Daily Archives: July 18, 2011

There’s More To Risk Than Natural Disasters

As per this recent article in Industry Week on how manufacturers must brace for global uncertainty and risk, the following, entirely predictable, events can be just as devastating to an organization’s supply chain if not planned for.

  • Rapid Growth
    What if sales double overnight? Can the supply chain keep up?
  • Facility Expansion / Opening
    Can the organization ramp up supply, staff, and logistics fast enough to maintain productivity levels?
  • Massive Churn in Product Offerings
    If the organization has to continually offer new versions of products, or rapidly expand its product offerings, can the supply chain adapt quickly enough?
  • New Customers that Account for Double-Digit Percentage Volume
    Can the supply chain keep up? Can it provide any new services that will be required at the agreed upon service levels?
  • Substantial Changes in the Supplier Base
    If current suppliers go out of business, can new suppliers be incorporated into the supply chain fast enough? Will new suppliers be able to meet demand? If new suppliers enter the space, will the organization be able to identify them and take advantage of new technologies they offer?
  • New IT Systems
    A failed IT implementation can bring down a multi-billion dollar company. A poor IT implementation can cost millions and stop production in its tracks. It’s rare occurence when an IT system upgrade doesn’t result in at least some downtime. IT system implementations and upgrades need to be planned for carefully.

So, if your Supply Management organization is not yet thinking about risk on a daily basis, maybe it should be.

Can Your Supply Management Organization Spot Bad Strategy?

As per this recent article on the perils of bad strategy, a good strategy does more than urge us forward toward a goal or vision; it honestly acknowledges the challenges we face and provides an approach to overcoming them. It embodies the hallmarks of Admiral Horatio Nelson’s victory against the French and Spanish armada in 1805 where, outnumbered and outgunned, he prevailed against the enemy fleet without losing a single ship.

In comparison, bad strategy, which is often without focus, accommodates a multitude of conflicting demands and interests. It covers up its failure to guide by embracing the language of broad goals, ambition, vision, and values which are no substitute for hard work and good strategy. A good strategy is like a good brand. It makes an impact. It encourages a specific action, or set of actions, towards a specific goal. Stakeholders, customers, and market analysts love it or hate it. It is not another same-old, same-old slogan-based market statement that is heard today, forgotten tomorrow.

So how do you spot bad strategy? The McKinsey article on the perils of bad strategy, you look for the following hallmarks.

  • Failure to Face the Problem
    A strategy is a response to a challenge. There can be no strategy until the challenge is defined. If the real issue is not defined, the strategy will not work. For example, if labor relations are bad, new equipment will not improve productivity. If manufacturing costs are high, increasing sales will not increase profit margins.
  • Mistaking Goals for Strategy
    Audacious goals are great, but will never be achieved unless the company can identify a point of leverage to achieve that goal. An organization can only compete if it has a competitive advantage. It’s not just a push to succeed, it’s creating the conditions that will make the push effective.
  • Bad Strategic Objectives
    Strategic objectives cannot be fuzzy. They must be clearly defined. They can’t be blue sky. And they can’t be long lists of things to do. Good strategy works by focussing energy or resources on a select few pivotal objectives whose accomplishment should lead to a cascade of favourable outcomes. If the strategy doesn’t do this, it’s likely bad strategy.
  • Fluff
    If the strategy is nothing more than a restatement of the obvious, combined with a generous sprinkling of buzzwords, with no original thought, it’s bad strategy.

Your organization doesn’t have a bad strategy. It has a choice. Can your supply management organization make it?