Common problems, common solutions. My week in Tokyo.

Published December 2nd, 2013 by Andrew Bell 2 Comments

As I write this, sitting in the airport in Narita Japan, reflecting on a great trip to Tokyo, I’m struck by how different and similar things are all at the same time. Here at the airport for example, people are speaking different languages, the signs are written in Japanese, yet somehow it’s very clear how everything works. Customs and Immigration works the same, security works the same, and planes are coming and going just as I’m used to seeing in Airports in North America. I’m not really surprised but it’s an interesting perspective.

What does this have to do with Supply Chains you ask? It’s because the same can be said about this subject. While people are obviously speaking different languages, and dressed differently (all the men wear suits, in my opinion, the way it should be… but that’s for a different blog post), they are all trying to solve the same kinds of problems. And in the case of the events that I attended this week, they are turning to the same tool to solve these problems. RapidResponse.

Let me back up a little. I was in Japan this week, along with Trevor Miles to attend Kinexions Tokyo. And the team here in Japan invited us to attend a few other meetings with partners and customers as well. Kinexions Tokyo turned out to be a great event, held at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. The day started with a the JRUG (Japan Rapid Response Users Group) where we had some very good discussions with a group of customers about Supplier Collaboration and Multi Echelon Inventory Optimization. As a Product Manager, it was also great to hear some of the very good enhancement requests suggested by those in attendance.

The formal event was kicked off by a great presentation from Deloitte Consulting about managing risk. It was followed by Trevor Miles from Kinaxis who talked about some of his latest observations around S&OP. I then had the opportunity to present our product roadmap to the attendees. The final presentation of the day was from Konica-Minolta. It was an excellent case study on their implementation of RapidResponse over the last year. It was this presentation that really started getting me thinking about the similarities. That’s because it is a story was very similar to ones I’ve heard at various events since joining Kinaxis a year and half ago. Multiple problems being solved by one application. The differentiators being that RapidResponse is one software application with one in-memory engine, NOT a suite of disconnected applications being tied together by excel. And a very happy customer!

As I watch my flight pull to the gate, it’s probably time to wrap this up. But overall it was great trip, with some great people (the team here at Kinaxis Japan) and some great meetings. I can’t wait to come back and visit Japan again.

 

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2 Responses to “Common problems, common solutions. My week in Tokyo.”

  1. Ryan

    Hi Andrew,

    I’m interested to hear more of your thoughts about the “same problems, different language” concept you touched on here. You remarked that planes take off and land the same way they do everywhere else, or that solution seekers are all steering toward RapidResponse, alluding to the idea that regardless of language or culture, the best solutions are adopted uniformly.

    My question is focused not on the viral adoption of a good solution, but the actual creation of a solution in the first place. The Japanese are famous in the manufacturing world for concepts like kaizen and kanban, solutions that have undeniable roots in Japanese culture. Have you come across any cultures that seem to have a natural proclivity for solving complex supply chain problems like those you tackle with RapidResponse? Are there some cultures that just “get it” more naturally than others? If so, what elements of those cultures lend themselves to that type of solution-finding?

  2. Andrew Bell

    Thanks for your interest in my blog post Ryan. I can’t say that I’ve done enough research to answer your question directly. It does seem however that good solutions to difficult problems often stem from basic cultural principles that may at first glance, appear to have nothing to do with the problem being solved. But a little creative thinking and these principles can lend themselves to unique solutions, which often end up being incorporated into Software Applications like RapidResponse to maximize the benefit. As a product manager, this discussion serves as a reminder to make sure that I keep an open mind when looking to provide new solutions to problems. The enhancements ideas can come from places you don’t expect.

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