VIPs of Supply Chain Strategies and Leadership

August of 2013 I took a course at Stanford Graduate School of Business focused on Supply Chain Strategies and Leadership.  Here are my takeaways of the Very Important Principles and People (VIPs) of Supply Chain Strategies and Leadership.  We learned about The Triple A Supply Chain (Agility, Adaptability and Alignment), Vertical Integration, Postponement, Big Data, Value Chain Ethics and Sustainable Supply Chains.  Each of these topics deserve a blog of their own.  The bottom line is there is no cookie cutter strategy that fits every business.  It is a combination of people and ideas and a willingness to innovate based on what’s happening in your business at the time. However, understanding these concepts and studying companies that have successfully leveraged them as well as those that failed gives us an idea of what may or may not work for a business or industry.

My class was made up of 40 students from 17 different countries and the industries represented were fashion, technology, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, transportation, logging and wine to name a few.  We were given 20 case studies to read prior to the class starting and questions to answer for each case study.  On the first day of class, we were assigned study groups of five people that reflected the diversity of the class.  I learned as much from this part of the class as I learned from the professors and we had fun in the process.

The professors were all outstanding because they have theoretical as well as practical experience. A few examples were Professors Hau Lee, Bill Barnett and Michael Marks.  Professor Lee was the Director of the program and taught us about The Triple A Supply Chain as well as many of the other Supply Chain Strategies.  See how Professor Lee kept us engaged and why we call him Professor Bullwhip: http://youtu.be/b0dExw3es40.  Professor Barnett focused on Leadership and is a prolific blogger.  Here is one of his blogs on Leading by Design: http://www.barnetttalks.com/2014/07/leading-by-design.html.  Finally Michael Marks, a founding Partner in Riverwood Capital and the former CEO of Flextronics, took us through some Supply Chain Ethics case studies as well as case studies on companies that demonstrate Innovation.

It was one of the greatest educational experiences that I have had.  I am still thinking about it more than a year later.  In my blogs over the next few months I will share:

  • The Top 3 Strategies that the Top Supply Chain Companies are Using
  • A More In-depth Discussion of the Very Important Principles of Supply Chain Strategies
About Karen Bird

Karen Bird is a Senior Planning Analyst for Profit Point Inc. She has over 25 years of Engineering and Supply Chain Planning experience working in the Specialty Chemicals, Consumer Packaged Goods and Wine Industries.

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