Change Is Inevitable, Growth Is Optional
Charles Dickens may have been the first supply chain industry analyst. Back in the 1800s, he wrote: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair....” Sound like another day in the life of a supply chain professional? Nowhere in industry is there a profession that has so much volatility, variability, and certain uncertainty. And nowhere in a company is an organizational structure (you may say function) that has as many levers on free cash flow, return on invested capital, and shareholder value. Quite simply, if you can't ship it, you can't bill it. Create, Market, and Sell all you want; but if you can't Source, Make, and Deliver it, it will never be capital or revenue to Invest, Measure, and Value. And the total cost it delivers (landed) determines its profitability.
And, as Dickens's novel is titled A Tale of Two Cities, so, too, we can call the supply chain a tale of two cities; cities that we can call “Leaders” and “Laggards” with a channel of doubters between them. For nearly 25 years, I have been leading most of my presentations with a graphic of industry benchmarks (see Figure 1.1). Don't worry about the date. It doesn't matter. While I ask my friends at APQC to refresh the data each ...