Richard J. Sherman, president of Gold & Domas Research and director of strategic development for CSCMP, offers a wealth of advice in his new book, Supply Chain Transformation: A Practical Roadmap to Supply Chain Transformation.
When Sherman sat down to condense his 30 years of supply-chain experience into a few thousand words, however, he wanted to explore the "why to" as much as the "how to." "There are plenty of books in the market that provide all the technical details around supply chain management, but I wanted to look at where the supply chain fits in the organization and what it contributes," he says.
Sherman notes that one constant throughout his own life in the supply chain has been the continual gap between industry leaders and laggards. "This book is about how companies can start the unending journey" to bridge that gap, he says.
The greatest challenge to taking the first step in that journey is internal resistance to change, says Sherman. "The status quo is very comfortable and so we develop cultures or rules that inhibit us from taking innovative steps. That's why I say "˜change is inevitable, but growth is optional.'
"To make it to Leader City and to maintain residency there, companies have to challenge the norm and challenge the rules," he says. Sherman points to Amazon.com as the poster child for this philosophy. "In 1997 no one thought Amazon would survive, let along thrive. Yet today it is the world's biggest internet retailer," says Sherman, who notes that Amazon did not reach this position by following the rules. "The alignment of supply chain strategy to business strategy is very clear at Amazon," he says. "Its strategy is to delight the customer and the supply chain and fulfillment utilities are focused on providing outstanding customer service, not at any cost but certainly at a cost that supports customer delight and value."
Sherman also emphasizes the importance of doing a "swot" analysis, a process that evaluates strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. "The culture of a company drives company behavior and strategy and part of that culture is an understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats," he says. World-class leaders constantly are looking for opportunities in a changing marketplace and also are looking at the strengths and weaknesses of their organization to see where they are most able to capitalize on opportunities and where they are most vulnerable to threats, he says. "If you understand the dynamics between these four factors, you can start building a culture based on maturity."
In Sherman's view, the highest level of cultural maturity is self actualization, which corresponds to the Learning Organization described by Peter Senge. "If you have created a Learning Organization and a culture of transformation and change, you will be able to adapt to threats and maintain your leadership in the marketplace," he says. The book is published by Wiley and Sons and is available through the publisher or from Amazon.com.
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Keywords: supply chain, supply chain management, supply chain management scm, value chain, logistics and supply chain, supply chain solutions, supply chain planning, supply chain services
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