6 Prophetic Supply Chain Quotable Quotes

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When I was growing up my parents always had a Reader’s Digest on the coffee table. When a new one came into the house I immediately went to either the ‘Points to Ponder’ or the ‘Quotable Quotes’. I guess they were your grandparent’s Twitter. In both cases there were great lessons in a couple sentences, most which would meet Twitter’s criteria of 140 characters. Although I don’t pick up Reader’s Digest as much, I still love a great quote. Here are six interesting supply chain quotes that provide some lessons along with a prophetic vision of the supply chain future. 1. “You need to start your supply chain conversation.”  S&OP Demand Planning Manager, Sonus Sales talk to Operations and Product Line Managers? What happened to just throwing it over the fence and letting things happen? In most cases the customer got what they wanted, close to when they wanted it. This quote is powerful because it implies getting ahead of potential problems and immediately driving to a solution that likely includes compromise, trade-offs, and dialog. Reacting and seeing impact after the fact won’t cut it anymore; start your supply chain conversation. 2. “If you had to wait a week for Google to respond, would you use it?” 

Dominic Thomas, VP Business Consulting, Kinaxis and Supply & Demand Chain Executive magazine 2016 Provider 'Pro to Know' I was fortunate enough to hear Dominic present and when this line came out I committed it to memory. My immediate thought was the supply chain planning community is either extremely patient or has surrendered to Excel and legacy planning systems. This gets back to starting your supply chain conversation. Today asking a supply chain question like, ‘what’s the impact of a 20% demand increase?’ could mean another meeting while those who have to answer try and piece the response together. I didn’t include it as one of the quotes but I once heard a supply chain executive say, “It takes me three weeks to get the wrong answer.” Future supply chain planning processes should no longer include ‘waiting’ as one of the squares on the Visio flowchart. 3. “In essence, this is establishing a single version of the truth for the supply chain plans, regardless of what the underlying ERP landscape looks like.” Tim Payne, Gartner Analyst, describing the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Supply Chain Planning System of Record, published March 6, 2014 Everyone would get value from “establishing a single version of the truth for the supply chain plans.” I won’t get into the details about why that is, or the value companies have received by establishing a ‘single version’, but the interesting thing about Tim’s quote is that ERP systems do not factor into the solution. Back to the first quote, companies are not starting the supply chain conversation with their ERP systems primarily because of what’s implied by Dominic’s quote. It just takes too long and given the increasingly complex supply chain challenges, we can’t wait any longer. 4. “In 2-3 years’ time we will no longer have demand planners, and inventory planners, and capacity planners, and materials managers… we will only have network planners.” SVP Supply Chain, Pharmaceutical Industry Executive, May 2015 Of all the quotes, this is likely the most prophetic one. The next evolution of supply chain planning will drive toward seamless conversation between the different functional groups like demand, supply, inventory, and capacity planners. However this is what the silos looked like regardless of the ease of collaboration and how we organized in the past. But what if you could see all demand, supply and capacity on one screen, how would you organize? Perhaps you would organize by product family, region, or customer planners. What would those conversations look like if the silos were gone? 5. “It is not about improving the accuracy of the forecast and reducing the amount of uncertainty in the future, it is about eliminating the need for certainty.” Director of Supply Chain, Merck There are just some things you can’t plan your way out of. The increased uncertainly and the new challenges that are out of the planner’s control could fill our next white paper. The inability to have those “supply chain conversations” in real-time will put even more strain on your network. Risk and response management will need to become a core competency much like a pit crew responding to driving conditions they may not have planned for. In the case of the pit crew there are only seconds between winning and losing. 6. "Sometimes when I reflect back on all the beer I drink I feel ashamed. Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes and dreams. If I didn't drink this beer, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. Then I say to myself, 'It is better that I drink this beer and let their dreams come true than to be selfish and worry about my liver.’" Jack Handey Well, that doesn’t look like a supply chain quote but have a second look. Behind the backdrop of having a few pints at the expense of liver damage is a customer completely in-tune with how their consumption impacts the supply chain. Customers continue to become even more informed, demanding, and “brand agnostic”. Customer experience is no longer the end-game in the relationship. The new goal is customer advocacy. Your customer can drive new sales or shut down the pipe with just a few online comments. Your supply chain conversations need to make your customer the center of attention.

Did you find any of these quotes as inspirational as I did or for some reason do you just feel like going for a beer? Are there any supply chain related quotes that you would add?


Ted Linklater
- April 29, 2016 at 12:41pm
Interesting article.

I would change Quote #1 to read:

The CEO has to elevate the importance of Supply Chain with all departments, including but not limited to:
Production, Sales and Engineering.

Despite all of the attention some global leaders place on Supply Chain, for most companies, especially listed organizations, the focus is on Revenue Growth ,Profit and, depending on the situation, Dividend growth.

Only Profit is directly related to Supply Chain and even that connection is not readily apparent to many departments outside of finance.
Bill DuBois
- May 02, 2016 at 9:33am
HI Ted,

Thanks for the comment. Yes, I agree that Supply Chain needs the attention of the "C" suite and all departments. Many companies we talk to see break though improvements to Supply Chain processes as a competitive advantage. Taking planning cycle times from weeks to days and even hours will drive many improvements that will end up impacting profits. It didn't seem that long ago we started to hear the title. "Chief SC Officer".

Thanks again, Bill

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