Definition - Trade-Off

Frankly, I’m concerned

I keep reading statements like these in the supply chain management literature:


“Effective inventory management all boils down to a delicate balancing act….”


“Your job as an inventory manager is to strike a compromise between conflicting priorities--and those of your colleagues.”


Wow! That second one is a real stinger!


As an inventory manager, not only are you expected to function managing inner conflict—that is, your own “conflicting priorities”—but you’re also expected “to strike a compromise” between additional conflicts that are part of the domains your colleagues manage.

Trade-offs and compromises

The Merriam Webster online dictionary defines “trade-off” as “a balance of factors all of which are not attainable at the same time.”


So, if you find yourself believing this is the true case for inventory and supply chain managers, here are my questions for you:

  1. Just why is it that your organization is in conflict with itself?
  2. Isn’t there a single, unified goal around which you could unite and end the conflicts and compromises?

Let’s face it

If your answer to the second question above is, “No,” then let’s face it. Your organization and your supply chain will need to resign itself to mediocrity.

Quote Debra Smith on Organizational Conflict



Simply because, as Debra Smith so keenly observed and articulated in The Measurement Nightmare*, if your organization is in conflict with itself, then it really doesn’t make much difference how good your strategies might be. Execution on strategy, when trade-offs and compromises are involved, will almost always lead to mediocrity—except by chance. Trade-offs and compromises are the enemy of excellence in execution.


We don’t believe it

We don’t believe supply chain and inventory managers need to make trade-offs between factors such as costs, speed, service levels, quality, flexibility and reliability.


We believe—and have the evidence to prove—that you really can have it all!


In a conscientiously applied program of DDS&OP (demand-driven sales and operations planning), we are confident that you can truly unite your entire organization around a single goal. And, you will be able to extend that unifying effect up and down your supply chain. You can end conflicting signals and function without all of the constant firefighting and finger-pointing.


In fact, we can help you do it.


Tell us how you’re doing at ending trade-offs and compromises by leaving your comments below, or by contacting us directly, if you prefer. We would be delighted to hear from you.



* Smith, Debra. The Measurement Nightmare - How the Theory of Constraints Can Resolve Conflicting Strategies, Policies, and Measures. Boca Raton, FL: St. Lucie Press, 2000.



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