Daily Archives: July 18, 2010

Want To Speed Up? Slow Down!

I really enjoyed this recent article in the Harvard Business Review on the acceleration trap and how corporations often take on more than they can handle when faced with intense market pressures by increasing the number and speed of their activities, raising performance goals, shortening innovation cycles, and introducing new management technologies or organizational systems at a furious and frenetic pace until employee motivation is sapped, the company’s focus is scattered in various directions, and exhaustion and resignation blanket the company which enters a rapid downward spiral.

It happens more often than one might think. And even if it doesn’t bring a company down, it can bring down a department. The worst scenario is when a company, after waiting, waiting, waiting almost forever to upgrade antiquated and failing systems decides it is going to do a big-bang upgrade in record time and decides to go, go, go before anyone plans, outlines, or even thinks about what they are doing. (There’s a reason that at least 70% of technology initiatives fail to some degree. This is usually it.) That’s why sometimes the best way to speed up is to slow down, take a step back, figure out what’s important and needs to be done, develop a plan of action, and then attack it with zest, but not so much zealousness that all of the employees will burn out before it’s done and success is achieved. Otherwise, you might be the next FoxMeyer.

Share This on Linked In

Six Keys to a Sustainable Advantage

Supply & Demand Chain Executive recently ran a short piece on the six keys to the sustainable supply chain advantage by Dr. Lowell Yarusso and Ronald J. Sanderson (of The MPower Group) which was quite good. In brief, these six principles were:

  • Collaborate, Don’t Compete

    because a true value-oriented supply chain consists of an extensive network of integrated suppliers, suppliers’ suppliers, internal supply chain participants and customers, all working together to maximize the value of the supply chain. This can’t be achieved without extensive collaboration.

  • Remember the Goal

    as many strategic sourcing/supply chain organizations tend to get overwhelmed by the task at hand and lose sight of the bigger picture. After all, cost reductions aren’t about objectives but improving competitiveness and functionality.

  • Recognize the Complex, Manage the Simple

    The supply chain is complex. That’s not going to change. The key to success is to simplify as many processes as possible so they can be easily managed and the risk of failure, due to unmanageable complexity, minimized.

  • Treat the Issue, Not the Symptom

    If you track the right metrics, you’ll be able to identify the cause of poor performance and focus on correcting it. This is important because if you don’t correct the issue, the symptom will just keep reappearing.

  • Focus on Cost Drivers and Business Impacts

    Remember, costs are symptoms; cost drivers are the cause. Cost drivers can be labor, demand, shortage of raw material supply, etc. Left unchecked, they can continue to rise. Tackled head-on, they can be contained.

  • Don’t Waste an At-bat

    If an idea is worth pursuing, it is worth pursuing to its full and natural conclusion. To make a significant impact on the business, strategic sourcing and supply chain professionals need to understand that, over the course of a season, the difference between “hall of fame” and “journeymen” hitters is largely that the hall-of-famer is driven to excel on every swing. They aren’t satisfied with batting .300. They drive for more. And that’s what’s needed to truly achieve supply chain success — a constant drive for more.

In short, the article serves as a good introductory guide on how to give your supply chain an sustainable advantage. For a deeper dive, I recommending diving into the full article on the six keys to the sustainable supply chain advantage.

Share This on Linked In