Posts categorized as 'Miscellanea'

Design for the Supply Chain Pt 7: Honest


We’re getting into the second half of the “10 Principles of Good Design” as applied to supply chain and supply chain management (Design for the Supply Chain). This week we’re talking about the honesty of the supply chain management solution.

Principle #6: Good design “Is honest”

“It does not make a product appear more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.” – ‘Dieter Rams: ten principles for good design’

This principle immediately brings to mind for me the Gartner hype cycle. As an example, below is the Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2015.

Design for the Supply Chain is Honest

Source: Gartner

I like to think about the hype cycle as being similar to Tuckman’s model of group development: Forming–Storming–Norming–Performing where:

  • Innovation Trigger and Peak of Inflated Expectations ≈ Forming
  • Trough of Disillusionment ≈ Storming
  • Slope of Enlightenment ≈ Norming
  • Plateau of Productivity ≈ Performing

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Supply Chain Lessons from Prince and Other Fallen Musical Heroes

  • by Bill DuBois
  • Published

Musical Hero

The past year has not been kind to our musical idols. Although many have passed, including David Bowie, BB King, Glen Frey and most recently Prince, we’ll always have a phenomenal body of musical works to keep them alive in our hearts and minds. When you hear these names and their music you don’t immediately think supply chain, but for all the supply chain nerds out there we’re always thinking, ‘what’s the impact on the supply chain?’ Aside from family, now that my hockey team is out of the NHL playoffs, supply chain and music are what’s running through my brain.

As a guitar player myself, I was in total awe of Prince’s prowess on the fretboard. Check out the YouTube video of Prince soloing on While My Guitar Gently Weeps during George Harrison’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The smile on Harrison’s son at 4:46 of the video says it all when it comes to Prince. While watching the video I was thinking two things. He is the ultimate axe slinger / showman, and there will be a huge demand spike for everything purple. Thinking about the musical geniuses mentioned above there are few other helpful lessons we can take away in their memory.

Challenge the Status Quo

I’m huge Eagles fan. I couldn’t believe someone could tear up the guitar as well as Prince. So I paid close attention to the careers of both Glen Frey and Prince. From the time a song idea popped into their heads, until that song ended up as soundwaves directed at fans’ ears, they both were meticulous about the entire process. That includes the song writing, recording, and distribution of their works. Glen Frey for the most part fired Glyn Johns, the same guy who produced The Who, Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones, because he wasn’t satisfied with the recording process. Glen and Prince also challenged the way music was distributed. For example, the Eagles completely bypassed the record companies to distribute their album The Long Road Out Of Eden. Instead they inked a deal to distribute directly with Walmart. If Prince had been a supply chain leader (just imagine that) he would likely be asking the same questions he asked during his musical career, ‘Why are we doing things this way?’ or ‘this isn’t good enough, what else can we do?’ We should ask the same questions about our supply chain processes and technologies all with the goal of achieving excellence.

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6 Prophetic Supply Chain Quotable Quotes

  • by Bill DuBois
  • Published

Prophetic Supply Chain Quotes

When I was growing up my parents always had a Reader’s Digest on the coffee table. When a new one came into the house I immediately went to either the ‘Points to Ponder’ or the ‘Quotable Quotes’. I guess they were your grandparent’s Twitter. In both cases there were great lessons in a couple sentences, most which would meet Twitter’s criteria of 140 characters. Although I don’t pick up Reader’s Digest as much, I still love a great quote. Here are six interesting supply chain quotes that provide some lessons along with a prophetic vision of the supply chain future.

1. “You need to start your supply chain conversation.” S&OP Demand Planning Manager, Sonus

Sales talk to Operations and Product Line Managers? What happened to just throwing it over the fence and letting things happen? In most cases the customer got what they wanted, close to when they wanted it. This quote is powerful because it implies getting ahead of potential problems and immediately driving to a solution that likely includes compromise, trade-offs, and dialog. Reacting and seeing impact after the fact won’t cut it anymore; start your supply chain conversation.

2. “If you had to wait a week for Google to respond, would you use it?” Dominic Thomas, VP Business Consulting, Kinaxis and Supply & Demand Chain Executive magazine 2016 Provider ‘Pro to Know’

I was fortunate enough to hear Dominic present and when this line came out I committed it to memory. My immediate thought was the supply chain planning community is either extremely patient or has surrendered to Excel and legacy planning systems. This gets back to starting your supply chain conversation. Today asking a supply chain question like, ‘what’s the impact of a 20% demand increase?’ could mean another meeting while those who have to answer try and piece the response together. I didn’t include it as one of the quotes but I once heard a supply chain executive say, “It takes me three weeks to get the wrong answer.” Future supply chain planning processes should no longer include ‘waiting’ as one of the squares on the Visio flowchart.

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The rise of contingent workers is shaking up the 21st-century economy

  • by Melissa Clow
  • Published

This guest post comes to us from Argentus Supply Chain Recruiting, a boutique recruitment firm specializing in Supply Chain Management.

Contingent Workers of the 21st Century EconomyThis week, we want to highlight a fascinating survey by global management consultancy Deloitte. Titled Human Capital Trends 2016, the survey solicited 7000 responses from executives at 130 countries about a vast array of workforce topics including organizational design, hiring, leadership, and other issues, with the goal of assessing how the 21st-century workplace is evolving.

Most relevant to our work at Argentus, Deloitte’s survey features a section on the way that the rise of contingent workers is shaking up the 21st-century economy, with lots of great takeaways for companies looking to make their organizations nimbler, more responsive, and cost effective.

The big headline, for us, is that 42% of executives surveyed plan to increase or significantly increase the use of contingent workers over the next three to five years. Conversely, only 16% of executives expect to decrease the size of their contingent workforce. According to the survey, 62% of Canadian executives surveyed rated the trend towards a more flexible workforce as “important” or “very important,” with that number going even higher in some rapid-growth markets such as India and Brazil.

Deloitte’s survey factored in a variety of contingent workers, including contractors, freelancers, and part-time employees. According to the survey, one in three workers in the U.S. is part of the contingent workforce, with that number expected to grow to half in the coming years.

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Big changes coming to the supply line, just not where you thought they’d be


Self-Driving TruckWhen talking about exciting new advancements that are coming to the supply chain, the discussion will always usually end up focused around 3D printing. Rightly so, as the 3D printer has opened up new opportunities never before possible in the supply chain. Rather than having to wait for a specialized part, companies can now print the part they need right on site. This can be a huge time and cost saver for companies involved in projects, but when looking at the overall supply chain worldwide, 3D printing is a pretty niche example. Even with 3D printers popping up everywhere, changing the way companies rely on the supply chain, there will always be limitations.

Sure, 3D printers might be able to print space habitats on Mars, but they can’t print everything and there will always be a need to transport an item(s) from one destination to another. 3D printing is revolutionary, but there is another absolute game changer about to deploy in the supply side that is an evolution; self-driving trucks. When looking at the amount of freight moved just in America alone, there was 9.2 billion tons (primary shipment only) moved by truck representing 67% of the total tonnage moved in 2011.

We’ve all heard about Google (to be correct, Alphabet since Google Inc re-organized itself into its new hierarchy structure) and Tesla in their efforts to create self-driving cars for the mass car buying public, but other companies, especially trucking companies, have not been standing idly by in this field either. As reported by The Guardian a number of European truck manufactures recently collaborated on creating a convoy of more than six semi-autonomous (semi-autonomous because there was still a back-up human driver) trucks that drove from Sweden and south Germany to a port in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Although not ready for complete autonomous driving yet, we can certainly see in the very near future (2018?) a convoy of trucks, completely unmanned driving across the highways of the world.

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What are Supply Chain Superstars Looking for in an Employer?


What are Supply Chain Superstars Looking for in an Employer?

This guest post comes to us from Argentus Supply Chain Recruiting, a boutique recruitment firm specializing in Supply Chain Management.

A few weeks ago, we offered an infographic that laid out key skills (hard skills + soft skills) that employers are looking for when hiring Supply Chain professionals. In that post, we condensed many discussions with hiring managers and senior directors in the field into key points of expertise that any Supply Chain professional should develop when building their career.

Today, we’re flipping the script to offer advice to companies and hiring managers, based on the scores of conversations our recruiters have every day with top candidates in the field, with the goal of answering the following question: what exactly are the high-achieving, high-performers within Supply Chain looking for in a prospective employer?

Companies that invest in developing talent in a field as strategically rich as Supply Chain can expect huge dividends. But hiring is a two-way street. In this market, (especially when Supply Chain professionals are in higher demand than ever) companies need to do all they can to appeal to top performers when hiring. They also need to do all they can to make sure that their best Supply Chain talent stays with the company for 5 years and beyond, growing into leadership roles internally instead of moving on after 18 months because of a lack of opportunity.

So what are Supply Chain superstars looking for? Conventional wisdom would hold that compensation is the most important factor when it comes to whether someone wants to work for a company, and stay at that company long-term. But surprisingly, our conversations with top candidates have shown us that modern Supply Chain professionals are more concerned with other factors, which our infographic outlines.

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It’s time to revolutionize planning


Poor planning results in flight delays and cancellations

It’s 2016, and data is everywhere. Alphabet Inc., owner of Google, has recently become the world’s most valuable company, in a large part due to its ability to process enormous amounts of data, and convert it into actionable information. They can turn your historical Google searches, location information, emails, and calendar entries into targeted ads, and it generates them an incredible amount of revenue. We, the people, willingly disclose all of this personal data to access their various services free-of-charge, and it becomes a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Google’s value was re-emphasized to me just the other day as I returned to Ottawa after a great week of sun and sand on the Florida treasure coast. On my last day in Florida, I woke up to several messages from Google telling me that:

  1. The weather at my current location is going to be beautiful today. Clear skies and 78 degrees.
  2. It’s almost time to leave for the airport to catch my flight, which, by the way, is on time.
  3. I can get directions with a single finger tap if I need them. Do you remember where you last parked? Do you need a rental car?
  4. There’s a freezing rain warning back home in Ottawa, and another snowstorm expected tomorrow.

Gee, thanks Google. I haven’t even poured a cup of coffee yet, and already you’re reminding me that my vacation’s over and it’s time to head back to the weather that made me leave Ottawa in the first place! While discouraging, it was also a powerful reminder of how compelling information can be when the right analytical tools are used to process it all and turn it into actionable information. Google had taken all the information it had available, planned the day for me, and given me some tools to help execute that plan. It’s really amazing how data can revolutionize planning!

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Don’t Let Your Supply Chain be Like the Death Star


Don't let your supply chain be like the death starIt seems now that I’ve found a correlation between Star Wars and supply chain, I just can’t stop myself from writing another blog on the topic. My earlier post, May the Force Be With Your Supply Chain, explored how you can use the force (aka attunement to market fluctuations) to realize value by developing a demand-driven supply chain. In this blog, I’m going to cover another topic – why under no circumstances should you let your supply chain be like the Death Star.

That’s no moon, it’s your supply chain! While your supply chain may at times seem as large and complex as a super weapon the size of a celestial body, the one thing you don’t want them to have in common is the propensity to be brought down by one small oversight.

In the case of the original Death Star, that oversight was failing to see the risk a single X-Wing fighter could pose to their thermal exhaust shaft. Luke Skywalker was able to destroy the entire space station with a pair of well-placed proton torpedoes. While that threat likely isn’t going to strike your supply chain, what does pose a very real risk is the failure to see potential areas of weakness. In other words, not having end-to-end supply chain visibility. If you can’t see all the way up or down your supply chain, how can you possibly spot those X-Wing fighters taking aim at your operations? To avoid total annihilation, or in your supply chain’s case, an unanticipated disruption, ensure you have an appropriate plan of attack, including implementing tools that give you the best chance at success.

Imagine how different the Star Wars story line would have been if the Death Star itself had been able to alert Darth Vader the second it realized the Rebels were about to attack? That’s actually a reality for your supply chain. By having a software solution that enables continuous and concurrent planning, monitoring, and responding, you’re able to know what’s headed your way before it strikes. You also have the agility to put counter measures into action quickly, thanks to exception-based alerting and high-speed analytics.

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