearly twenty years ago.  Technically, you are exempt if you have fewer than fifteen employees.  As human beings - with a lot to gain from greater workforce resource utilization - keeping the spirit of ADA makes sense.

Now, you have added responsibilities under GINA to protect genetic information, as well.  Get appropriate training if and as you need it, and scour government sources for related information.

But, start with ADA - its rules and recommendations, and most of all, its intent.  It's another case of doing well by doing good.

Are We On-Boarded Yet?

By Art van Bodegraven | 01/31/2018 | 12:09 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.

 

On-boarding is yet another lip-service task that tends to fall short as new hires integrate into enterprises.  Somewhat like a new President, who pledges to acomplish miracles and fulfill campaign promises in the first one hundred days, we tend to think that we've finished the process at 100 days, and can move on to the next task.

Surprise, pizza party-breath!  You've only just begun.  And, the process(es) involved in SCM are mission-critical, given the constant changes in products, customers, channels, and designs>

One leadership guru promotes this 100-day action plan: Keep Going.  Keep Building.  Begin the process of continual evolution.  This three-step plan must span three critical areas.

Leadership: Gain feedback, and sharpen skills.  Figure out how to be more effective as teams and as an organization.

Practices: Design and evolve, based on changes in manifold dimensions, including circumstances.  Decide how and where to redeploy plans, tracking, and program management.

Culture: After 100 days your cultural insights are more insightful.  You are more clear about where and how you need to evolve the culture.  Close the gaps, and design an actionable plan for competitive advantage.

These Big Three, though, keep on going.  As you evolve processes, elements of what must continue beyond 100 days, continue in perpetuity, include prioritized attention to:

  • Your Leadership, and its improvement
  • People; development, talent acquisition, succession and contingency planning
  • Plans, startegic reviews and refreshes
  • Practices, business reviews, plan and milestone updates
  • Program management, to leverage organizational capabulity and capacity
  • Culture, contuing to redefine and close gaps
  • Surprises, dealing with unexpected change, assessing degree and length of impact

The best-laid plans . . . The need to adjust and take decision on the fly is inevitable.

So, work on change-making with insufficient data - and deal with it.

 

Settle For Less Than You'd Hoped, And Be Happier For It

By Art van Bodegraven | 01/28/2018 | 12:07 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.

 

Why and when to settle for less than your hopes and dreams . . . As the corporate ladder either disappears or gets pulled away by night, we have all become entrepreneurs - whether we want to or not.  Now that every job is temporary, there's no real point to hitching your wagon to a falling star.

Time was, that a secure position with a reputable corporation, with rooms-full of friends, and a generous retirement meant walking away from something to not give up.  Very few have anything remotely that good today,

In short, if your job is evaporating anyway, you have little to lose by striking out on your own, and following a passion.  What's the worst that can happen?  You discover that your passion is not great enough.  Or, that you run out of money.  Join the club.

Here's why to stay with what you've got.

  • I can always explore passions and other interests outside of work; dude, try your hand at small motor repair, or organic pomegranate growing; now is the time;
  • Because of the children; a cheap "out"; set a role model for the offspring, not offer transparent excuses;
  • I'm too old to make a change now; How old?  105? Are you afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone?  Are you using this reluctance as an excuse?;
  • I have too many expenses; Don't we all?  If you're inspired for the long haul, you'll figure out where to cut, and why; you'll self-teach how to run a small business, and survive;
  • But, I don't know what I'm passionate about; all the more reason to stay while you sort through the options; what a boon! - opportunities to continue learning and experiencing alternatives; you have the right, the obligation, even, to sort out your own path to happiness and satisfaction

The freedom to fail, the latitude to flounder, the emancipation from a corporate strait-jacket - all the right reasons to stay in the wrong job.

This is particularly vital to physical and mental health in SCM, where it is all too easy to burn out.

Stay Awake; Leave Sleeping For Your Career!

By Art van Bodegraven | 01/26/2018 | 12:05 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.

 

What does it take to keep your career in overdrive?  Do the rules change?  Not really, not in a year or two - maybe over a generation or two.  But, getting into gear is prettty much the same today as it was a year ago.  

Begin with tossing out any thought that getting up and going to work in some hum-drum role is the same as building and keeping a career.  And, dump the notion that a lousy job with a decent income and comfortable benefits is smart.  It may have been 55 years ago.

Today, though, your obligation to yourself is to love your work, cherish its triumphs, rock on its successes, and crush it every single day.  If all you do is shoot for a target because someone gave you one, you are short-changing your life - you're on someone else's path to satisfaction.  It';s niot a win if you''ve just won someone else's Gold Star.

And, if you get that coveted promotion, but like neither the work nor your colleagues, you lose - big time.  Now that we are all entrepreneurs, we need to actively manage our careers.

That means running yourself as a business, with implications of doing what you want to, with whom you choose, in your own way.  The right job or role gives you immense power an opportunity: contacts and a network that works; resume entries and relevant war stories; wisdom; confidence; dragon-slaying capabilities; and an empowering sense of accomplishment.

Nurturing these allows, permits, and encourages planning for next steps and stages of business and personal life - of defining plans for growth and success, of creating your own life path.

From there, you'll know what pains prospective clients; how much the pains cost until repaired, and what the signs and manifestations of business pain are.

After mastery of clients and self, go for it!  And, good luck managing that new career.

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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