Navigating the Global Supply Chain Starts with People

November 29th, 2016
global supply chain

Your supply chain is only as strong as your weakest link so you must develop your employees and find ways for them to work together more effectively.

At APICS Inland Empire’s recent executive panel and networking symposium on “Navigating the Global Supply Chain”, we had some intriguing discussions on the hot topics in global supply chains. Wouldn’t you know, even with a complex, technical topic like this one, people are #1!

Start with your employees. As I said while leading a webinar on “Onshoring Profits” earlier today, I’ve never seen “happy customers” with “unhappy employees”. Have you? Thus, clearly starting there is cornerstone in navigating the supply chain.

However, this step is not enough. We must expand to collaborating with your supply chain partners. Your supply chain is only as strong as your weakest link. Thus, it is worthwhile to collaborate, share information and find ways to elevate your supply chain. Again, this starts with people. Do they know how to talk with one another? Do they understand cultural norms? How about language barriers? Or, let’s start simple — do we pick up the phone? I hope so!

The key to success of any person, department, company or extended supply chain goes back to people. For example, the best ideas die if not communicated effectively. The best suppliers will not work with people unwilling to think win-win and collaborate for success. Customers will not think about what would help your success if you don’t tell them about your business objectives — and ask how you can help them achieve theirs. Your transportation partners might not prioritize your shipment when natural disasters occur. Is your 3PL in sync with you? They are an interface with your customer. Remember, no matter the topic, consider people your #1 asset.

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to Profit Through People:

People, People & People 

Never Stop Learning


Historic Importance & the Hotel del Coronado

November 28th, 2016

supply chain

I’ve been going to the Hotel del Coronado for Thanksgiving dinner the last few years — it is simply amazing! The Del is certainly a historical landmark — and has been since it was built in 1888. They do a nice job of preserving the history of the Del while also keeping it modern and attractive to guests. I love the skating rink during the holiday season as I used to competitively ice skate when I was a child, and it reminds me of my history. Here is a view from the back — anyone driving up to this masterpiece knows it from afar!

historic importance


One tip to implement this week:

What historical significance does your company have? Although I worked for a company that was part of a historical site, there aren’t too many. However, there must be something that ties your company to its founders or the town. Find out. It could be an interesting story — for you and your customers.

Who doesn’t like to stand for something important? Think about how you can bring the historical importance of your company, its founders and even long-term employees to life. What could you start today that could be the beginning of a tradition?

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”

Crowdsourcing Is In

November 22nd, 2016
crowdsourcing is in

Crowdsourcing is an engaging, collaborative practice that is catching on to stimulate innovation and new ideas in R&D and software design.

In asking questions about outsourcing, insourcing and near-sourcing of the executive panel at APICS Inland Empire’s Symposium, we heard several great stories. One of them was compelling about the value of crowdsourcing.

Crowdsourcing is the practice of engaging a ‘crowd’ or group for a common goal — often innovation, problem solving, or efficiency. It is powered by new technologies, social media and web 2.0.

It is simply amazing as to what can be achieved with these out-of-the-box strategies. Many big name companies who can put “big bucks” behind their efforts have found that they can achieve far more with crowdsourcing than they can solely with employees alone. Certainly, cash-constrained smaller companies would have a significant challenge funding this expertise. Yet it isn’t all about cost. Innovation and new ideas emerge in these settings.

It is worth considering at least being aware of the power of crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing can apply to all business and social interactions and so it can apply to almost all aspects of business — hiring, research, manufacturing, marketing, etc. Our panelists talked about how it has been used successfully in R&D and software design. Leveraging these types of collaborative practices and tools create disruption and spur innovation. It is definitely a topic to keep your eye on!

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to become a Systems Pragmatist:

Data, Data & Data 

The Value of CRM


Technical Innovation & Japan’s Bullet Train

November 17th, 2016

supply chain

While in Japan last week, I had the opportunity to ride the bullet train three times — and, even waited to go back to Tokyo from Mt. Fuji to see it whiz past since you cannot see it in action in Tokyo as a terminal station — simply amazing and FAST! The bullet train travels at over 300 kph. They always arrive on time and they are neat, organized, efficient, and safe. They account for potential earthquakes, etc.

We can certainly learn something from this engineering and service feat. And if that wasn’t enough, I learned that they have been testing a bullet train that goes 600 kph. It has been in the works for 10 years with several left to go. Innovation at its best.

technology innovation


One tip to implement this week:

Are you thinking about what might be needed 10 years out? Certainly, if you ask your customers, they might not be thinking about trains that go at 600 kph. Although I surprisingly couldn’t tell I was traveling at 300 kph, I wouldn’t think I needed to double it. Yet, I’m sure I’d be happy to get from point A to point B in half the time in today’s Amazon-impacted marketplace. Either way, breakthrough technology will have many uses.

In thinking about how to apply the bullet train concept this week, take a few hours out of your schedule for thinking 10+ years down-the-line. What do you think your customers might want? Bring in your top people. Assemble experts. Get ahead of the curve in thinking about the future and how your products, people, processes and culture will need to change.

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”


Will Your Supply Chain Risk Surprise You?

November 15th, 2016
supply chain risks

What happens when you have a break in your supply chain? Do you have contingency plans in place to mitigate business interruption?

Supply chain risks abound! Just look at the recent bankruptcy of Hanjin. It created havoc in the global supply chain. Ships were virtually stranded on the water. No one knew how they’d get paid. Yet, customers still needed the product. And so the results were scary. Have you thought about these types of risks within your supply chain?


At our APICS Inland Empire executive panel and networking symposium, we had a panel of experts on navigating the global supply chain. A renowned international business attorney brought up a significant topic — what if a conflict brews in the South China sea? Your supply chain could stop in its tracks. What backup plans do you have?


How about natural disasters? We cannot control these but they have a BIG impact on our supply chain. Think about hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, volcanoes and many others. Unfortunately, they seem to occur at an increasing rate — or at least they quickly go viral. Recently, there was a fire along the 15 freeway in Southern CA on the road towards Las Vegas and the north. It created havoc beyond trucks stranded on the freeway. Manufacturers ran short on materials. Railroads and trucks were re-routed. Customers had to air freight if speed was essential. It even impacted the ports.


And there are many other risks. Security is a big topic alone. The bottom line is you must prepare for these risks. What will you do to ensure business continues?

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to be the Strongest Link in your organization: 

Why Care About Supply Chain Risk?

Is Your Supply Chain Ready for Growth?