What does it take to qualify as a genius?


It’s really quite simple (defining what it takes, that is, not being a real genius).


True genius is to look at the same things that everyone else is looking at, but to see something entirely different.

What it takes

True genius is the ability to look at the same things that everyone else is looking at, but seeing something entirely different.

  • Isaac Newton saw gravity where everyone else saw only objects falling to the earth.
  • Henry Ford saw automobiles for the common man where everyone else saw only cars for the wealthy
  • Cornelius Vanderbilt saw railroads—even transcontinental railroads—while others saw only steamboats and short-line railroads
  • Andrew Carnegie saw mass production of steel—enough to support the building of a thousands of miles of railroad tracks and enough locomotives to move goods nationwide—where others saw only a few small mills of limited capacity
  • J.P. Morgan saw the need for electricity and huge capital sums for industry where others saw only conventional power sources (e.g., water power) and small, local industries
  • John D. Rockefeller saw the need for gasoline—and the pipelines to transport it—to power a whole new world of automobiles while others were seeing only horses and carriages


Each of these men looked at a changing world, and saw through that change to what could be—indeed, what needed to be in order to allow the world reach its full potential.


You might recall—if you’re really quite a few years old—something we used to call carbon paper.


Xerox Corporation saw the world that needed to make copies—millions of copies—and found a way to sell copy machines to a whole world that didn’t even know they needed a copy machine. Now, we can’t live without them.


Unfortunately, they also invented the world’s first computer mouse, but failed to see the vision for its full value.


The genius supply chain manager

What will separate the genius and near genius supply chain managers and executives of today from the rest of the pack? What will make the difference between those supply chains and enterprises that emerge as dominant in their industries—versus the rest of the also-rans?


That answer, too, is quite simple.


The geniuses among supply chain managers and executives today will be those who see and understand the current situation in the world’s marketplaces as being full of complexities and uncertainties, and fully comprehend that traditional tools like MRP, MRPII, APS, advanced planning and forecasting tools, and even Big Data are incapable of solving the problem. This generation of geniuses will recognize that complexity and uncertainty are growing so fast that being “in control” is little more than a fantasy to be grasped at.


These geniuses will recognize that what is needed is not finite answers to the questions

  • How much should we make or buy?
  • When should we make or buy it?


Instead, the new supply chain geniuses will see through the fog and realize that precisely wrong answers are not effective.


What is needed is “good enough control” to maintain the FLOW of relevant information and relevant materials across the supply chain.


Good enough control

The genius supply chain managers will seize upon good enough control, recognizing that the weakest link in their supply chain is not necessarily a given point or resource. The weakest link is any system or methodology that fails to protect and sustain FLOW by mitigating against variability.


Good enough control, they will see, comes in the form of BUFFERS that strategically protect and sustain FLOW. They will come to understand the value of building a variety of buffers into their supply chains:

  • Stock buffers
  • Time buffers
  • Capacity buffers


And, this new breed of geniuses will recognize that the conditions found in these buffers can help them set unambiguous priorities for action and long-term buffer analytics on buffer performance can help guide their POOGI (process of ongoing improvement).


These will be the demand-driven supply chain geniuses that will make a difference in the companies, in their supply chains, and in their industries. And their supply chains and companies will be more profitable for having the wisdom to hire and encourage these geniuses in their pursuit of supply chain excellence.


What about you?

Isn’t it time for your supply chain genius to shine through?


Let us know your thoughts by leaving them in the comments below, or by contacting us directly, if you prefer.



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