@ Supply Chain Management


Imagining the tenth dimension (Or thinking out of the box?)

Sometimes I wonder if it is fair for me to pick on a teenager’s inability to manipulate numbers. After all, I have the advantage of double their years to have it figured out. Well, then I am reminded that this is something that is commonly observable human nature. It is one thing not to know simple math, it is another thing to disdain any attempt to point out simple/simpler ways of being effective at simple math, it is another thing to argue utter nonsense in order to make the problem go away and yet another thing to acknowledge one’s ignorance or mistake and correct it. Various actors in my previous post display these characteristics and its opposites to varying extents (Before thinking out of the box, How about thinking in the box?)
My humble point is this – that the purpose of education should be to teach thoroughly the simple abstractions that are necessary for life, plant the curiosity for digging up facts and the human values that integrate these abstractions and facts in a coherent way. If there is a fact of life, it is that humans make mistakes with all sorts of combinations of abstractions and in order to make the world work, one must be willing to repair the effects of our errors. Ofcourse, one must be able to discover these errors in the first place.
There is a frequent observation that I have made during the course of my life – a paradox. It goes this way…
All school children are taught elements of grammar during their education. Well, at least, that was the way it used to be. I wonder if today, the authorities have dispensed with the need for learning grammar (segments of the creative arts have definitely abandoned any notion of grammar). However, if you read the great authors/speech writers etc, you would find that they frequently flout the rules of grammar. While grammar is essential to communication or the communication of ideas, particularily compelling ideas conveyed in improper grammar are still compelling enough to forgive the author’s ungrammatical ways. Or simply put, while grammar is essential to clear communication, sometimes the communication is quite clear despite wrong grammar. So why bother about grammar at all? Let’s just make it up as we go. Clearly, this is not going to work. This, I believe, is the motivation behind the pithy phrase – Rules are made to be broken. It could very well be that these rules are man-made rules but that is not the (right) reason why they’re broken, they’re broken because something more compelling is at hand even if the rule has to be broken in order to get at the result. Of course, this is the dynamic between revolution and orthodoxy – while a rigid orthodoxy is often stifling, endless revolution approaches chaos. The way through, the historical observation, is treading the middle ground or meandering in the middle.

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Global Supply Chain Best Practices Quiz

SDCExec.com has posted a Global Supply Chain Best Practices Quiz authored by Bernie Hart, a global product executive at JPMorgan Chase Vastera.

Start the New Year right with nine tips for evaluating your supply chain management organization

First the scoring matrix,

Upon finishing the quiz, if you find that you have responded with more “no” than “yes” answers, 2007 may be the time to transform these gaps into opportunities for improved supply chain management and greater profitability.

Bernie provides in total 27 questions under 9 major areas. The only problem that I have with this quiz is that reaching a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer is a difficult proposition – in other words, this is a difficult (and perhaps for some, a very difficult) quiz. In fact, for a number of questions, the answers are likely to indeterminate.
Take the following question for example under the major heading:

Design of your Global Supply Chain Network should align with your customers’ requirements and expectations.

Are customer service levels understood, and is the supply chain designed to meet them?

How can you answer whether the supply chain is designed to meet the understood customer service levels? If you attempted to answer this question at the very strategic look (perhaps through some optimization problem), how would you incorporate the notion of customer service levels into that model. If you took the route of inventory modeling and optimization that allows you to position your inventories in appropriate locations in order to meet expected customer service levels, how do you account for the optimal logistics model to actually execute this inventory location. The answer, as of now, cannot be given so easily.

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About me

I am Chris Jacob Abraham and I live, work and blog from Newburgh, New York. I work for IBM as a Senior consultant in the Fab PowerOps group that works around the issue of detailed Fab (semiconductor fab) level scheduling on a continual basis. My erstwhile company ILOG was recently acquired by IBM and I've joined the Industry Solutions Group there.

@ SCM Clustrmap

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January 2007