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I interviewed Robinson Balestero who discussed Logistics Engineering and Some of the Benefits.







It’s good to speak with you again, Robinson. It’s been a long time since we did our last interview. Today I’m looking forward to hearing the discussion you want to have about logistics engineering and some of the benefits. Can you first provide a brief background of yourself?


Yes, I’m a supply chain manager for important, the group of equipment manufacturer, which is a European-based company. My previous experience was in construction machine manufacturing, which has some similar activities because of being a complex manufacturing industry. Before that I was working in a group of companies focused on education material, a group of companies on the franchise model, and I think our previous conversation was when I was in that position.


Can you explain more about your views on logistics engineering and how it can be used?


Sure. For any industry, especially the manufacturing industry, I think to focus on turning the logistics into a high-level logistics activity, logistics engineering or an intelligence logistics area would be very interesting to be established. I have recently had this experience, and I would recommend it for any supply chain manager, or director who’s working in a complex industry. For example, one of the things that we have been performing is process mapping and review. If you have a process in any activity and any department in a company that has several internal process, sometimes other processes are connected with other areas, and if you don’t make sure these processes are really competitive, they are quick enough, they are at the proper level, you probably will lose money, and at the end your results will not be good.


In my case, implementing some lean tools in this logistics engineering area has had very good results. For example, running a VSM, value stream mapping, on a process to make sure that each operation under processes duly to the nature of the operation, everything has been really improved. And then very fine which operation has added better for the process results. Those who have no added value or maybe they are just being turning the process too much complex. With identifying this type of activities in each process, it will really help you to get rid of the things that are not helping to, making your process productive and efficient. This is one of the things we’ve been performing in this logistics engineering area. I also tell you about interfacing with the engineering area, process and product engineering. Integration is key in any organization. You should have a competent department, but he’s isolated with his fashions, his activity.


Of course, he will probably upgrade maybe even in a good level but, autonomously, without the proper integration, the company will lose. The company will be, at the end, probably a little divided and not united. A union is key for any organization to survive in this very complex, competitive world that we live in today. In any manufacturing company, this will be also necessary to have this integration between the process of logistics engineering and the other engineerings in the company so they can talk the same language and they can be on the same page. One of the technical and important features of this activity, logistics engineering, is packing specification. If you don’t let your supplier know exactly how he has to pack their materials, the materials purchased for your procession, for your transformation, for your manufacturing, of course you do in the original, his original design, which may not necessarily meet your needs.


But if you specify exactly what is the material he has to pack your product with or how he has to pack your material, the product he’s shipping to you, then, of course, he’ll be in the best position to service you and to deliver the material in a way you really need it. An external will enable you to handle it the most efficient way. For example, when it comes to transporting or to storing or to handling, unpacking, filling the production line, all this will be much more efficient, will be much more productive if your packaging was really in the way you need.


Of course, you have to contractualize once you have examined and once you have reached the conclusion of which type of packaging material and how each product must be packaged, you have to contractualize this with your supplier; otherwise, you run a risk of his not meeting your needs the way explained to him. It’s especially important for materials of A- and B-class because they are much more, most cases, much more important in terms of value for your inventory, so you will have to manage them with a focus and to prioritize this type of material in many cases because of their financial value, the inventory that they carry there.


Also, just to give an example how packaging specifications are important, for sensitive material, we will have a standard shipping by sea, for example. You may need special protection; sometimes you may need anti-rust application, anti-rust material, special packaging or bubble plastic, as I have a recent case that we had that case, especially when you’re sea-freighting material in long distance. For example, I’m in Brazil today but shipping from Brazil to China, for example, from China to Brazil, which are long distances, if you don’t have the proper packaging, you may have little damages to the material, and this will cost for us. Until you have a replacement, you have trouble to manage. Maybe you have to go to a freight which will cost much more. This is just an example to illustrate how packaging specification’s very important.


Logistics specification should be very close to packaging specification as well. There’s a little difference. Of course, you have to externalize your supplier, to explain to him not only supplier but service providers, as well, like transport companies, customs brokers, and things like that; they have to know exactly what is the type of handling or what really requires special attention in terms of moving your material from one place to another or storing, if you have storage places outside your company.


If you don’t really specify these kinds of details to him or to these companies that provide you transportation, storage, and things like that, you will probably not get the best service at all. In terms of handling material, it requires a lot of operations. For example, loading materials, transporting and loading, shipping, if you don’t really specify to each of these players which is the type of logistics operations required for them and which format and with what material or equipment, you probably will not get the best service. Inside the manufacturing plant, logistics engineering is also important relating to feeding the production line.


If you’re talking about a complex manufacturing plant or product being produced, you’ll see the need for assembling some racks so they can carry the material, each part of each material or each product to the specific workstation in the production line. Not only that, so that there’s no missing material, no missing parts, there is no part in excess or material in excess as well, but also to respect ergonomy of your operators. If the assembly technician is working there and he asks you to bolt down, every time he asks you to take a part almost in the ground, so this could damage his health to a certain extent. This logistics engineering will be important in this way as well.


Also, when you’re talking about C-class material, material that you may have a lot of part numbers for but they don’t cost as much as A and B materials. Even so, some people ignore it a little bit. A screw, for example, which will be, in many cases, a C-class, it’s not too important, I think, to purchase or to manage or to handle, but if you’re talking about millions of screws, it’s different. It’s a C-class but it’s important, not in terms of annual budget for that item to be purchased and to be managed but also in terms of fitting a line. You can just imagine how catastrophic it would be for a production line to stop or shut down because it’s missing a screw.


When it comes to line fitting, this management of C-class is very important, and there is a very common process for doing that, which is a rack with a lot of bins. In each position there are two bins; they are two different colors, of course. In one of them the supplier or, if it’s an internalized process, the line fitters, they will place the C-class item in the first bin and the second one as well. When you have run out of materials in the first bin, the second one will come up, and this first one will go back. Then you’ll see it, because they’re two different colors, you’ll see visually from a distance how many items are to be replenished. If you have, for example, a rack with a hundred bins and you can see that there are a few, just five or ten bins that must be replaced, or if you have ninety of those bins to be replaced.


Logistics can provide support for production. Also flow, logistics flow, you have to also define which art of flow you’re going to work with. For example, pull flow, push flow, just in time, or another type of flow. For example, the supplier has to deliver by searching the material product directly to the production line, which is a kind of flow. You have to specify all these flows, and, of course, you have to identify which category of material, which commodity will be in each type of this flow, logistics flow, so that you can provide the best customer production line. Also, I’ll say that other tools and concepts are very important to make the supply chain and also logistics itself more efficient if possible. Applying best practices and the idea of continuous improvement is, I would say, you’d be in the core of this logistics engineering function.


Going ahead, results would be, as I told you before, productivity if you shall see the service level will, for sure, be in better shape if you apply these concepts. And, of course, because day-to-day monitoring and managing all these items that compose this activity of logistics engineering would help to grow up with this. of course, and I was just talking about the lean concepts.


You have so many tools, so many things you could use to improve your processes. For example, 5S, fishbone, 5Ys, and others, many of these quality tools as well. You can use all this; it depends, of course, on the application, but you can discern which one will be useful for a certain activity. Summarizing, I would say that logistics engineering for a complex manufacturing company would be very, very important to really increase efficiency and service level while decreasing cost.


Thanks, Robinson.




About Robinson Balestero



Robinson Balestero


Supply Chain Manager

Alstom Transport


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Lalit Panda who discussed Where C-Suite Thinking Fails at Supply Chain Optimization.







Would you like to give a brief background of yourself?


Like I mentioned, I’ve had three C-suite experiences heading IT function in multinational corporations, so I’ve watched the interactions in the C-suite at close quarters. I’ve also had, prior to that, two decades of supply chain experience. I bring a perspective about the issues that we’re going to discuss in this call.


Why does the C-suite not take a long-term view on things? Do you have any examples pertaining to supply chains?


The C-suite, I think it’s a fundamental paradox in the U.S. C-suite thinking, which is that the view is specially focused on the share price and investors, and that’s partly because the CEO of public organizations are generally part of the board, and, usually, the shareholder value in the short-term is a very key driver. But the paradox here and the conundrum is that in order to impact the investor value, there are some long-term decisions that have to be considered in terms of process. I think if you look at supply chain, for instance, having the right platform in order for the organization to improve in a sustainable manner the efficiency and the productivity in the supply chain, it is important and that’s something that needs to be invested in and takes time to implement while this process changes. the conundrum is that it distracts the C-suite from the short-term earning scores that, generally, the team has to report. That’s a conundrum that impacts on how much value is now being extracted from the supply chain.


There are, of course, organizations that have a long-term view and invest in the right systems for process efficiency, but, in general, I think the driver of short-term financial reporting limits the organization’s view on how technology and process changes can improve the supply chain efficiency over the longer term.


Can you talk more about what problems this creates?


Well, the first thing it creates is the fact that there is immense pressure around supply chain folks to meet the short-term goals. With that, sometimes the suboptimization prevents the value from being realized. For instance, if we wanted to reduce cost in the supply chain by apportioning fixed costs by moving more volume without understanding the dynamics of the demand, you’d end up with excess inventory that blocks up cash on the balance sheet and also leads to margin depreciation.


I think the key here is to be able to use the process and the tools and the technologies to be able to produce the right quantity of the right product at the right time. That involves a substantial amount of process work that needs to be done. What happens in general is the supply chain pressures of making the short-term revenue goals that prevent the focus on developing the process. In the short-term you get a suboptimal performance of the supply chain, and you miss out on the long-term value that could be created.


That’s why I think it’s key that the CEO and the team view this strategically and the CFO view is generally of short-term cost optimization, and that needs to be balanced by the grunt work of process changes and system enablers. It’s not that the CFOs do not understand the value, but it is a question of tradeoffs, and I think the CEO and the rest of the management team need to consider the impact of having process improvements deliver in the longer term. So, short-term pain for long-term gain would be the recommended approach here.


How can this be changed? Is there more you can say about how to change this?


I think the key is for the executives in the C-suites to have a very open and robust debate about these things and also be able to articulate that in the external communications, especially when these process works inhibit short-term results. The investor community is not generally very forgiving about not meeting certain earning expectations.


This can be approached through good communications to explain the view that the supply chain needs process and technology investment in order for it to deliver better value over the long-term. In a sense, that value can be substantially higher than meeting the short-term earning scores. I think if that communication is done effectively, the pressure on the executive time to focus on the short-term, may be modulated somewhat, allowing them to be able to deliver some improved value.



That’s, I think, my recommendation: There has to be some discussion, some mediation, some evaluation of all these process-improvement opportunities in order for the organization to be sustainably improving their supply chain performance over a period of time.


And thanks again, Lalit.


You’re welcome, Dustin, it was great talking to you, and I look forward to chatting again in the future.




About Lalit Panda



Lalit Panda

Chief Information Officer



LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Michael Rada who discussed Sustainability as a Future. He has set up a network of companies which are able to up-cycle and utilize waste products to help manufacturers save money.







It’s nice to speak with you today again, Michael. We’ve done interviews in the past. It’s been a year or so or maybe more since the last time we talked. Today I’m looking forward to hearing your views on the topic of sustainability as a future. Can you start by providing a brief background of yourself?



Yes. I would like to thank you for the interview, and thank you for calling me. It’s already three years, so it’s quite a long time when we talked together. Let me introduce myself. My name is Michael Rada, and at the moment I’m the president of International Business Center of Sustainable Development, which I’m opening right now. My background is about more than 20 years in logistics. The past five years I spent in an international corporation, the second largest in Japan, as a business-development manager. Since one year I’m an individual entrepreneur, and I’m targeting sustainability and efficiency, mainly efficiency in a global supply chain, so not only on one side or in one process but a global one. Generally, I deal with industrial within Czech Republic, Europe, and some of them in Asia as well to help them improve the efficiency of the global supply chain and to reduce the amount of generated waste in the production.


How do you define sustainability?


Sustainability for me, it’s a way to prevent waste. Generally, because waste can be prevented if we do not put things in the garbage, if I say so. Sustainability for me, it’s something which is closely connected to the issue of chain, like a supply chain. A chain starts to be misunderstood by many as a part of something, but chain is a complexity, it’s a harmony, and sustainability is for me, a harmony of action which results in a future on the Earth; otherwise, we will not be able to survive for another hundred years or thousand years on the Earth. This is how I define sustainability. Do not produce waste, start reduction of waste.


Why do we need sustainability for our future?


If we do not start to think and act sustainable, we will exploit all our resources which are existing on the Earth. Generally, this will result in.. it’s already now, it’s visible. There is a shortage of water. Even in California, such a rich state of the U.S., there is a lot of resources. But, in reality, this is not so. The resources exist; they are already here but we are not using them sustainably. We produce a mobile phone. Next year we buy other one, and this one is put as waste generally, but it’s wrong because in this old one, there is a lot of material which can be utilized.


At the moment if I throw my old mobile in a garbage bin, it’s garbage. I cannot utilize it anymore because it’s garbage, it’s waste. If I stop it before and I do it sustainably, then I work with the resources which are existing. Unfortunately, there is a big group of people which I call waste companies—and these waste companies generally live from wanting more waste. My intention is to stop it because we do not have to produce it. This is why sustainability is so important. We would like to have resources, we would like to live like now, and we have to utilize the existing things, not throw it away.


How do you do this in practice?


It’s very simple. It’s unfortunate that it cannot be seen by video, but, generally, through the definition of waste, there starts everything. Waste is thing or material or whatever which you put on a place which is intended for the waste to store in.That means garbage bin, waste containers, and whatever.

But if you stop it, if you do not put it there, then it’s not waste. If I’m in a factory and this factory utilizes shipments from overseas which are protected by polystyrene inlays, generally, I’m going to generate 400 tons a year and put this in a container, standard shipping container. This container is able, 40-foot container is able to carry on a 900-kilo, and this client has 400 tons a year. You can imagine the volume of traffic. How we change this, we stop to put it in the garbage bin, and we find out a production company which produces out of this, make the original material which are the small, white balls generally and produce new products out of it.

But we have to stop it before it becomes waste. The client did not invest any penny; he just started to utilize or the change to process, not put in a garbage bin but place in their returnable package.


This returnable package was then delivered to the production company and so on. This is very simple: Don’t throw things in the garbage bin. Stop it before and think, whether you can utilize it, and if not, find somebody who can help you to find utilization.


In production facilities all around the world what I have seen, and I am almost daily in a production factory, there is a lot of obsolete materials. It’s one of the most expensive ones.


Still, the companies prepare to generate waste instead of spend time to change this and find somebody who will buy the obsolete one.


International Business Center of Sustainable Development is this one supporter which found out the way and have a network of companies which are able to up-cycle, utilize, really do it up to the maximum to save the money.


Back to the polystyrene story, the company was paying 10 million Czech Korunas yearly to get the rate of this waste generated by polystyrene. By investing zero because they just changed the process, they are in plus 50 million yen, which means 60 million yen within one year without investing a single penny. This is a type of sustainability. It does not have to cost a lot of money even though investment is needed; just change of the process.


Thank you, Michael, for sharing today.


You are welcome.



About Michael Rada



Michael Rada


President and Project Father of




LinkedIn Profile


I interviewed Lalit Panda who discussed Big Data and the Supply Chain.







Before we start, can you provide a brief background of yourself?


Sure. Great to talk to you, Dustin, again. After two decades of supply chain, my last three assignments have been in the C-suite, heading the IT function in global multinational companies. These are multibillion-dollar companies in various industries, ranging from consumer electronics to agrochemicals, to mining. It’s been an interesting journey, and it’s nice to share some of the perspectives I have gained through this multi-industry experience. The topics that we’re going to talk about, I think we’ve had some opportunity to think through some of the issues in these various industries, so I’m happy to share the learnings with you and your audience.


What are the data points with big data analytics that are used for coming up with useful conclusions in supply chains?


Yes. Big data is the topic of the day, as you know. There’s a lot of discussion going on because the whole concept of data analysis has gone from descriptive to predictive, to prescriptive now. Big data itself has multiple meanings for different people, so it’s used to mean what people want it to mean.


Most of the work in terms of analytics around big data has happened on the customer side of the equation. On the operations side, I think the penetration of the capabilities that big data has brought to the table has been somewhat limited. As you know, in supply chains, there are tons of data points that get acquired as the operations move. For instance, if you take an example of a chemical company. There are plant-control systems that generate something like 7,000 to 25,000 data points a second, so huge streams of data that come through. On the distribution side, location and movement details of each individual SKU and product through the supply chain, and that’s a lot of data points as it moves through the supply chain, especially long supply chains like consumer electronics. There’s a ton of data out there that now we have the technology to be able to capture and store and analyze.


What happened is I think the technology has gone ahead of the ability to construct models of how to utilize these vast troves of data that are being captured and how technology can help accomplish that. Supply chain’s a great source of details on the actionable data, and big data analytics has immense applications in that area just as it is being done on the customer side and the outward facing part of the organization.


What can technology do to help facilitate decisions?


Well, the first thing is now that you have so much data points to be able to access that and make meaningful conclusions out of them, whether it is through actionable conclusions coming out of heuristics or statistics or just text-based queries, there’s a lot of technology out there that can help interrogate the data and draw conclusions so that organizations can respond effectively.


For instance, the example I was quoting before of the data points being captured in a chemical plant, for instance, the ability to react with that so you optimize the flow of material or the consumables into the plant is, I think, very integral to the optimal performance of the plant itself. In terms of taking the data and being able to put in the decision rules and the analytics that help drive deviations from the norm and highlight that to the individual operator so they can make the necessary adjustments I think is a very topical way of using big data analytics.


I think the bigger question in supply chain is the fact that in terms of optimizing the flow of product across a supply chain, being able to take the decisions at the right time based on detailed information. I think it’s a very critical element, as any supply chain manager knows. I think the key here, and this may be something to consider, is how you develop the capability to analyze that data that technology is now able to capture and provide in a platform.


How does this big data revolution translate into supply chains?


Like I said, supply chain, I think, has tremendous applications of the analytics around whether it is customer demand or product flow or manufacturing choices that people make. The integrated business-planning suite, which manages most of the area around supply chain, is a great source of detailed transaction-level data. In order to be able to query and analyze whether it is a straight textbook query or whether it is something where you look for deviations from the norm, I think that’s where the application of big data analytics becomes very useful. I think the key is being able to construct the right type of questions in order for that data to deliver the maximum amount of value for the organization. I think the interpretation of the data that’s available is going to be the key in the supply chain area to maximize the utilization of the data and its value.


Do you have any recommendations?


Yes, Dustin. I think the key recommendation I would make for organizations thinking about big data in the supply chain is to ensure that there’s a pool of talent not only to manage the data, but be able to query and interpret the data. I think the key is the understanding and analytics and being able to use the data.


The platform itself will, I think over time, become more of a commodity service, just as we have networks out there. Network providers provide the network, or communications capabilities are provided by outsourced software providers, infrastructure providers, but the key is for the organization to have the right talent within the supply chain to be able to ask the right questions with the data.


The ability to query the data for deviations for things that are out of the ordinary or things that need to be managed in order for the supply chain to be operating efficiently or in terms of discovering hidden patterns withinthe data. I think the key in big data is obviously pattern recognition, and that’s a different sort of skill than managing the flow of products through the supply chain. I think the key recommendation I would make is that organizations invest in the training & development of people to be able to utilize the big amount of information that’s available and make the right decisions.


Thank you, Lalit, for sharing.


You’re welcome.




About Lalit Panda



Lalit Panda

Chief Information Officer



LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Jevonte Lewis who discussed innovative approaches to solving the biggest problems of our time.


This 19 year old claims to have invented a technology and system that would prevent nuclear wars.


According to Jevonte, if someone were to shoot a bomb, like a nuclear bomb, his system would scan to the object, the mass, and it will absorb that energy out of it. If needed, there can also be a laser that can be operated to disintegrate the bomb once the bomb’s energy has been absorbed out of it.



It’s great to speak with you today, JeVonte. I’m looking forward to hearing your views, I know you’re innovating and inventing some interesting products and you have a business that you started, and there’s some relation to supply chain as well. Can you start by providing a brief background of yourself?


Well, like I said, I’m young; I’m 19. All of this is basically, everything comes from God. It’s kind of like a biblical thing. I’ve been inventing stuff, and I’ve been playing with electricity since I was seven, six. It’s always amazed my mother and grandmother. It just was a talent that I kept to myself until basically now. Basically, all of that led to the founding of my company. That company is Natural Energies. Before that company, it was Innovative Inventors. That’s just basically a startup company; we helped people as far as consulting with funding and we do business assistance. We may help you write business plans or whatever it takes to get a business started. That’s a good help these days because a lot of people feel they don’t have the abilities and capabilities to start a business and run a business. It’s really all within the person to do it. Those were my types of supply chains.


This sounds fascinating. Can you talk more about the energy business that you’re starting up?


Right. It’s Natural Energies, Inc. Basically what it does is, the company, it protects us, protects the world, and that is the goal, to get to protecting the world from nuclear bombs, nuclear threats, anything they try to wipe out mass people with those bombs.


With Natural Energies, Inc., I have invented a system that could just basically disrupt all of that. There’s just a major help for us. That’s of God; that’s not me. Like I said, I’m young, but God gave it to me to do this. That’s exactly how I’m doing it. I’m not doing it how I want to do it; I’m doing it like God wants to see it done, because these are threats. Overseas now, they’re fighting and shooting rockets at each other and stuff. That stuff, it really doesn’t even make sense. People are supposed to be grown; they can handle business like grown men and sit down and talk about it instead of a 72-hour ceasefire. That’s where Natural Energies, Inc. comes in. We just don’t want to see people die; that’s not anything that’s good. We’ll stop all of that if necessary.


Is there anything you can say about what your technology does or the benefits or features?


I can’t really describe the workings of it basically, but what I can tell you is that, if they were to shoot a bomb over here, like a nuclear bomb, they’ve got it in a plane or whatever they’re trying to do with it, we all know that those bombs, they all take energy to detonate. What my system does, it would just scan to the object, the mass, and it’ll absorb that energy out of it. If needed, there can also be a laser that can be operated to disintegrate the bomb once the bomb’s energy has been absorbed out of it.


Have you announced your product to any other people in the world yet, or have you just invented it?


No, it goes back to 2012. It’s not anything that happens overnight. This is something that really, you have to really sit down with the right people to get the right things accomplished. I may not disclose their names, but there are people who helped with this project and it’s getting accomplished like it should be. I see it as everything doesn’t happen overnight; it’s not just something like you have this big, major invention. “We can give you five million dollars,” or, “We can give you ten million dollars, and you can sell it to us,” blah, blah, blah. I don’t want to do any of that; I want to really sit down, and I really want to think about this and handle it the right way.


Have you seen any potential applications in the business world?


Oh yeah. Like I said, it’s a process. Natural Energies, Inc., that is my business, but I’m cooperating with affiliates. Basically, what they do is help. These are countries, these affiliates are countries. These are not specific people; these are countries in the whole. Countries that don’t want to see nuclear warfare anymore, don’t even want to think about it. They don’t want to sit back and say, “Oh, anything can happen. We can die any day.” I don’t even like to hear stuff like that. That’s why I want to get this done the right way. Like I said, it takes time and stuff.


Do you have any recommendations for people who are also interested or have the same line of thinking as you?


I actually do. If I recommend anyone else, I would say people like Mark Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook. The reason why I say that is because he started Facebook for the simple reason of people getting the information across globally. That’s just the freedom of truth; that’s what that is.


Like I said, it’s all about God. First and foremost, that’s who I would recommend. I would recommend God. A lot of people put ***** ****** before God. ***** never wanted that. If you really pay attention to *****' word, he never wanted that. He wanted God. He always said God is first; that’s who you put, God first. And I also would recommend my movement on Facebook, God’s Movement, the return of ******; it’s basically the Book of Life. Like I said, it’s all energetic; it’s of God.


You can, all of this, it comes from the hope in what they see that verified those Christians 2000 years ago. They put this on a rock. How could this not be real? How could this not be me? This is on a rock, me and my invention, exactly how it works and operates. That’s just enough said right there. And you read Revelations. And when you read Revelations, you see that it’s talking about the exact same thing. It’s just me, that’s all it is. Like I said, this would really be of use to your blog or whatever because all this is really verified. This is nothing that anyone can say, like, “Oh, this is not true,” or, “This doesn’t work. There’s no way a nineteen-year-old man can do that.” Well, it is and I found a way and I made a way. The only way I did that is with God. That’s who I recommend first.


There will be some readers that’ll be skeptical. Maybe they will want to see some proof or something they can see. Do you have any demonstrations or a Web site or some more information people can search if they’re interested?


Yeah, I do. If you get on YouTube, just type in laser missile defense system; you can just type that in. that’s just some of the capabilities, how you can accomplish this, just absorbing energy out of bombs. It’s making them dead, just dead bombs; they can’t blow up. That’s a blessing. A lot of people need to know about this. That’s how I feel. Why shouldn’t everyone else feel the same way?


What is your dream for the near future? What do you want to accomplish?


Like I said, there’s no dream or anything. Like I said, this, it’s all of God, so I’ll continue on that path, that path that made me who I am. Like I said, this is all spiritual. I didn’t expect this. I really didn’t expect any of this. This happened to me all overnight as far as with God and me just exploring myself and my talent, the true talent that I have within myself and just inventing this one system that’s just made a big impact on this whole entire world, this whole entire world. It’s nothing to smile about; it’s nothing to smile about. It’s serious.


We have to think about all these people, they can’t do anything now. That’s what you’ve got to think about. If they threaten us now. You see what happened to Kim Jong-un; he can’t do anything. There’s no way, people are not going to die over here, and that is my goal and my dream. If you ask about a dream, that’s what I see: the whole entire world not having this. People might not mess with the United States of America, but who’s to say they don’t want to send a nuclear bomb over to Israel? Or who’s to say they don’t want to send a nuclear bomb to Africa or Europe? That is my dream, to really see all of that accomplished and all of these countries having this system, just having their protection, and they don’t have to worry about this anymore. This is what can get, the picture, and everybody can just live a comfortable life and not have that fear anymore.


Is there a system people can use to develop their own abilities to invent, or is there no established way of doing it? If other people want to do what you’re doing, how can they develop their abilities?


Just read Genesis; that’s what I would say. It’s not anything that anyone can do that I’ve done. I’ve passed Einstein. Einstein helped me develop my theory of quantum. That’s also something that’s also classified. I could say something about it. It’s not like that, but just all of that, because God is first. Like I said, just read the Bible. That’s all they have to do; it’s a very wise book. If you want to even see what I’m talking about or if you could even understand, heart to heart, you would have to read the Bible.


What are your recommendations for entrepreneurs or people who want to become business owners?


I would say there’s always a way you could start up businesses. Like I said, my company, we offer that assistance, Innovative Inventors, the company I was telling you about before Natural Energies. We offer that assistance. Like I said, a business plan makes a big difference. The startup process, that is a big difference. That can sometimes guarantee people funding to open their own business, especially when you have the right funders in place and when it really gets serious to opening your own business. I would recommend just do that before anything. Always develop a business plan to see how things work first. It’s all about the long-term; it’s not about short-term and what you can do a year from now or two years from now. We’ve got to think about five years and ten years, fifteen years from now. That’s what a business plan does, and it produces great results. Like I said, my company, we offer those assistances, just anything needed in the area of business basically.


Are you interested in working with college students?


Yeah, that would be a great endeavor to achieve. Like I said, it’s all about God, though. I can’t just work with someone to learn something else different. It is what I know about quantum. People have told me—and these are people who graduated school and went to school ten years, maybe five years—they graduated from quantum physics, and they can just look at this and can’t understand it, but they can see that it works because it’s quantum, but it’s another understanding. It’s a whole other level; it’s a new class. I could teach a lot of people about this type of quantum, and that would be a great endeavor. I would love to work with college students or anything like that.


Is there anything else you think is important that we cover in this interview? I know it’s something very new and a lot of ground to cover. Any final words you’d like to discuss?


Nothing really. I just would like for people to have that assurance now in their heads, and they can know in their heads that all of this is for God and God did this. Just put God first; that’s all. It’s not about who has the most money or anything like that, because that’s how people look at it. It’s not all about that because that’s guaranteed. It’s all about protection; it’s all about God; it’s all about peace, safety, and stability for this economy to stand how I see it. People need to have that assurance in their heads and know that now, nuclear warfare and all of that stuff is over. That is done. They can thank God for that; don’t thank JeVonte. Don’t thank JeVonte ever. Don’t thank me; thank God. That’s who to thank.


Thanks for sharing today.


Yeah, that’s no problem. Anytime, Dustin. I’m always available if you want to learn or know more about what I’m doing.


I hope we can do another interview in the near future. Also, we’ll see the feedback we get from this interview, and there might be additional questions we could discuss.


Okay. That’ll be great.


Great, thank you.


All right.




About JeVonte Lewis



JeVonte Lewis


Founder, President, C.E.O

Innovative Inventors

LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Rod Collins who discussed 'Why Companies Struggle with Innovation and Collaboration'.






It’s great to speak with you again, Rod. We’ve done great interviews in the past, and I’m looking forward today to discuss this new topic about why companies struggle with innovation and collaboration. Can you start by providing a brief background of yourself?


Yes. My name is Rod Collins. I’m the director of innovation with a national management consulting firm in the United States called Optimity Advisors. We work with companies so that they can manage and change as fast as the world around them. I think one of the biggest problems facing companies today is that the world is changing much faster than their organizations, so we work with companies to put in place processes that can help them to work faster and more creatively.


Why do companies struggle with innovation and collaboration?


Well, the main reason is, most companies are not designed for either innovation or collaboration. This is something that is uppermost in CEOs’ minds. As most of our listeners probably realize, IBM, every two years, does a study in which it interviews more than 1,500 CEOs in both the public and the private sectors all over the globe. In their last two studies, two key findings that they found were, in the most previous study, CEOs, more than 75 percent of them identify collaborations a critical core competency. But what is probably most interesting in that study is that more than 50 percent of them were not exactly sure what they were going to do.


In a prior IBM study, when asked what the most important skill they were looking for in executives was, it wasn’t the usual analytical skills or individual intelligence; it was creativity. On some level the CEOs are recognizing the need for innovation and for collaboration, but they’re not sure what to do. I think that’s because, probably, the thing that comes to mind when they think innovation is probably inventions. You look at things like iPhones and iPads, and they probably look and go, “Why can’t we make stuff like that?” When they look at collaboration, they’re probably thinking of coordination or cooperation and wondering, What can I do to get my people to behave more cooperatively? I think the reason they struggle is, they’re focused on the outputs of innovation and collaboration but don’t understand what the essentials elements that create the circumstances for it to happen are. Let’s take innovation first.


Again, I mentioned that when CEOs think about innovation, they’re probably thinking about innovations, but the essential element that makes innovation work is the phenomenon called serendipity. Serendipity is the capacity to connect unusual things. In order for serendipity to happen, you need a free flow of ideas and a free flow of people and a lot of diverse people bumping into each other who usually don’t bump into each other. In traditional companies that’s a problem because as much as we detest silos, they still work in silos. Every day the finance people interact with the finance people, and every day the marketing people interact with the marketing people, so that doesn’t create much opportunity for serendipity. Contrast that with a company like Google. Google is as well-known provides free food on its campuses, and one of the reasons they do that, it’s not primarily as an employee benefit as it creates circumstances for serendipity.


Why is it that some of these companies have Ping-Pong tables and tennis courts and all kinds of recreational things? Because those types of gatherings, if you will, which they see as valuable to work, are also places where serendipity happens. The ability to connect unusual things is the soil in which creativity happens. A little quote on this, Steve Jobs defines creativity as the simple act of “connecting things,” which means any of us can be creative. We don’t have to be songwriters, we don’t have to be artists; we just have to put ourselves in circumstances where we connect things.


Now, let’s shift over to collaboration. Again, I think what CEOs think of when collaboration comes to mind is cooperation, coordination. These are things that when hierarchies work well are in place; however, it’s not enough in a fast-changing world. Jane McGonigal wrote this book called Reality is Broken a few years back. She has the best definition of collaboration I’ve ever encountered. She says in addition to coordination and cooperation, there’s a third element that needs to be present in order for an organization to be collaborative, and that third element is co-creation.


I think Jane would go so far as to say if you don’t have co-creation, you can’t have collaboration. Again, hierarchies are greatly handicapped there because the key C-word in a hierarchy is not co-creation, it’s compliance. It’s “do what you’re told; stick to the policies and procedures, to the way we’ve done things for decades.” Also, in hierarchies it’s the people at the top who decide what to do, and everybody else just needs to follow directions. Well, that’s not a formula for co-creation. Co-creation means that everybody in the organization needs to be involved in what the strategy will be and how we will execute it. That’s a foreign concept to hierarchies.


Again, if you think of a company like Google or a company like Gore and Associates, where there are no bosses or Morningstar, which is a tomato processor in California, there are also no bosses. The only way things get done in these companies is through co-creation. Co-creation is in the fabric of their organization.


When companies co-create you wind up creating the circumstances in which the workers you have are highly engaged. When your voice counts and when you have helped to set the direction and decide how we’re going to do things, that high level of engagement leads, also, to high levels of collaboration.


You combine that, again, with opportunities for serendipity; now you wind up having the resources that allow organizations to change as fast as the world around them. You and I talked about in the last time we got together, the network architecture that is much more conducive to this than the top-down hierarchy, which is why I believe going forward, the typical organization ten years from now will not be a top-down hierarchy; it’ll be peer-to-peer network where serendipity happens, lots of co-creation is how things get done, and these organizations will be much faster than the hierarchies we’ve known over the past couple of decades.


How do you help companies that are struggling with innovation and collaboration?


There are a couple things that need to be done. The first is, we call it resetting the three Ms: resetting the managers, resetting the meetings, and resetting the measures.


With respect to managers, what kills innovation in hierarchies is that too many people have the authority to kill good ideas and keep bad ideas alive. What we do is work with organizations—you don’t have to eliminate the managers, but you do have to eliminate the expanse of their sovereignty.


Managers and networks are coaches, facilitators, and their job is to help groups come to the best solutions that they can based upon their collective intelligence.


The manager’s role shifts from being the one who sets the direction to one helping the organization and its workers to let the best direction emerge from their collective thinking.


The second resetting is resetting the meetings. Meetings need to be places where collective intelligence can be aggregated and can be leveraged.


It means getting everybody together in the same place at the same time and doing it with some frequency so that there is iteration as we are co-creating what we’re doing. An example of a place where this is done very well is in Agile software development, where they work in sprints, where they have, oftentimes, daily standup meetings that are, oftentimes, no longer than 15 to 20 minutes, but everyone working on the project is meeting on a daily basis, checking in on what’s working, what’s not working, and how they can support each other.


It’s very simply that, just getting everybody in the same room at the same time.


The third one has to do with resetting the measures. What’s happening there is, we need to shift from measures where people are accountable just to single supervisors who, oftentimes, are working in cross purposes with other supervisors. You want to set up a discipline of peer accountability.


What drives co-creation is when workers feel that they are all each other’s mutual customers. An example of where that’s done well is, I mentioned Morningstar. Again, this is a company that doesn’t have any supervisors.


The way things get done there is that at the beginning of each year, they craft what are called colleague letters of understanding. The different people who are working together in terms of producing tomato products like they do work out specific metrics where each of them promises to deliver what needs to be delivered, and the others with whom they work, they measure those frequently and they’re held accountable to them and that affects their compensation. That structure of peer accountability works quite well. Morningstar is the world’s largest tomato processor and has been operating in this structure for about 25 years, so it’s a structure that can work. Those are the things that companies can do.


Again, resetting the three Ms: the managers, the meetings, and the measures.


Thanks, Rod. Do you have any final recommendations?


Yes; build a network, not a hierarchy.


Great. Did we cover everything you wanted to discuss?


Yes. Again, keep in mind, if you want innovation and collaboration, then you need to set up your organization so serendipity happens and people are co-creating the work.


Great, thank you.


Thank you, Dustin.




About Rod Collins



Rod Collins


Author, Speaker, and Innovation &

Organizational Design Expert

Optimity Advisors


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Murillo Xavier who discussed Redesign of Complex Supply Chains.






It’s good to speak with you today, Murillo. It’s been a while since we talked. We did an interview in the past. Today your topic is: redesign of complex supply chains. Can you start by providing a brief background of yourself?


Sure. Hi, Dustin. It’s great to be here again. Let me introduce myself. I’m Murillo Xavier and I have been working with supply chain for almost over 20 years, also focusing in strategy and finance in supply chain. I worked for some of the Fortune 500 companies in Brazil and the United States. I’m also the author of some books on strategic sourcing and project management. I spent a brief part of my career working as a consultant for Pricewaterhouse Coopers and as a capital controller at Nestlé Waters. Currently, i work for HP, where I develop new strategies to transform supply chain and make the company more competitive. Also, my undergraduate was in industrial engineering, and I have an M.B.A. from Michigan State University and a few supply chain certifications from APICS and from ISM. Quite a good experience in supply chain, and I am glad to come here and talk to you and share some of my experience about complex supply chains.


What is involved in the redesign of complex supply chains?


It’s a very, very interesting topic. I love to talk about supply chain and all the complexities. Let me just give you some background on that, what makes a supply chain complex. For that, let’s go back to the ’80s, when most of the supply chains were still very vertical-integrated. At that time the companies wanted to manage each step of the manufacturing, thinking they could do a better job than their competitors, optimizing processes, managing people, and controlling costs. They thought they could have better quality, better velocity, better costs by controlling everything. In the ’90s several companies were already moving away from that idea. They were trying to move from a vertical integration, doing more outsourcing. It was only in the beginning of the ’90s, after a publication by Michael Porter, that companies started investing more in outsourcing.


Michael Porter stated that companies should focus on their core business and outsource the rest. Pretty much, he was suggesting that people should invest on their strengths. If you’re good doing something, go and do that something, and whatever you’re not very strong, outsource. You have, in each step of your supply chain, a very strong process. You have good people knowing what they are doing and doing what they do best. Let’s talk about the outsourcing.


What’s the problem with the outsourcing? By outsourcing the noncore business, other companies can experience better cost and have access to new capabilities, among other things. They have to make some tradeoffs. In these tradeoffs they will increase the complexity of the supply chain because now you have a new business partner, and with that new business partners, you have to create a whole infrastructure to support this partnership, and by that I mean all the communication with a partner, operational and strategical processes. We have new systems, new contracts, new control mechanisms, cultural aspects of the relationships, and many other small things that comes with this relationship, this kind of arrangement. At this point supply chain became significantly more complex.


On top of that, we started seeing a lot of mergers and acquisitions in several industries. Some of the companies trying to increase their portfolio of products to better attend their customers. They create a lot of complexity, introduce a lot of complexity, and the customers, they were demanding much more from the customers. They were not looking anymore for product; they want a solution, they want someone who sometimes could be a one-stop shop for all their needs. They didn’t want to specify what they want. In most cases they want to go to one of their suppliers and say, “Hey, this is my problem. What do you have for me?” and the companies then had to improve and reinvent themselves. We are talking about companies with a massive number of suppliers, partners, who acquire a new business, different technologies, and a very different customer base than what we had in the ’80s and ’90s.


All this evolution called a lot of complexity in our supply chain. Just to give an example about all these mergers and acquisitions that I am referring about, when I started with HP years ago, in the technology industry, I tried to understand a little background of the company, and I saw that in the past six years before I’d started at HP, HP had probably around 60 companies they acquired. IBM, in four years, had 40 acquisitions, and Dell had 11 acquisitions in two years prior to my start at HP. All the IT industry, they are very heavy in mergers and acquisitions. That’s the thing about complexity; it came very strong and very fast. Companies start putting together some process, some interfaces with the companies they acquired, and most of them never had a chance to redesign the entire process and see what makes sense. In a redesign what you try to do, we try to get rid of all the waste that we have, because we have a lot of processes that are duplicated, the communication doesn’t work very well; we’ve had a lot of double handling not only of material, but also information.


That’s the core of the redesign, just trying to understand what we have today and really go and do a clean-sheet exercise and try to see what would be the best process to handle all the material and all the information that have to go across the companies. The final goal is to have a seamless integration across the entire supply chain, to have all the suppliers working as one, as the same company, if everyone were in the same company. These would minimize all the downsizing of the outsourcing. When I talk about visibility, control over our strategy. If we have this seamless integration, everyone would be on the same page, following the same strategy, and that would allow for companies to maintain their competitivity.


How do you recommend taking on such a big task?


Well, I really like to follow a Lean Six Sigma approach, so I like the framework: define, measure, analyze, implement, and control. In the define step we try to really understand the problem, understand the different areas we want to attack. If we’re talking about a specific commodity in our company, if we’re talking about the business segment, if we are trying to redefine a change for a region. What problem are we trying to solve here? We’re trying to solve, also, inventory, lead times, quality issues. What is triggering this redesign? We define them and move to the measurements. We measure other relevant KPIs, which is necessary here. Usually for this kind of redesign, it’s a lot of inventory-related KPIs, so levels of inventory, aging of inventory, and several others here; also, time, cycle time, lead time.


There are a lot of measurements we take in order to understand how effective and how efficient our supply chain is. Once we have this picture and we do process mapping, we have a very good idea of the problems we’re facing right now with all the requirements of the supply chain, and then we can move to the next step, the analyze phase. In the analyze phase we will try to make sense of all this data and try to understand what’s causing the problems and come up with different structures, different options, different alternatives to tackle the problem. From there we will have some proposals to offer redesigning, and then we will move to the implementation phase, implement these new structures. Finally, in the control phase, we make sure we have the proper governance around these new processes, check to see if everything’s working well, and make any adjustments. That’s usually a very strong framework, so we base the redesign on data, and we keep measuring and making sure that we have the best solution implemented.


Do you have any success stories?


Yes. When I moved to HP, we had commodities that I was called to analyze, a particular commodity. For that commodity, we were trying to understand a little about the inventory at that time. We believed we had excess inventory for that commodity; and, in fact, we had excess inventory for some SKUs, and we had shortage for other SKUs. Then we tried to see what the problem was, what was causing that. We had problems, then, because of FRACAS, because of our manufacturing process, the complexity of our products, the number of partners we had. It was calling for a major redesign. We started this process many years ago, trying to understand what we had on our hands, so we did all the process mapping, we took all the different measurements, and in the end, we had a few steps, we wanted to implement a few proposals.


Some of those proposals involved SKU rationalization, so we reduced probably around 40 percent, the number of SKUs for that particular commodity. The interesting thing here is when you talk about a seamless integration across the supply chain, we realized that some of our partners, they had in their systems several SKUs that we were not using anymore. The information was not flowing across the supply chain, so we designed all this governance. Every time we were eliminating a SKU, we really wanted to make sure that our entire supply chain, they were eliminating the same SKU. The information had to flow and everyone would delete from their systems. We were verifying inventories across the supply chain to make sure that product was not in our systems, causing waste in the supply chain.


SKU rationalization was one of the steps. We had supply chain network redesigns, where we were trying to eliminate some notes, some double touch of products across the supply chain. We had, also, another point where our manufacturing strategy, we had several manufacturing steps, and we reviewed the supply chain segmentation, trying to understand for that particular commodity if we had fast-moving SKUs and slow-moving SKUs. For that, we tried to adjust one strategy for fast-moving SKUs; the other a different manufacturing strategy for slow-moving SKUs. It was a matter of understanding what we had on our hands, adjusting. The final proposal there was about collaborative planning. We were studying a better way to communicate with our suppliers, our partners, how we could come up with changes in our plan in almost real-time and release information available to everyone across our supply chain. We have several systems that can deal with this capability nowadays, and technology has evolved so fast and today we can do that.


Technology’s helping us a lot to solve a lot of problems that we had in the past and helping us with better integration of our supply chain. Several companies in the IT industry, they are taking the steps; some other companies, they experienced a dramatic reduction, for example, on-boarding of new suppliers, new capabilities for tracking products for greater visibility of inventories across the supply chain and to adjust for changes in the market. Now our supply chain’s much stronger for this commodity. Every time we have a change in demand, for example, we can communicate much faster with our suppliers. Everyone’s on the same page; we can adjust to any issue, any shortage in the market. It was a great case and worked very well.


Thanks for sharing today on this topic of the redesign of complex supply chains.


It was my pleasure.




About Murillo Xavier



Murillo Xavier


Strategic Development



LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Thomas Tanel who discussed Logistics/Supply Chain Talent Challenge : Talent Gap Shortfall and Skill Sets Needed.







Hi I’m Tom Tanel President and CEO of CATTAN Services Group Logistics and Supply Chain Management advisory, counseling, and training firm.  Dustin, thanks for having me back to discuss Part II of the Logistics/Supply Chain Talent Challenge.  As we discussed, I would like to focus on the talent gap shortfall and skill sets needed.

As an experienced workforce retires, how do we replace this depletion of experienced Baby Boomers?

According to Supply Chain Insights, 60 percent of companies within the supply chain industry have job openings and 51 percent of companies are seeing an increase in the turnover of supply chain leaders.  This is now! In the long run, you don’t replace this depletion of experienced Baby Boomers.


Looking ahead, the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts that the number of logistics jobs are expected to grow by 22 percent by 2022––nearly double the rate of other professions.  Therefore, we will be in a catch-up mode for a decade or more.

The whitepaper Are You Prepared for the Supply Chain Talent Crisis by MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL) is in agreement with other recent surveys as it states, “The supply chain faces a severe shortage of talent at a time when the demand on the profession have never been greater.”  Further in the report it says, “The net result is a talent tsunami.”


In some instances,the shortage of talent has simply occurred because companies have inadequate human resource management to support the recruitment and retention of talent.  And the 2008-2012 recession-related layoffs have greatly undermined industry’s ability to build back the profession's front-line workers and management talent.


The good news is that there is a vast pool of talent out there in the form of the many talented supply chain professionals who chose to leave the profession altogether orof people who for one reason or another have been away from the labor market for a long time.  And as I will address in Part III of this series, we can also replenish the logistics and supply chain work force with returning military veterans and separated logistics-oriented veterans who are reentering the workplace.


What key supply chain competencies and/or skill sets are needed to overcome this talent gap shortfall?


As a result, the immediate question is where we find people with both the breadth and depth of supply chain skills for a global operating environment with cost-to-serve tradeoffs that influence optimal supply chain design decisions.  That’s a tall order to fill considering the talent gap shortfall.


APQC recently conducted a survey, whose results indicate that there are skills gaps among recent supply chain job candidates.  These gaps primarily occur with more strategic skills.  As a result, recruiting and retaining supply chain talent is more of a talent shortageproblem for the strategic positions.


Andrea Jung, former Avon CEO, emphatically states, "Talent is the No. 1 priority for a CEO.  You think it's about vision and strategy, but you have to get the right people first." That means hiring the right person. One who can do the job but wants the opportunity.  How do you do that?  By answering the question, do you have the right people with the right skills when and where you need them?


What many executives don’t realize is that supply chain management is an activity that touches so many other parts of a company’s business.  For young people—front-line workers and management—it may appear complex and mystifying, but as a profession, we have the important task of explaining to the next generation exactly what is involved. However, setting out what the job entails is difficult for most HR types.  For that reason, we need to be clear to these millennials what we are looking for in terms of skills—the ability to: communicate well, solve problems, use IT effectively, demonstrate leadership, show organizational skills, and apply a creative, global mindset.


One of the key supply chain competencies needed to overcome this talent gap shortfall is the capacity to solve supply chain problems that you encounter day-to-day.  Namely, critical thinking.  This includes a skill set aimed at problem-solving and decision-making.  We are talking the innate ability to identify the problem; access and organize relevant information; discern causes and effects; generate options; and choose and implement a workable solution.


As a consequence, the supply chain job is no longer mostly a functional transaction and tactical based one.  It is a key strategic role that can influence up 60 to 70 percent of a company’s total costs, all of its inventory, and most aspects of customer service.  “In most firms, the supply chain controls most of the inventory; manages 60-70 percent of the cost; helps generate revenue by providing outstanding product availability; and manages many of the firm’s physical assets.  The Great Recession of 2008-2010 will increase the focus on a supply chain’s impact on the financial health of the firm.”, states Dr. Dittmann, Executive Director of The Global Supply Chain Institute at the University of Tennessee.


Therefore, the first talent gap shortfall is budgetary cost control. Additionally, supply chain management requires resource allocation to include facilities; material handling, storage and transport equipment; technology enablers and software; and both human and energy resources.  So the supply chain job today is no longer a logistics functional one.  Instead, it is a key strategic role that can influence 60 to 70 percent of a company’s total budgeted costs, all of its inventory, and most aspects of customer service.


The second biggest talent gap shortfall is in the realm of analytics according to Art van Bodegraven of Discovery Executive Services.  He says “those skills are insufficient without context and experience.”  Our colleges and universities seem to address the mathematical, statistical and quantitative methods in preparing graduates for supply chain analytics.  However, as van Bodegraven articulates with an example, “A mathematical analysis [could] lead us on one direction, but experience will point us in another.”


How do we address that while the number of supply chain university programs is increasing, the scope and depth of curriculum and the number of formally trained or degreed workers is lagging behind current needs?


Interestingly, Career Builder identified Logistician/Supply Chain Manager as a top growth job since it has experienced an 8% job growth since 2010. There is only one active candidate for every five jobs posted.


As colleges and universities introduce undergraduate majors, MBA concentrations, degree programs, the shortage of supply chain talent is generally attributed to a skills gap.  The Wall Street Journal recently reported that colleges and universities have recognized this as an opportunity—graduates who receive a degree in supply chain management—the “hot new MBA”.


Specifically, research has shown that graduates with undergraduate and graduate degrees in supply chain management are not adequately prepared for supply chain jobs, and that professionals within the supply chain do not have the skill set necessary to take on management roles.  A broad knowledge and skill set across the supply chain is really lacking at universities as noted in MIT’s CTL whitepaper that I cited earlier.


The APQC results indicate that candidates are best prepared for the more basic aspects of the supply chain discipline, such as procurement and inventory management.  They also highlight the gap in skills among potential employees, given that candidates are rated most prepared for tactical aspects of the supply chain field.  “In today’s complex, far-flung supply chains, most decisions have multiple consequences—many of them intended.” states Dr. Mahmoodi, Director of the Global Supply Chain Management program at Clarkson University.


Meanwhile, as research indicates, organizations are addressing the need to further develop their supply chain hires in a number of ways.  Some have adopted training programs to improve the skills of high-potential employees once they have been brought on board.  Such programs can include on-the-job training in the organizations’ logistics processes and/or rotation programs that give employees broad experience with different aspects of supply chain.


And corporate universities are already carving out new roles to address the talent shortage.  As a training center, the corporate supply chain university’s goal is to achieve logistics operational excellence and drive alignment around key logistics processes and standards.


Lastly, an aging workforce means waves of retirees will soon be leaving across the board. As a result, we risk losing critical “institutional knowledge” if we’re not prepared.  The Baby Boomers need to be able to tutor and coach your newly hiredmillennialsthrough a mentoring program.  As a Baby Boomer with 40 years of experience, I can personally attest that it is difficult to gain experience without also gaining knowledge.“Knowledge comes by taking things apart: analysis. But wisdom comes by putting things together.” believed John Morrison, former President of Anderson College. And it is this wisdom which Baby Boomers have already accumulated that is really lacking at colleges and universities.





About Thomas Tanel



Thomas Tanel


President and CEO of CATTAN Services Group Logistics


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Aman Sapra who discussed International Logistics and the Impact on the Overall Supply Chain.







It’s nice to speak with you, Aman. I’m looking forward to hearing your views today on the topic of international logistics and the impact on the overall supply chain. Before we start, can you provide a brief background of yourself?


Certainly, Dustin. It’s a pleasure to speak with you. I appreciate the blog series that you’re running; very insightful and a lot of information there. Thank you for doing that for the profession. A brief background of myself. My name is Aman Sapra; I work with St. Onge Company. I’m a senior project manager for inventory and supply chain strategy. I work a fair bit with international logistics and also work a fair amount with forecasting, inventory deployment, sales and operations planning kind of problems that folks would be working creatively to address. I also work a fair amount with understanding commodity flow analysis, regional trends in terms of date-intensive trade and commodity flow data and just general in terms of service strategies and network strategies. I’ve been with St. Onge Company for about ten years, and it’s been a great journey.


What is the impact of international logistics on the overall supply chain?


The impact certainly is profound, as most of us would agree. It doesn’t matter … there are times when we would source finished goods into a country that we would have to distribute in, so we are potentially importing finished goods. We are importing raw materials at times, if we are producing finished goods within a country, we could be importing services from other countries. You could be looking at various things as the world becomes flat, more and morephysical flow of the product has gone international and to make physical product flow from the origin point to the destination point is what logistics does and international logistics has essentially brought to the fore this very critical component of  ensuring that the product gets to the right place at the right time, in the right quantity, and at the right price. So international  logistics does have an overall impact on supply chain whether you look at sourcing strategies, fulfillment strategies, how do you deploy … your deployment strategies, your network strategies in terms of network solution centers, where they should be located, what size they should be, what mission they should have. All of those get impacted by a single component and that is international logistics. It does have a profound impact on the overall supply chain.


Where do the challenges lie?


The challenges typically come from, …well, that’s a multifaceted question because the challenges could lie with being  right at the very top, when the overall strategy has not been determined, or if it has been determined, it is somewhat dated. We could’ve made some sourcing changes or sourcing strategy decisions in the past couple of years, but the overarching strategy has not been changed in the past five years or has not been revisited in the past five years. That could have a fundamental impact or a fundamental disconnect between the strategic view and the tactical and operational uptake on the ground. You could also have challenges in just visibility to the supply chain, giventhat the supply chain is now longer. If I would source something in the country, I obviously do not have—I’ll take the example of sourcing something from China or from Korea or from Thailand and coming to the U.S. or to Europe. The length of the supply chain does grow by six weeks.


Now, what that also means is, you’ve got to now start forecasting six weeks in advance; you’ve got that much more forecast error that comes into play; you’ve got to figure out where you bring the product in; you’ve got to account for all kinds of risks in the supply chain. The challenges generally come from the lack of a strategy, as well as the visibility to the strategy and to the execution and also to the recording of various events within the supply chain.


The simplest one there, which I think everyone would agree with, is having visibility to exactly when a container leaves from the origin point or, even if you go back, when it left from the source location, when it got to the originating port, when it departed the originating port to somewhere, did it tranship through a location, when it got to the destination port, how many days it took to clear through customs and other formalities that come through. By the time you actually account for each of these elements, not only are you measuring whether your supply chain is actually working well, you are also auditing to make sure that you are recording each and every event.


It’s pretty much like the human body; you’ve got to take the pulse check and make sure that you are picking on every vital signal that the human body’s sending out. It’s the same thing with the supply chain. You’ve got to have every vital measurement being checked, and that might actually mean that you have to take just about each and every measurement before you can diagnose which one is vital and which is not, because the growth of a company and the maturity of a company will dictate what you want to measure, might vary by the phaseand the type of growth that the company’s going for.


Fundamentally, strategic alignment, visibility around supply chain, and recording of data down to the level where you track each and every instance of activity in supply chain essentially would be where the challenges come throughbecausein all the work we do, we find that to be a critical missing link a lot of times.


Just about every kind of project that we undertake, we would be spending somewhere about 40 to 50 percent of time in gathering and cleaning good data from which we can make inferences before we can determine the overarching strategy. Unfortunately, what should—or fortunately, whichever way you want to look at it—you want to have done that analysis prior to putting the strategy in place, which a lot of companies are fundamentally starting to do, but you see it the other way around, as well, where some strategies have been put into place, but there’s no data of that price strategy, and that is unfortunate, but at the same time, it’s reality.


Where have you seen some good results?


Good results have been with, essentially, I’ll echo the same thought. It’s been folks who actually are able torecord some of the very basic instances around transaction of data but also who are at the forefront of figuring out what their service strategies are and how the service strategy ties into the distribution strategy and how the distribution strategy then tie into the sourcing strategy. What you’re doing is starting with the voice of the customer and saying: “How do I need to service my customers? How do I need to segment my supply chain? How do I need to segment my SKU base? How do I reach out to the different channels within the supply chain? How are the different channels the stakeholders within the supply chain?”


And then build backward and ensure that all these strategy pieces—you know, to service, you need to distribute; to distribute, you need to deploy; to be able to deploy, you need to be able to position inventory; to be able to position inventory, you need to be able to source it properly.


To be able to do all that, you essentially are looking at a multifaceted approach, and most people who are successful are able to take a comprehensive outlook at the supply chain and essentially figure out where the issues are. As soon as you start looking at this entire chain, the entire value chain, it goes back to what’s initially being called the shiftingbottleneck problem.


There will always be a constraint in the value chain, and that constraint in the value chain is, by far, is the affecting bottleneck. The bad news there is that there is always a constraint in the value chain. The good part there is that you will always be able tocontrol of what you’re doing. The most important thing there is to fundamentally be able to understand what the pacemaker in the process is, what the pacemaker in the value chain is, what is the pacemaker that’s constraining the entire value chain.


Addressing that before moving on to other areas which might be addressed, but overall, holistically that might be a few projects that are being done individually under each and every cross-function of the supply chain but If you were to take the holistic view, where exactly is that problem, where is that issue? That is essentially becoming the pacemaker for the entire value chain.


Once you're able to get to that, once you’re able to start addressing that, once you’re able to get that approach into your supply chain, value proposition thinking, I think a lot of folks will start to gain benefit. I’ve been seeing that significantly with some folks who made a very conscious effort in ensuring that they, even with, a small portion of the supply chain being internationalthey put in a conscious effort in ensuring that they understand the impact of outsourcing, the impact of bringing in product from different countries, the impact of positioning product and deploying inventory and how new product should be introduced or regular SKUs should be introduced. All of that, when you start looking at all of those facets and you say, “Where exactly should I be concentrating?” that’s typically what has helped a lot of folks in ensuring that they know where to address their efforts in making the supply chains more efficient, more comfortable, easier to work with, and, in all essence, fun to work with for their own employees , as well as the other stakeholders.


Thanks, Aman, for sharing today your views on international logistics and the impact on the supply chain.


  Certainly, Dustin.My pleasure. Good talking to you.




About Aman Sapra



Aman Sapra


Sr. Project Manager, Inventory &

Supply Chain Strategy + Analytics


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Alok Ahuja who discussed Developing Capability-Based Frameworks in the Supply Chain and How that Relates to the Architecture and a Modern Supply Chain.

You cannot make an investment in isolation. Unfortunately in medium and large-sized enterprises you make investment decisions based on relative data or when a threat or calamity happens. This is a reactive approach. Alok discusses a more effective and proactive approach.




Can you start by providing a brief background of yourself?


Thank you, Dustin. It’s a pleasure to be here again. My background, Dustin, I work at Matters Consuling, primarily a consulting company working with companies like Microsoft, SAP, T-Mobile, Costco, helping them look through their business processes, business applications, and strategically think through to help enable long-term potential in their current investments they already have and then make them future-ready. Longshoring, looking from strategy to realization, to implementation of the system; essentially focus on supply chain management, essentially focus on ERP, and new age technology.


What do you mean when you talk about a capability-based framework?


Dustin, in a large enterprise. Let’s say Wal-Mart or Costco or Microsoft, their are a large number of diverse applications, a variety of business processes. Multiple projects which are supporting business IT management or other business offices with that application. If you ask anybody within an organization how this project is going to impact optimization as a whole, people can rank and tell the value proposition of a project in isolation, but the ramification of a project strikes because multiple parts of an organization, multiple processes, multiple interfaces, and to get that holistic 360 view of what processes, what applications, what projects are in need for a particular process or are needed for a particular capability is extremely hard. As I said, you can give a great value proposition of, “Here, here’s an RFID and it can enable your supply chain visibility great for the proposition.”


When I make an implementation decision, how is that going to impact different parts of the process? How is that going to impact? What functionality? When it’s divided, how is that going to impact what particular parts or processes, what organizations are going to be impacted by that process? What applications are going to be impacted by that new project you’re implementing? What am I going to retire? What am I going to add? What interfaces are going to be implemented?


It’s always a big challenge to understand and get a holistic view. We end up implementing projects which are isolated, we end up implementing projects in realizing there are other impacts as well and then spawn more projects out of it. There are a lot of initiatives that do not really get fulfilled.


What we do is we get a holistic view of what an enterprise wide business application looks like. It’s important to make your investments strategically. How it functions, how a business process enables those capabilities. How are current projects enabling those capabilities. What is going to happen when the processes are implemented. What’s going to happen to them? What capabilities do we need to invest in for optimization to be competitive?

If I am, let’s say Costco, I provide certain functions. If I need to add more, what am I doing? What projects do I have in place? What processes are we getting backed in by them? If I have capability that I’m supporting, how are the capabilities going to be affected? That’s where I find that the framing up of capabilities, the framework, to provide the holistic view is useful. Why are you needing this investment?


How can it be applied?


We ask ourselves what our current capabilities are. Establish our capability structure, then I can define how those capabilities are going to support it, find out what applications we have and how they are impacting the capabilities. How are we supporting either an application or optimization with those capabilities?


We also highlight the priority of those capabilities so we can reap the benefits and maintain the right to the projects to help you manage both of your projects effectively. Now that you’ve decided that there’s a project we can do and there’s a return on investment. When you look this project what will the impacts of this particular project be? 


One of the impacts of these projects might be on the systems and applications, one of the interfaces. It really needs a buildup of all the business processes and in relationships across both entities. So, how are projects impacting capabilities? How are capabilities impacting processes? What interfaces are being impacted? What is the stability of the whole equipment and storage, which a number of methodologies are being used that enable certain technology or enterprise frameworks. I’m using one of the tools provided. I do not want to name the tools, but there are a whole variety of tools, software vendors, etc. which can provide such kind of framework.


Why is this important?


It is extremely important. The large enterprise is extremely important. Without having a cohesive, comprehensive view of your enterprise, without having a comprehensive view of your capabilities, it’s impossible to say why they may, in my opinion, optimization, and what other optimization is possible of those decisions? 


Ultimately, if you do not have a tool, you do not have a framework established, it becomes a random investment. It becomes imperative that we invest in the capability-based framework. So we have a good visibility, it should be all tied to the goals and objectives. As an organization, what are your goals? What are your objectives? What are your strategies? How are those strategies linked to your capability? What are they missing in the project? How is it tied to your strategy? You could impact a good view of…say, what investments am I making in a particular capability? What investments am I making to achieve a particular goal, now that my goal is linked to the project and capabilities?


You cannot make an investment in isolation. Unfortunately in medium and large-sized enterprises you make investment decisions based on relative data or when a threat or calamity happens. This is a reactive approach.


A proactive approach strategic approach requires you establish a framework and you make sound, right, effective and lasting decisions where you actually get the value from the investments you are making. Without this framework most organizations are making sub-optimal decisions.




About Alok Ahuja


Alok Ahuja


Technology and Business Leader


LinkedIn Profile