Category Archives for "Business Strategy"

How Far Would You Go To Make Your Supply Chain More Secure?

Let’s start with a story illustrating how supply chain security irrevocably altered the fortunes of a company that was global leader in a very popular consumer electronics industry.

A High Profile Industry

This story is in public domain and involves two behemoths of the mobile phone industry at that time – Nokia and Ericcson. I tell this story in my book THE 5-STAR BUSINESS NETWORK.

Think of the time before Iphone and Samsung phones came along and conquered the supply chains of the industry, and the minds of the users. I tell that story elsewhere.

Here we focus on the simpler times.

An Uncontrollable Event

A seemingly trivial random event, on a fateful day in March 2000, changed the destiny of the industry.

Both Nokia, and Ericcson, the stalwarts in the mobile phone industry at that time, were equally impacted by the same event – a lightening fire in the chip manufacturing plant of their common supplier, Philips, in New Mexico.

Both Nokia and Ericsson experienced business disruption to an equal extent as a result.

Fire damage to the stocks was extensive

More importantly, the manufacturing capacity of the plant was damaged and it was difficult to estimate the time for repairs.

This is where the events take an interesting turn. Not everyone thinks of supply chain security beyond the physical security of goods in transit. For example only a few people think in terms of continuity of supply.

In fact, all the security experts who have no background in supply chain security fail on this count – they never think deep enough in terms of the layers of supply chain, while they do think deeply in terms of layers of physical security. Look at what happened in our real life story next.

Nokia had invested months, if not years, in creating and perfecting a robust and responsive supply chain security, while Ericsson’s business network was relatively a middle-of-the-line affair that worked well when things were good.

Ericcson staff were content to go with the flow, without too much care and worry about this part of supply chain security.

Nokia Sees the Future Before Ericcson, or Even Philips

After the fire, Nokia was able to see the full impact of the chip shortage on its own business, as well as the entire industry with a lot more clarity than Ericsson, and even Philips.

Moving quickly, it activated other parts of its business network to shore up supplies, to redesign some of the chips to manufacture them in other plants, and to take pre-emptive steps in the network.

Ericcson Did Not Move to Secure The Supply Chain; It Lost Out For Ever

Ericsson let the situation evolve at its own pace and made decisions more reactively.

The resulting gain in profitability and market share for Nokia and the loss of these for Ericsson tipped the balance of the industry to an extent where within a few years Nokia pulled far ahead of the Ericsson which never caught up with its erstwhile equal rival.

So, Why Do I Tell This Story?

It does have some anecdotal entertainment value.

But the moral value is even higher. Here are some things to ponder:

  1. Supply Chain Security is a layered affair – for the best results organise it as such:
    1. Supply Chain Layers
    2. Physical Security Layers
    3. Virtual Security Layers
  2. A random event can change the fortunes of an industry
  3. Better prepared companies generally wins in such events
  4. You do not need to be perfect, you just need to be better than your competitors
  5. If you don’t work to keep the supply chain advantage, you will lose it in a jiffy:
    1. Ericcson lost out to Nokia
    2. Nokia eventually lost out to IPhone (that is a story, I tell elsewhere in my posts)
  6. Supply chain advantage, when you have it, translates into industry leadership, fat margins and cushy life.
  7. Supply chain security is directly corelated with supply chain advantage. DO NOT IGNORE SUPPLY CHAIN SECURITY.

I could easily turn this above 7 point list into a large magazine article (listicle), but my readership is wise enough to connect the dots themselves, and do not need ot labour through the obvious.

Given the quality of my readership – I have created a 350 page report on supply chain security – which is available at a small (or relatively trivial) expense by sending an email to info@globalscgroup.com

If you really want to pay due attention to supply chain security there will be nothing comparable on this globe – get this report NOW by directly emailing me.

Unique Supply Chain Challenges of Oil & Gas Industry

One of the common problems cited by the boards and senior management is that the consultants they hire do not understand their unique challenges.

This problem applies even more to large cookie cutter approach based consulting houses with thousands of consultants where the guys who have the knowledge are too senior (and too involved in their company’s internal politics) to focus on your problems, and the junior people who have all the time have little knowledge or experience.

Time and time again I hear clients complaining about this problem, and their aversion to teaching very expensive junior consultants everything about their own business, only to have it all regurgitated back to them in a report.

That is why our approach works – we focus knowledge on problems.

Let me give an example.

I was recently asked a question about the Key Challenges in the Supply Chain the Upstream Oil & Gas Companies Face?

See below my answer, and understand how unique the challenges in this industry are. All the generic supply chain challenges fade away in comparison.

My answer below:

I am going to assume that you are looking for challenges that are unique to this supply chain, and not generic challenges faced by all supply chains. I am also assuming that the boundaries of upstream go till the refinery and beyond that is the downstream oil and gas industry.

In the exploration stage, the investments are big and the probability of success is low. Exploration equipment, seismic survey vessels and equipment is very expensive. Today, it is also very data intensive work. You must procure contracts for equipment at the best possible rates, and keep them productive at a very high level of utilisation and availability. Getting parts to remote locations where exploration is underway and machinery or vessel is broken down is often a big challenge. The machinery itself is highly sensitive and must be treated with a lot of care.

Booms and busts are common in these markets due to oil price fluctuations. When the oil price is high all producers are rich and wants to explore and make more ‘finds’, and increase their proven reserves. When the prices are down they give up on exploration and a lot of equipment is ‘parked.’ MAnaging the economic cycle of the industry is one of the biggest challenges as a result.

Moving from exploration to pre-production, and then on to production has its own set of challenges. Consortiums of some of the largest companies on earth are involved in these processes. Co-ordinating these large companies’ activities is never a simple affair.

The business network becomes very complicated. Outsourcing is very common, and sometimes badly managed. I wrote the story of Deepwater horizon in my book Outsourcing 3.0 | Outperform | Outsource | Outprofit – Vivek Sood and will reproduce some parts below to give you a sense of the complications:

Deepwater Horizon, a semi-submersible oilrig owned by Transocean was a dynamically positioned drill rig of this type of vessel. A highly acclaimed rig for its numerous deepwater successes, it was deployed off the shore of Louisiana at an approximate cost of $1 Million per day to drill an exploratory well for British Petroleum (BP) who owned the exploratory rights for the block it jointly owned with two other unrelated parties. BP had chartered the oil rig from its owners, the Swiss entity, Transocean. Transocean operated this rig through a subsidiary – Triton Asset Leasing also based in Switzerland, although the rig carried a Marshall Island flag of convenience.

5-STAR Business Networks come together in many forms

As the exploratory well it was digging nearly came to completion, on 20 April 2010 Deepwater Horizon became front page news on nearly every newspaper on earth. The incident was reported in a press release by Transocean [1] as follows:

“Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG) (SIX: RIGN) today reported a fire onboard its semisubmersible drilling rig Deepwater Horizon. The incident occurred April 20, 2010 at approximately 10:00 p.m. central time in the United States Gulf of Mexico. The rig was located approximately 41 miles offshore Louisiana on Mississippi Canyon block 252.”

“Transocean’s Emergency and Family Response Teams are working with the U.S. Coast Guard and lease operator BP Exploration & Production, Inc. to care for all rig personnel and search for missing rig personnel. A substantial majority of the 126 member crew is safe but some crew members remain unaccounted for at this time. Injured personnel are receiving medical treatment as necessary. The names and hometowns of injured persons are being withheld until family members can be notified.”

The details of the incident, as per the figures from popular mechanics [2] were attention-grabbing:

4.9 million: Barrels of oil (205.8 million gallons) leaked from the Deepwater Horizon well, about half the amount of crude oil the U.S. imports per day
 
19: Times more oil leaked from Deepwater Horizon than spilled from the Exxon Valdez in 1989 (10.8 million gallons)
 
62,000: Barrels leaking per day when the wellhead first broke, roughly the amount of oil consumed in Delaware each day
 
53,000: Barrels leaking per day when the well was capped on July 15, roughly the amount of oil consumed in Rhode Island each day
 
397.7 million: Dollars’ worth of the oil spilled at current market prices ($81.17 per barrel)
 
665: Miles of coastline contaminated by oil

The resulting investigation to establish the causality, contributing factors and liability will fill up a book many times the size of the one you are holding.

Outsourcing is a fact of life in business today

We will however, briefly focus on three relevant parties – BP, Transocean and Halliburton for the sake of discussion relevant to this Chapter – on modularized outsourcing. BP had outsourced the task of drilling to Transocean. At the same time Transocean had bought the Blowout preventer from Cameron International Corporation. Whether it can be argued that BP or Transocean had outsourced the task of Blow-out Prevention (BOP) to Cameron is not certain; neither is the liability on malfunction of the blowout preventer because of allegations of lack of proper maintenance. Cameron agreed to settle all claims related with the Deepwater Horizon tragedy with BP for $250M – without any admission of guilt. The situation with Halliburton is still unclear. As per a CNN news-report [3]:

BP and Halliburton sued each other in April 2011 claiming each is to blame for the deadly explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig and resulting disastrous oil leak. Halliburton was in charge of cementing the Macondo well and claims that its contract with BP indemnifies (releases) Halliburton of any legal action resulting from its work as a contractor…

In a response filed Sunday, BP asserted that “maritime law prohibits indemnification for gross negligence.”

As part of that four-page filing, BP reiterated that it was seeking to recover from Halliburton “the amount of costs and expenses incurred by BP to clean up and remediate the oil spill.” BP has estimated in the past that the total cost will be around $42 billion, and by the end of November 2011 the oil company it has paid out or agreed to pay out $21.7 billion to affected individuals, companies and governments around the Gulf.

In an e-mail to CNN, Halliburton spokesperson Beverly Stafford said “Halliburton stands firm that we are indemnified by BP against losses resulting from the Macondo incident.”

Outsourcing tasks does not transfer responsibility for those tasks

President Obama quipped in an interview with CNN [4] On May 14, 2010 “you had executives of BP and Transocean and Halliburton falling over each other to point the finger of blame at somebody else…The American people could not have been impressed with that display, and I certainly wasn’t.” The legal wrangling continues and will take considerable time and expense to resolve. We need not go into the gory details of dollar numbers too big to even fully comprehend, but from our perspective in this Chapter three key points stand out:

  1. When you outsource a task, service or suite of services, you could still retain significant responsibility for its full and proper execution.
  2. Brand-names, size of the company or even their experience is no guarantee of performance of the outsourcing service contracts.
  3. No matter how close the ‘partnership’ is at the start, the test of a successful outsourcing contract is how it ends.

What We Can Learn About Supply Chain Security From One of the Shrewdest Pivots In Business History

Here is a story of the fire than tipped the balance within an industry.

Two stalwarts in the mobile phone industry in March 2000 were equally impacted by the same event – a lightning fire in the chip manufacturing plant of their common supplier, Philips, in New Mexico.

Both Nokia and Ericsson experienced the business disruption to an equal extent as a result. Fire damage to the stocks was extensive.

More importantly, the manufacturing capacity was damaged and it was difficult to estimate the time for repairs.

Nokia has invested months, if not years, in creating and perfecting a robust and responsive business network, while Ericsson’s business network was relatively a middle-of-the-line affair that worked well when things were good.

After the fire, Nokia was able to see the full impact of the chip shortage on its own business, as well as the entire industry with a lot more clarity than Ericsson, and even Philips.

Moving quickly, it activated other parts of its business network to shore up supplies, to redesign some of the chips to manufacture them in other plants, and to take pre-emptive steps in the network.

Ericsson let the situation evolve at its own pace and made decisions more reactively.

The resulting gain in profitability and market share for Nokia, and the loss of these for Ericsson tipped the balance of the industry to an extent where within a few years Nokia pulled far ahead of the Ericsson which never caught up with its erstwhile equal rival.

Source: The 5-STAR Business Network http://www.5starbusinessnetwork.com

I write about The Supply Chain CEOs, The 5-STAR Business Networks and Unchain Your Corporations. My website is at http://viveksood.com

Never Hire Management Consultants In These Situations

I need to tell a true story which is about 16 years old.

Jon had just left the secure world of a senior role in a multi-billion dollar global corporation to accept the role of the CEO in a mid-size family-owned company. He had always been a go-getter, who had progressed fast in his previous roles.

He always showed impatience with the bureaucracy endemic in such large corporations, and believed that he could do things much better. And, he might have been right in most of those thoughts.

Moving On

So, I was not surprised when announced his plans to take command of the mid-size Australian company. Because he was not very close to me, I was a bit surprised when he sought me out, saying that he might contact me for a project once he was settled in his new role.

True to his word, and style, he did not let the dust settle before he called me up and requested a meeting. He gave me some details of the situation, and asked for a proposal to revamp the procurement department – which he saw as the weakest link.

Because the story is old, I can share some contextual information while changing other details. The company itself has been sold multiple times since; none of the information is confidential or identifiable.

Jon explained to me that he was the first external CEO in the business – which had so far been run by the founder. The company had been reasonably successful in the mining boom, and was ready for its next stage of expansion on to the international stage.

The Right Person in the Wrong Place

Jon, being the go-getter, was just the right man for the job. He was promised total autonomy by the founder/ past CEO – who had stepped back to the role of the Chairman.

In my first meeting with the Chairman, I found him to be an extremely astute man, who had built a strong company through difficult circumstances. Granted that the recent boom had made things easy for the industry, he was not the kind of man who could easily relinquish control.

It will take a long narrative to describe exact details of the project, and these are not even relevant. Suffice it to say that Jon, who had taken his bosses assurance of total autonomy on face value, found it very hard to operate the company as a CEO.

Relinquishing Control is Difficult

Almost all the crew was used to go to a single man for every decision. For the past 25 years in the company, all decisions were made by a single man – the founder.

Despite the appointment of the new CEO, this continued to happen in our transformation project, as well as in the business-as-usual operations.

It became amply clear to us that our project proposal terms were unlikely to be honoured. There was no way to get the co-operation from the management team because everyone was afraid of what the procurement data might reveal about the past and present.

We requested a meeting with Jon and expressed an inability to continue with the project under the circumstances. He apologised to me about misreading the situation and putting us in very difficult circumstances.

Being Thanked For a Half Done Job

The Chairman thanked us profusely for showing the direction to ‘his’ team and after getting assurance that we will continue to guide them as needed, wrote us a check on the spot – which is the way he operated.

However, more ominously, within weeks, it was clear to Jon that he had jumped from a chiller to a freezer. Within weeks he moved on to a new role as the CEO of a different, more progressive, company.

I will talk about how the story ended later on in this article. Here, I want to come to the main point of this article.

Many Such Situations

There are many similar situations when you MUST not hire management consultants because it will only waste time and money.

In my last article titled – “How To Get The Most Out Of Your Management Consultants While Spending The Least On Them?” – I wrote

The Quality of Your Management Consultants Will Decide The Heights You Eventually Climb To

https://globalscgroup.com/management-consultants-how-to-get-the-best-outcomes-for-fraction-of-the-cost/

A number of people wrote back, objecting to the presumption that every situation is amenable to getting management consultants.

While I did not say any such thing, when I thought about the topic, I recalled this story.

Leading from it, I can think of other situations where we did not start a project just because the person leading the project was really not in control.

Title inflation

This can happen due to title inflation in some countries where people get titles without commensurate powers and abilities.

In many Asian countries, family owned corporations continue to be run by the family members, despite there being a whole cadre of professional managers in place.

It is very interesting to watch the dynamics of these organisations in practice. The problem arises when many foreigners are misled by titles, not too dissimilar to the rare Australian situation quoted above.

Unions Galore

Unions are a fact of life in almost all big corporations – and they have a role to play in balancing the scales.

Yet, in some circumstances, they acquire so much power that any positive change is impossible. I quote one such very personal story in this article.

The point is simple – if the management is totally powerless against the unions they should not substitute analysis for action by carrying out one management consulting project after another.

That would be just throwing good money after bad.

If you adhere to these simple rules of the thumb then I can truly say that:

The Quality of Your Management Consultants Will Decide The Heights You Eventually Climb To

Coming back to the story that started this article:

The company went through two more CEOs, and an industry-wide government inquiry before the chairman finally relinquished control of the operation. At this point, the company was a popular target for take-over.

How To Get BIG Breakthrough Results in 2019?

Start of the year is always a memorable occasion – full of joy and hope. It is also the time for new intentions, new hopes, and new habits.

Like many families, we use the end of the year break to set the tone for the coming year – individually, and as a family.

That is the best way I know of sustaining momentum in Global Supply Chain Group for the last 20 years, as well as for physical, intellectual and skills development of three young boys growing up in a culture of entitlement.

One of my sons, who is studying a very tough engineering course at a highly competitive university made an extremely good point in a conversation with me. We were discussing how we can both achieve a breakthrough far above what we achieved last year – he in his study results, and I in my golf results.

The reason it is worth repeating here is because we have both gone though a year of effort to achieve these respective breakthroughs, with not enough success.

We were reviewing our methods and efforts from last year when he commented that if do the same things, in the same way, all we can get is the same result.

My thoughts immediately turned a number of my clients, who always complain that they have tried everything to get a breakthrough in their supply chain and business, and gotten little results.

Exactly the same situation is applicable there. I summarise the situation in the following diagram:

HOW TO ACHIEVE A BIG BREAKTHROUGH IN 2019

Now that he has made this observation, we are slightly further ahead on the curve in the last 4 days. We know that we need better methods, not just work harder.

But now comes the hard part – I am not a golf expert, and he is not an engineering expert. In fact, I touched my first golf club only after the age of 35 or so. To find methods that will take my golf handicap from 13 to 4 is not easy.

It is not that there are not enough people each with their own methods. It is just that I don’t know which one of them will work for me. That applies to a regular golf-pro lesson too – I tried those one year.

I want to solicit the help of my well-wishers, so they can suggest some methods that might work. I have to find my own way through a maze of methods to choose the ones most likely to work for me.

Then I have to apply the chosen method – till it is clear that they are effective, or not. Then, I have to incorporate them in my routine, or discard them, accordingly.

My sons’ challenges are even bigger. Luckily, I am not studying engineering in UNSW, or for HSC in a selective school. Yet, I am sure they will measure up to their own challenges. That is the nature of these things.

How To Get The Biggest Bang For Your Technology Buck

There were only 24 hours left. Tomorrow the board would pull the plug on the project which had continued for well over 3 years. The total costs as per internal calculations had run into hundreds of millions of dollars.

External consultants reckoned that when you included the costs of internal resources seconded to the project from rest of the organisation, and other costs buried elsewhere in P&L’s the real total was at least double of that.

However, the project had built a momentum of its own. No one was willing to point at the elephant in the room, let alone to lead it out. Careers were at risk. Good careers – built over several years.

I will talk about the outcomes later in this piece. Before, I do that I want to spend some time talking about how did the company arrive here?

How did so many competent people miss obvious and easy signs that the project was not on track. More importantly, where did it all go off the rails?

Was this a unique situation – with no lessons for  others grappling with technology outsourcing?

Of course, I have covered these, and other similar questions in my book OUTSOURCING 3.0, and in my blogs and videos. The book, in particular, carries a very comprehensive model and diagnostic tool kit, which is value for money.

In this piece, I want to focus on only a few key points. And, I want to frame it as a positive affirmation of key things that would build momentum towards success.

  • Create Congruence in Thinking

Three kind of congruence is important:

  1. Congruence between business strategy and supply chain strategy
  2. Congruence between supply chain strategy and IT strategy
  3. Congruence between IT strategy and business strategy

In the case quoted above, while minor lapses occurred in all three, several major gaps very readily apparent in #2. It appeared as if IT team was working in total isolation from the Supply Chain and Business Transformation team – though their projects were closely linked.

  • Think Beyond Tactics

Short term, tactical thinking – predominantly related to cost savings and control issues and considerations tend to dominate. It is quite easy to lose track of the big picture in the process. All the initial discussions and dreams of gaining competitive advantage are thrown out of the window at the first opportunity.

Then, what is the point in spending all the money? The project appeared like a lot of effort, just to stay in the same place.

  • Visualise How The Life Will Change Once The New Systems Are in Place

This takes more than a flight of fancy. A lot of things will change when one thing changes. You cannot ever do enough of visualisation and preparation. Every time you do this exercise, you will discover some more things that need to change in parts of the processes, infrastructure, skill sets, SOPs, contracts, warehouses, etc. Change it.

  • Do Not Underestimate the Time and Money Requirements

That brings me to my last point. All this difficult work is highly specialised; it also takes considerable time and money.  It needs skills rarely found inside organisations, or even in IT service providers.

While it is well known that most IT projects run into time and money problems, the scope adjustment problem is less well articulated. Yet, taken together, these can wreck havoc on your business outcomes.

supply chain management

The above graphic – taken from my book OUTSOURCING 3.0 sums up the situation nicely.

In the case study quoted at the start of this post, the outcomes were a lot different than what was expected by the majority. The board made a bold decision and pulled the plug on the project in the middle. That single decision most likely saved the company in the long run. They could have saved a lot more money if, at the outset, they are created governance structure to ensure just a few key points.    After all, prevention is better than cure.

 

How You Define Success Determines Your Results

“What is success? How do you define it in your current role?”

It was a simple question.

I asked this question of the room in general. I expected multiple replies from the all the executives in the room.

Then, I realised that none would be forthcoming.

A number of cultural factors were at play. The boss was in the room. No one wanted to be seen to be on the wrong track.

I had only 45 minutes to deliver some breakthrough insights to the group. Many people had flown in for the one day conference from distant locations.

My help had been enlisted by the ‘boss’ to get his team to lift the game. I better deliver what I had signed up for.

I had prepared my keynote presentation. The facts, the figures, the frameworks all stacked up. It could all be neatly delivered – well enough to justify my fees for the speech.

But, the audience were simply too ‘disengaged’ due to presence of the ‘boss’. Obviously, I was not fully aware of this dynamic – or, I would have thought twice about the engagement. Life is too short to take assignments with no probability of success.

Yet, there is always a way to succeed in every situation. Especially, if we think broad and deep.

But, the time was running out. I had to think quick. I had to think on my feet. Was it possible to send the ‘boss’ out of the room?

Would it have been possible to negotiate that he stay out of the room in the first place? No.

Then, it would be impossible to send the ‘boss’ out of the room.

Then, what else could be done?  What was the right way to proceed?

I decided to change tack on a short notice.

I asked the audience to divide themselves into groups of 8 individuals and introduced a simple supply chain game. I improvised some gaming aids.

The rules were very simple to understand the execute. Each group was to play the game three times, and note down the results.

I asked for volunteers to come up and share their experiences from the game. There were many enthusiastic volunteers. They even linked the learnings to their work. They saw things that no one else did. Their were ecstatic by the end of the gaming session – and not just from the games.

I asked three group leaders, with one key point each, to stay on the stage. They expanded on their key points. They talked about why these points were important to their business. They talked about what changes could be made to the business from next day itself. They were enthusiastic, knowledgeable and on the right track.  They started making points that linked up with my presentation.

I flicked my presentation to the last slide – where these same three points summarised the entire presentation.

The group leaders had already delivered what I had signed up to do. There was a thundering applause from rest of the audience.

What is Common Between Enron and Bitcoin?

I was at a Melbourne Cup luncheon yesterday, and someone asked me why I do not write about Bitcoin.

On my mobile, I showed them a paragraph from my book THE 5-STAR BUSINESS NETWORK written in 2013, where I talk about the emerging Digital Currency Networks.

But the truth is that given the attention Bitcoin has garnered over the past 5 years – I have barely written anything more on it. During the period the price of Bitcoin has been very volatile, and every move has been accompanied with millions of words written by the mainstream press as well as the more respected blog writers.

Take a look at the 5-year graph below:

The value of a single bitcoin rose from nearly 0 in 2016 to over 25,000 AUD in late 2017. Since then it has been very volatile, now relatively steady in the range around AUD 9,000 mark.

Lots of people came on TV and explained all the reasons why it was where it was that point in time.

Braver people made predictions too. Some even proved to be right for a period of time. Some of those reasons sounded even plausible.

Many people asked me for my opinion, and I always referred them to Enron. I explained that around the start of the century when Enron was in a similar place, people in parties would ask my view on it.

Enron was the darling of the quick buck brigade at that time. Some people even made money on it. Much more money that anyone would ever make by flipping houses, or companies.

But there were at least two big reasons I did not offer an opinion:

  1. I never give any investment advice, or offer an opinion that could be construed as an investment advice.
  2. I did not understand Enron

Many friends who knew that I scored the only 100% mark ever in the sloggiest finance course in my MBA would not believe either of those too reasons. And, they would press me for an opinion. Perhaps they had money riding on it.

Some, the wiser lot, even took my unwillingness and inability to offer a point of view as a sign, and made the decision which turned out to be right for them. A few even thanked me. Yet, I claim no credit for saving them a buck, or two.

I was merely stating a fact –

I Don’t Understand It.

And, that is all I have to say about the Bitcoin.

If you want to know about more things that I do not understand – feel free to offer suggestions.

 

Information age thinking needs information rich leadership

Boards always ask the hardest questions. That is why these gentlemen (and ladies) get to be on the boards. They know just the right questions to ask at the right moment. Towards the end of this blog I will relate my recent experience with one such question.  They may not know the answer, but they know that they are facing fundamental disruption.

And, they take their roles very seriously.  Sometimes, more so than the management.

In their eternal quest to continued effectiveness, boards face two fundamental set of choices:

(c) GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN GROUP

On one hand, they can massage the quarterly (or monthly, or annual) numbers and pretend that the results are much better than the actual results. A temporary high can be achieved month after month, quarter after quarter, year after year till the fiction can be no longer upheld.

Then you end up losing a tremendous part of your market value in a short period of time. While this story is all too common, the most usual alternative is not pretty either – read the story I recount in this blog post.

So why do many companies resort to massaging numbers? Are they not aware of the consequences? Or, are they just hoping to kick the can down the road till the next market explosion?

One of the reasons is clearly hard nature of the other side of the road.

To achieve fundamental disruption you need to apply relentless thinking.

Source: Unknown

But clearly thinking is not enough. There are already enough strategists who have done nothing else but thinking (and writing what they think).

 Action requires confidence

If you are wondering why so many of strategists’ reports just gather dust on office shelves – the real answer is simple. Lack of confidence.

In what?

Confidence in the findings, as well as, in the ability to implement the recommendations. After all, by now we have a generation of advisers who have made nothing but slides all their lives. Most practitioners have serious issues with that.

GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN GROUP

Source: THE 5-STAR BUSINESS NETWORK (www.5starbusinessnetwork.com)

Fundamental Strategic Flaw in Most Disruptions

Most strategies fail to foster confidence because they are based on industrial age thinking. You cannot fault the managers. Even the best business schools continue to teach outdated industrial age thinking today. And, in the rough and tumble of the real world, very few managers have time to think and work out that they have been taught an outdated business thinking process.

I have written many blogs on the difference between the industrial age thinking and the information age thinking, so I will not repeat entire blog posts here. But I will put in one simple slide to highlight the difference:

Source: A Fiduciary Board Report – The Future Of Business In The Age Of B2B Networks,

(https://globalscgroup.com/onlinestore/product/a-fiduciary-board-report-the-future-of-business-in-the-age-of-b2b-networks/)

So while leaders talk about disruption, there actions remain embedded in traditional thinking. Fresh thinking is even harder than traditional thinking.

Not just that, there is a new kind of leader that is required for disruption. For strategists data is everything – it allows them to focus on the select few things that matter.

Information age thinking needs information rich leadership.

Supply Chain CEOs think differently. They are able to focus on the entire B2B network simultaneously – both on the demand side, and the supply side. And they know which levers to pull when to make them match in real time. My book THE 5-STAR BUSINESS NETWORK covers the nitty gritty in a great deal of detail. But here are the five key levers in a nutshell.

Source: THE 5-STAR BUSINESS NETWORK (www.5starbusinessnetwork.com)

 

My next book THE SUPPLY CHAIN CEO will cover scores of case studies and practical examples of the difference, and how you can apply these techniques in your company.

Before, I stop penning this blog, let me highlight the question that the board asked.  The question was – Why can’t we do both the things together?

It is a great question, and I am still thinking of the answer.

I will answer it in my next book THE SUPPLY CHAIN CEO.

What Supply Chain Managers Can Do About Safety Recalls?

If you are in Australia, it is more than likely that you already know this saga. If you are not in Australia, or do not follow the news cycle, take a look at the video below:

This happens all too often. Once every few months, in some part of the world, a crisis of similar nature emerges.

Several years ago it was this:

I could keep finding a lot of similar videos about products and places – but you get the point. And, it is a not a new problem either. Take a look at this story from over 3 decades ago:

The point is that the lack of supply chain security hurts the company, the industry and the economy significantly.

Some band-aid solutions are rolled out – mostly to restore public confidence and get the demand up again. However, a comprehensive supply chain security regime is never put in place.

Having done large scale supply chain transformation projects for companies as sensitive as explosives, chemicals, fertilizers, food stuff, soft commodities, bakeries, meat, dairy, livestocks, and many others, we have seen both – the vulnerabilities and some really cutting edge supply chain security in practice.

Unfortunately, supply chain security, in conceptualisation and training, has not kept paced. There is no university course that covers this topic sufficiently. Conferences skirt this topic. Books cover it sketchily. Regulatory framework is patchy and officious.

And after complying with the regulatory burden most people relax in the belief that they have done enough.

In fact they have no basis to go beyond regulatory requirements, lest they are accused of being paranoid or overzealous about security.

Yet, dozens of incidents have demonstrated that regulatory framework is never enough. Each company has to develop its own supply chain security framework, based on its own particular circumstances. Even compliance with insurance requirements is not enough. Reputation damage to your business is a non-insurable loss in most cases.

How do you develop your own supply chain security framework?

Complying with regulatory and insurance requirements is a good start. You also need a more robust, holistic and comprehensive supply chain security framework that provides the guidelines for your own company’s supply chain security model.

Our report titled  SUPPLY CHAIN SECURITY – A COMPREHENSIVE, HOLISTIC FRAMEWORK provides the information to get you started.

Better still – run a one day workshop based on the content of the report. It will be the best 20K your company ever spent.

 

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