Daily Archives: April 28, 2010

An Open Invitation to SCMR Contributors and Bloggers

I’m going to miss the Supply Chain Management Review. Ever since Doug Smock left Purchasing, I’ve regarded it as the best publication in the space. It’s delivered solid content month after month and year after year. While I’ll be the first to admit that there were probably too many publications competing in what is still a small space, and that Reed probably owned more than it could make profitable, it’s unfortunate that it chose to shut them all down when it might have been more logical to shut all but one down and see if a more streamlined operation could be profitable.

But what’s done is done. However, there’s no reason that the voices who made SCMR great have to be silenced. I’m sure many are already looking for new channels and venues to get their message out. And while some have already found a new home — including Robert A. Rudzki, (former) author of the SCMR Transformation Leadership Blog and (co-)author of Straight to the Bottom Line and Beat the Odds, who will become a regular contributor here on Sourcing Innovation starting in June, I know that, unfortunately, some have not.

And since I don’t want their voices silenced, even for a short time, I’m extending the following offer to all of the former writers and bloggers of the Supply Chain Management Review:

If you regularly wrote for, or submitted content to, the SCMR, you are more than welcome to submit guest posts to Sourcing Innovation while you search for your new home. And if you had a blog on SCMR, you are free to become a regular contributor to Sourcing Innovation for as long as you like. Like the SCMR, Sourcing Innovation is all about great content and reader education. I’d be thrilled to have you!

Dos for Procurement Leadership, Part II

A recent article in the CPO Agenda had some good Dos and Don’ts of Procurement Leadership that are worth repeating. Today we’re going to dive into the other five dos and put an SI slant on them. DO:

  • Communicate

    You can’t afford to be the unsung hero any longer. Make sure to communicate your successes on a regular basis. Furthermore, make sure you use the language of finance when communicating those successes to the rest of the C-Suite. You should know the ROA, ROE, and ROI(C) of every success. Bob has some good posts on the topic in his archives over on the Transformational Leadership blog and in the Sourcing Innovation archives in addition to the great advice to be found in his many books, including Straight to the Bottom Line, On-Demand Supply Management, and Beat the Odds.

  • Provide Recognition

    Recognize the accomplishments of your team. A true leader is one who brings out the best of the people in his or her team. And great results are achieved not by one hot-shot, but a team of superstars.

  • Lead from the Front

    Be visible and ready to dive in and do whatever it takes to achieve success, even if that means helping out in a supplier identification and qualification exercise and spending your day on the phones helping out your team. After all, if you’re leading a PPO (Procurement Process Outsourcing) team, and a quick win could spell the difference between a 5M renewal deal with a new customer and losing that customer, your position and title become irrelevant.

  • Broaden Your Expertise

    One of the keys to success, which you hear time and time again from those companies that exhibit true supply chain excellence, is cross-functional collaboration. In order to collaborate, you have to understand where finance, legal, marketing, etc. are coming from. Make sure your people have the background to communicate across the organizational and include appropriate education in their PDPs. And remember these collaborative innovation insights which form the foundation of The New How.

  • Trust Your People

    This is probably the most important thing. You’re not Superman or Wonder Woman. You might be the biggest superstar your organization has ever seen, but you can’t be everywhere, or do everything, at the same time. You need to trust your people to do their jobs right, to handle the supplier crisis when it arrises, and to make the right decision when you’re not around. Otherwise, everything will come to a stand still every time you take a lavatory break.

What is Strategy? And How Is It Obtained? (Part II)

Part I reviewed the definitions of strategy offered by Alfred D. Chandler Jr., Kenneth R. Andrews, Michael E. Porter, Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman Jr., Richard N. Foster, Andrew S. Grove, and Henry Mintzberg, who are generally thought to be (among) the preeminent strategists of the last 50 years. It also indicated why each, on its own, was not sufficient. This post will look at some other definitions of strategy and try and arrive at a definition that can be applied to a business, and its supply chain. Then Part III will discuss how an organization might go about getting there.

Most of the basic definitions seem to mirror the Wikipedia definition of a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal, such as the definitions found on InvestorWords and the BNet Business Dictionary. But those aren’t deep enough to be useful.

Richard Whittington wrote a book called What is Strategy — and does it matter. In it, instead of offering just one kind of view on strategy, the book built on four generic approaches to strategy:

  • classical: it’s rational planning,
  • evolutionary: it’s the discipline of the market,
  • processualists: it’s the accommodation of the fallible processes of organizations and markets, and
  • systemic: it’s linking with the powers and cultures of the local systems in which the business participates.

In other words, Whittington attempts to convey that strategy is four-point diamond, and that the right strategy is probably somewhere in the intersection, just like the most brilliant diamond is critically angled.

Then there’s Gordon Walker who wrote a book on Modern Competitive Strategy which started off by asking what is strategy and noted that an effective strategy must provide the following benefits:

  • economic gain: it matches the market position of the firm to resources and capabilities,
  • resource allocation: it insures consistent and self-reinforcing programs can be built and maintained, and
  • management and organization: it insures the organizational structure is tied to economic rationales.

In other words, Walker attempts to convey that a strategy is that which enables the firm to succeed in its market(s) in a repeatable and maintainable manner.

And then there’s Robert Wittman and Matthias P. Reuter who wrote a book on Strategic Planning: How to Deliver Maximum Value through Effective Business who also started off by asking what is strategy, which started off by quoting Sun Tzu and noting that Sun Tzu’s three aspects of victory still express the essential elements of strategy today, which are:

  • profit potential: which highlights courses of action that will lead to future success,
  • value-based orientation: which revolves around an encouraging vision that provides the path for long-term development, and
  • competitive advantage and customer advantage: which is essential for the long-term success and survival of the business.

In other words, Wittman and Reuter attempt to convey that a strategy is that which will generate business success.

Tie it all together and see that many of the essential elements of a strategy revolve around:

  • actions and goals,
  • allocation of resources and policies,
  • patterns (identification, incorporation, and manipulation),
  • competitive advantages,
  • emerging markets and technologies,
  • offence and defence,
  • rationality and analysis,
  • internal and external factors, including market forces,
  • sustainable vision, and
  • people and cultures.

This allows one to define a business strategy as:

a comprehensive rational plan of action to achieve one or more goals designed to give the organization one or more competitive advantages consistent with the long term sustainable vision of the organization that addresses historical and emerging market patterns, emerging markets and technologies, resource allocations, offensive and defensive actions, organizational and customer cultures, and the people who will make the plan work.

And while this definition may not be perfect*, unlike most other definitions, it does provide a solid foundation that can be used to determine whether or not a proposed strategy is reasonable and actionable. It provides a basic acid test — if it doesn’t meet these basic requirements, the strategy is not ready for prime time.

However, this only indicates what a strategy is, and says nothing about its derivation. Part III will discuss existing proposals for the definition a business strategy, and, ultimately, a supply chain strategy and indicate where they fall short.

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* but then again, is any definition of strategy perfect? The author hasn’t found one!