There is no shortage of supply chain conferences and webinars. By that statement, I mean we seem to have a good handle on figuring out the “how” and “why” of the supply chain profession. Sure, sure, there are lots of questions that will always be looked at in different ways, such as “forecasting” which we […]
There is no shortage of supply chain conferences and webinars. By that statement, I mean we seem to have a good handle on figuring out the “how” and “why” of the supply chain profession. Sure, sure, there are lots of questions that will always be looked at in different ways, such as “forecasting” which we may never have a great handle on. What about the “who”? We’re good on X’s and O’s; we need Jimmy’s and Joe’s, and Jane’s and Jeremiah’s and Juanita’s. Let’s continue to figure out the how’s and why’s, but don’t get cold on the who. The who will make all that happen and, psst, might even have a better way than us. You keep sleeping on the younger generations and I’ll be trying to find a way to make supply chain appealing to them. Here’s the punchline: if great executives spend most of their time developing people who are in their companies, why in the world aren’t we spending more time attracting people for our future supply chains?
“Customering” is hard. I know, you think you’re doing exactly what they need: provide their ordered product on-time and in-full. Those are assumed and should be handled with the utmost care and precision. If we can’t do those things, then, we’re in trouble! It’s my belief that the degrees to which customers want these things accomplished can vary. To a certain customer group, “on-time” could be within a 3-day window. And, “in-full” could be within 85% as long as the next shipment makes up for it. These are things you may not necessarily know, at least not at the micro level where the orders are being picked, packed, or shipped. But wait, we’ve been geared towards perfection for decades now; it’s not realistic to stop, get deep with our customers, then re-engineer our processes based on their degree of tolerance. You must! Iterate or die. Go do.
Stop and go listen to https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bWcASV2sey0 right now. I’ll wait. … How awesome was that?!? Listen, we’ve been comfortable in supply chain as the cost center for too long. It makes sense, though. Industrial Revolution means we can automate and streamline production of stuff, and, if we want to profit more we just do production for cheaper. Easy-peasy!! I can’t blame a soul for this approach until, say the turn of the millennium. At that point, the writing was on the wall that the production and delivery activities (supply chain) could be handled very sophisticatedly AND we had lots of data to make great insights. But alas, we mostly plugged along trying to be cheaper and easier. A “necessary evil.” It’s time we need a hero! Someone to fight the rising odds that supply chain will forever be squeezed into nothing. You try it: next week, think about how your activity in supply chain can please a customer or account manager. I know they can be rascals, but, they pay the bills. Do one thing that surprises them and scares you. Go do. If it works, repeat. Be the hero. “Oooh-ooohh, ahhh, ahhhhh….” If you didn’t listen to that song you didn’t get that last part and it’s YOUR FAULT.
So, what are you doing in supply chain? You paying the bills? I get it. That’s cool. Anyone trying to change? If you’re fed-up with how most supply chains operate (by design!) then listen up: you gotta figure out your M.O. “Modus operandi” is pretty much the way you work, your habits, what drives you. This can apply to all of us, especially me, in that if we’re not already pushing for change then it’s because we got no reason to! Let’s establish an M.O. for supply chain improvement. No, not “better forecasting” or “lean production methods.” YES, those things absolutely are imperative. We can fill a void with compassion. Empathy. Understanding. Supply chain is chock-full of the folks to do the demand planning and value stream mapping. Our supply chains need heart. There is a glaring need for soft skills and a drive to get supply chains back to the customer. Make it your M.O. Go into the office Monday, heck, fire up your laptop now. Thank the last person that sent you something. Touch-base with someone you have worked with in a few months. Ask that Sales Manager if he ever got the ETA he was looking for on Tuesday. Show some compassion and it will snowball. Next thing you know, you’ll be tripping over yourself to know what the customer thinks. Next thing you know, your M.O. will be the customer. Go do.
We all lose sight of the big picture once in a while. “Can’t see the forest from all the trees.” There’s one thing and one thing only that should be at the center of every. single. thing. you do in #supplychain: that’s right, the #customer. If you’re out of focus and need to get back, it’s not too late. Let’s talk about it. Leave a comment and let’s hear about it. What is YOU or YOUR company doing that is not for the customer? Get re-focused.
We’ve all heard this one. It waxes poetic and soft and sweet, and we feel warmed with “hope” when we read it. STOP IT! Listen, it’s not easy, nor fun, nor accepted by most. You’re in a corporate role or an entrepreneur, or dealing with a personal issue. In any case, the real change that matters will be a challenge. Most will not like it. Some may not even take you seriously. “Don’t rock the boat, we’re good!” Jump out of the boat, swim to shore, and build your own boat! The end.
PS – you think we got “change” problems, well, think about the man pictured above; our problems are nothing, now let’s get to it.
PROBLEMS WANTED! I’m doing research for a business model and need to talk with you about supply chain problems. Leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, find me on one of the social media channels.