Skip navigation

I interviewed Mark Schaffer who discussed oManual and oManual Standards.







It’s great to speak with you again, Mark. The next topic we wanted to discuss today is the topic called, it’s an issue with a term referred to as oManual and oManual standards. I’m curious to learn more of what that’s about. Can you first provide a brief background of yourself?


Absolutely. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today, Dustin. I appreciate it. I’m Mark Schaffer. I am an environmental consultant in the electronics industry. I’ve been doing so for the past seven years, located in Austin, Texas. Prior to that I worked for a number of environmental companies, electronic companies in their environmental department, and have been engaged in improving electronics in the environment for probably 15 years.


Can you start by talking a little bit about what this is about?


This is a standard. We call it the oManual standard; it stands for the open-manual format. It actually is an IEEE standard; IEEE 1874-2013 is its more formal name and actually has a few more words on that. For folks who are interested in the full name of the standard, it’s the IEEE 1874 Standard for Documentation Schema for Repair and Assembly of Electronic Devices.


You get it from IEEE; there also is a Web site called, where you can get a lot of information about the standard and sort of how it’s structured, but you wouldn’t actually get a copy of the standard itself. In full disclosure, I was one of the folks who helped pull the standard together, and I am the vice chair of the group in IEEE who is maintaining the standard, and hopefully we’ll continue to update the standard over time.


That’s sort of a little bit of background of what it is and what the group is about. The standard itself is a schema documentation, so it’s intended to be a documentation that primarily companies would use when they’re trying to develop manuals that they’re going to put out, either for assembly of products, repair of products, two of the biggest things; you also have disassembly products for a recycler who needs to know how to take them apart.


This oManual standard basically provides the schema or basically the table of contents that a software developer would need to go through and say these are the various aspects in your document such that I can not only look at the documents and create these manuals online, say as a PDF, but I also will be able to then have it so I can put it on my mobile; I can put it on my phone or my tablet.


What we’re finding in most of the organizations we work with, they’re taking their manuals and they’re putting it on to tablets and phones so their workers can use that when they’re assembling a product or they’re preparing a product or when they end up taking a product apart for an end-of-life activity. What the oManual does is basically provide this structure so I can basically move from one device to another without losing any of the data and I can also do real-time updates from a server, into the server where I change something and say, “Hey, we have a new procedure,” and then would go into that and then would populate back out to all of these other devices that are looking at that standard.


Is there anything more you could say about why it’s important?


What it does is, we’re finding right now that a lot of folks, when they’re making their manuals, it never gets updated or it gets updated once a year or something like that. It also isn’t very portable; either I’m going to print out the PDF maybe, or if I’m good I may download it on my tablet and carry it around as a PDF, but I lose that real-time connection.


What we’ve found is that the more centralized the data can be made and the more real-time connection you can have, the more useful that is to folks. This gives that structure that’s necessary to basically make that such that if one manufacturer makes it and follows this and another manufacturer makes a manual and follows this structure and another manufacturer makes it and follows this structure, anybody can then go and it is a level playing field that everybody can look at. Not quite analogous but pretty close to this was the development of the PDF file format that Adobe did a number of years ago; they put together a structure such that if you put your document, you use this software to turn it into a PDF, then you can have another software that can read it, and then anybody can do it on any platform.


This is essentially that same kind of operation, except it provides it in a life format. It’s based a lot of XML or Jason are sort of the two basic software structures that are typically used as implementation. We’ve found it very useful for a lot of companies that are using it now on the assembly side and on the disassembly side. It’s really helped streamline their process.


Do you have any recommendations for companies that are interested?


Absolutely. What we’re finding, because it is software-based, obviously company * (6:32—unclear). What we’re encouraging is more software companies to come take a look at what oManual is and come talk to me or some of the other folks who helped build this standard on how they can adopt the oManual standard and actually offer this as something they’re able to produce manuals in this format today. One of the companies we work with right now is a company called Dozuki, and they produce online manuals and have for a couple of years.


They’re using this to produce all of their online manuals. What we really would like is more companies that are interested in the online manuals and the ability to produce and talk to us and start using this as a format for that. The more they use it, then it’ll create a large population of these so that more and more people are able to access these manuals to be able to do assembly, repair, and disassembly.




oManual website:

IEEE 1874 standard:

Dozuki website:



DRTR website:



About Mark Schaffer



Mark Schaffer


Sustainability Executive and Independent Consultant


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Stuart Emmett who discussed The Eight Supply Chain Rules.







It’s nice to speak with you again, Stuart. Today I’m looking forward to hearing your views on the topic of the eight supply chain rules. Before we start, can you provide a brief background of yourself?


Yeah, sure, Dustin, thank you. I worked in supply chain really for many, many years now. I used to work in logistics—my background’s in logistics—and I did that based in the U.K. but also down in West Africa. And then in 1990, quite some years ago, I moved into the training-education side of things with an institute here in the U.K., the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, which, of course an institute very similar to people like Apex and ISM, et cetera, that you have in the U.S. That got me into the education side of things and subsequent to studying out in 1990, I’ve been fortunate enough to go to many different countries, working—I think it was about 35 the last time we did a count upon it—delivering training programs all along the supply chain emphasis, although we go into some detail on separate topics like procurement, like warehousing, like inventory besides just the overview of supply chain. That’s where I come from, Dustin. If you’d like, I’ll just carry on. Should I on how I came to come up with the supply chain rules and what the importance is?


Please continue.


What happened in a lot of the travels I was doing in working, people were starting to ask me just what the supply chain was about. I thought there’s an opportunity here to just sit back and think about what the merger of supply chain, so that forced me, really, into looking into it and coming up with eight rules. I’m going to just go through those very quickly. They don’t specifically need to be in the importance I’m going to give them, although for reasons that’ll become clear, the first two or three probably are in importance. These are aspects that we must get right. And probably there are some obvious ones that people recognize and also perhaps not so obvious ones. Perhaps it’s useful if I just start off with my definition—and others’ definition, really—of supply chain. Supply chain is, of course, a process and what it’s about trying to do is to integrate and coordinate and control this whole movement of materials, goods, and information, which is starting off simply from a supply—we’ll come back to that—through a series of customers until it reaches the final consumer.


You and I are always at the end of a supply chain as consumers. I think the main thing about the definition is that it’s a linking process. It’s linking all the activities that go on between supplies and customers to the consumer and doing that in a timely manner. Supply chain involving the management of activities like buying and sourcing, manufacturing, making of product, the moving, logistics side, and also the selling the side. There we go. The important bit, really—and I think most people know this—is in the chain name that all these activities are connected.


Out of that, you can get the words coming out, but, really, the whole thing is very dependent on each other, isn’t it? What we really need to do is really recognize that, and I’ll be coming on to that one again a bit shortly. What we find is that a lot of dependent process, people manage it independently. They’re just not joined up, and because they’re not joined up, you cannot view them like this, an aspect where people can maybe be managing the supply chain. That’s the background on supply chain. Let me just go into it now and just run through the rules if I could.


1. The first supply chain rule for me is what I call win the home games first.


That’s really taken from a sports-team analogy, where if you want to be top of the division, top of the league, whatever it is, the priority’s got to be, you’ve got to start to win the home games, you’ve got get your internal organization working well. All internal operations and activities really need to be integrated, coordinated, and controlled. This is often where supply chains fail before they’ve even started, because that just doesn’t go on. You start to find that one function has maybe got a role over others; they don’t work well together; internal customers sometimes become internal enemies; we just don’t find that the internal operations are working very, very well.


It’s been nicely also but across by one of our profs here in the U.K. who said what we need is T-shaped people, the T being having people who’ve got debt in a function, but also that’s on the vertical side, and then the T on the horizontal is that they need to join up with the left and the right side of them. That’s a nice side of putting it, really; we just need to get this internal collaboration working well or, rule number one: win the home games first.


It’s a very big start for organizations because getting into culture is getting into changing the way we’ve done things around here, which is often not very easy. There’s rule number one and I would say definitely the number one rule in supply chain.


2. Number two really goes through into looking at inventory. Rule number two for me is that the format of inventory and where it’s held in the supply chain has got to be of interest to all supply chain players; therefore, it must be something that’s jointly examined and investigated.


Now, this is done often, of course, with people who are doing processes like CPFR collaborative planning for customer requirement; sales and operation planning, by definition, looking at stock levels we’re holding; and also things that are collaborative and incorporating rule number one. We can see the real evidence for actually doing this.


This whole bag of worms, of course, once you get into the inventory side. The net result generally is often if it’s not being managed properly that throughout the supply chain, more inventory is being held than is actually needed, so too much inventories being held. I’m thinking of things like the forest for the trees that come into it and illustrate those aspects. This is something we need to be looking at very, very closely. That’s number two.


3. Number three, obviously, what we’re about is trying to get the right kind, the optimum, if you like, custom-service balance.The rule: The optimal ideal custom-service balance will only ever be found by working and collaborating with all the players in the supply chain.


The other key is taking, if you like, win the home games first collaboration out into the supply chain and looking at ways of working with people and trying to tap into all the different kind of aspects that come through there. One that’s going to come out from that, that is rule eight, around reducing lead times and starting to look at that. To do this, we need to go beyond the actual first tiers and start to look into the network, the supply chain, rather than just looking at, say, the first level of supply end. This is a big area still for a lot of people going into suppliers and starting to look at it that way.


There are some sub stories, really, where that focus is often brought home where something goes wrong in supply chain that’s perhaps far removed in thinking about things that have gone on if you like supply chain risk area, I guess, where there’ve been problems in factories in third-world countries that have been publicized very, very well and then backed down and reach our companies there. It’s more than just looking at the interim processes here; it’s looking at mutual interest and trying to get open relationships. Again, that’s quite a big one there.



4. Number four is coming through to the time element. Obviously, all activities taking place in time, so the actual flows, but also the cash flows and the information flows are important. The big thing on the lead time for us, people often, I find, get this wrong. It’s very, very nice if we could get short lead times.


Obviously, if we’re able to do that, it’s going to reduce on the inventory side, but the major aspect is to actually have reliable lead times. If lead times are reliable, then we know that something is going to happen within that lead time; then we can plan that it. As is often said on inventory, it’s actually uncertainty that’s the mother of inventory. Uncertainty is the mother of inventory.


The length of the lead time is importance to the variability and uncertain-ness in lead times. Knowing what the lead times are and spending time working on trying to find a reliable way of maintaining those lead times so we’ve got certainty coming through is critically needed, but it’s all too rarely done, actually. Most discussions you see on lead times understandably are talking about short lead times, but if we’re buying something from the other side of the world, we’re not going to get a short lead time, are we? But if we have it reliable and we can plan for it, that’s the important aspect that kicks in.


Okay, those are the four, and I would say definitely the top four. The next ones go into things like, which I’ll go through. Obviously, we’re looking at the customer side of things, looking at flow and movement, concept of tradeoff, and looking at the information flows. Those are where we’re headed for. The first four that I’ve gone through I would say are probably prioritized as being prime ones to actually look at. Okay, just get through the balance four ones a bit quickly, Dustin.



5. Number five, I call it the customer is the business, isn’t it? It’s the demand from the customer that’s driving the whole supply chain so that finding out what it is the customers value and trying to deliver that is what’s critical. It may be low-cost, it may be more reliability, it may be both things together. It’s a different balance to be found, isn’t it, with customers.


The big thing on this one, of course, is as well just to reach the customer, and within that as well, I just want to drop in that there are things called internal customers, and that’s taking me back into the win the home games first and go there as well. There we go. Simply, if everybody looked at the next person they pass something on to as being the customer and thought about them as that way, then things are going to change in the way things are going to get done. That’s a straightforward one perhaps on customer.



6. Number six: It’s all about movement and trying to maintain flows. If you stop the flow of goods and materials generally, you are not only increasing time, but, of course, we’re adding cost to it. It’s all about getting the movement and keeping the movement going. Agility, those kinds of words spring into mind when we talk about that one.



7. Rule number seven, this nice idea; trade-off, looking holistically at a supply chain and deciding overall how we can get the best, which may mean paying off a transport because that reduces inventory holding, just a very, very simple one there. I remember coming in the early ’90s actually, when we had a large manufacturer of confectionary products here in the U.K. set up a supply chain department inside the business to coordinate things.


They became—it was a good title, actually—they became known not as supply chain, but they became known as the department of tradeoffs because that’s what they were doing. They were trying to look at the overall and manage that so that it broke down some of the internal style and management aspects again. And then the last one not mentioned, really, in detail but it is very important.



8. Supply chain rule number eight: it’s information flows that actually lubricate the supply chain, isn’t it? The big development in supply chain in the past 20, 25 years has been the growth and information and communication technology.


All trade and activity that we know of supply chain has been done for many, many centuries now, certainly in the West, is pretty well-known, but it’s the ITC side that’s enabled us to have visibility, enabled this connect, et cetera, et cetera. And, of course, development is still going on there. We need to have, I’ve just copped out by saying “the appropriate” ICT, isn’t it? It needs to be something that is looked at. And I also purposely don’t mind having that as last because I think we’ve got to, or we’ve gone against the fact, I do come across it a lot in certain areas of the world, where people are looking to solve problems by buying some software and, of course, they’ll always find someone who’s willing to sell the software.


The danger is, it may not be right for them, they don’t understand the basic processes in buying something that’s being programmed for them, but in one or two years’ time, when things change, there are some dangers within that scenario. We really need people to understand and have some knowledge about what goes on behind the screen. Please, please, please, let’s use appropriate systems, then, to take away all the number crunching, take care of some of the simple decisions and flag things for people to come, people’s knowledge to actually use and take the right decisions. Okay? There we go, sir. That’s a very, very quick summary of my eight supply chain rules. Over to you.


Thank you, Stuart, for sharing today. Do you have any final recommendations?


Yeah, just do them. They’re very simple to state. I do accent the devil’s in the detail when you apply them in particular situations, but adding a clear focus on just what it is we need to be looking for I think sometimes helps in so doing, which is why I put the rules together in the first place; it gives you some kind of structure to start to have a look at how we can make improvements. That’s it, really.


Thanks for sharing today.


You’re welcome.




About Stuart Emmett



Stuart Emmett


International Master Trainer and Award Winning

Author covering all Supply Chain topics


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Martin Keyser who discussed Constant Improvement.







It’s great to speak with you again, Marty. We’ve done an interview the past, and I’m happy to speak with you again today about the topic of constant improvement. Can you start by providing a brief background of yourself?


I’ve been a purchasing agent for a good amount of years. I was probably one of the first group of people to get a CPM way back in the ’70s, which stands for certified purchasing manager, for those people who don’t know. I have worked not only in purchasing, but also in sale, so I have been on both sides of the desk, if you will. I’ve worked in manufacturing companies, and that’s where I was introduced to lean management, which includes constant improvement, and I’m a big fan of constant improvement.


And can you start by providing a definition of what constant improvement is?


My definition is making a product or procedure better, cheaper, faster, or easier.


Great, that’s a good definition. Do you have any examples?


Yes, I do. I have an example of, say, making a procedure easier. When I was at one company that imported all of their products from China, we would receive invoices from the freight forwarder that would not only include the cost of the merchandise, but also the cost of everything it took to bring it in to America, such as duties and fees. What the accounting department would do was sort all these costs into three categories, and then break it down to the cost in each one of these categories per case. The person who was doing this had done it for years manually, using a calculator. What I felt was ridiculous about it was because the calculator would take something out to 12 decimal points; so would she. What I did when she asked me to do this for her was, inside of five minutes, I created an Excel spreadsheet and, using some formulas, pretty much had the spreadsheet do all the work for me. By just plugging in total cost and also the total amount of cases, the computer did all the work, and the job was done almost before it started.


Another example was, I worked at a company that had location codes in the computer of all the merchandise in bins on shelves. The problem was that every time they did inventory, if any one of those bins moved on the shelf either because of eliminating a bin or adding a bin to the shelf, it changed all the location codes of anything that got moved on the shelf. That necessitated changing all the location codes in the computer. Well, I suspected that was way too much information that was needed for the fellow who was pulling the parts to know where the part was. It just simply wasn’t necessary to have all that information. After testing out my theory by having him pull parts with the complete code and pull parts without the bin part of the code, we found that it took no longer to do it the one way than the other way. What that allowed us to do was eliminate where the bin was on the shelf, which also eliminated the need to change that location in the computer, which saved about 160 man hours a year.


An example of a product constant-improved—what I defined as product is either an individual part or a sub-assembly or an assembly, which is to say two parts being put together makes it a subassembly, and when you make it even bigger, it becomes an assembly. I’m just going over this so everybody knows what I’m talking about. In the case of a part, the best example I can give you is a particular fastener, a particular screw had two drives on it, which is to say how you screw it on to the part.


Either one of those two drives made the screw a standard, but when you put both of those drives together on the screw, it made it a special. In looking into this, I found that either way, the standard screw would be 2 cents each, whereas the special screw was 22 cents each, so that was a big difference, especially since we’re putting something like 30 screws into each product. What I did was went to engineering and asked their permission if we could eliminate one of the drives, which they okayed. That’s an important thing, by the way. When you do not have the authority to change something, you need to know that and get permission from the person who does have the authority, I was allowed to do that, to change the part and order the standards instead of the special, and we save about $25 thousand a year.


One other thing I want to mention is that when you do something like that, call the supplier and find out if he has any of these things on the shelf. If he does, you owe it to him to take those parts off the shelf before you start changing; it’s just an ethical thing to do. Now, in the case of the subassembly or assembly, an example I have of this, and I’ll try and make this as clear as I can, there was a round, metal shaft that went into a metal box. T


he shaft was knurled and, generally—what knurling is is like lines or a diamond shape on the product, much like you would see on the edges of a dime, and it just makes it easier for a person to hold on it. When I first saw that, I couldn’t help wondering why you would need to knurl a product that went inside a sealed box. As it turned out, the people who were assembling this needed to have the rod knurled in order to be able to hold on to it while they were fastening it into the box. This was a very time-consuming, labor-intensive procedure. The box was really small, and it was just difficult for them to do it.


They didn’t complain; they just did their job. What I did, though, suspecting that this could be made faster, cheaper, easier, better, I asked the manufacturer if, instead of knurling it, could he put two flaps on each side of the rod, which made it look more like a screwdriver tip, if you could imagine that. Then what they also did for me was slotted the inside of the box, and the screwdriver tip would fit into the box, making the rod impossible to turn. It just eliminated the need for the girls who were assembling this to hold on to it and not only made it easier for them to do their job, which sped up their productivity, but we also saved money because putting a slot on this rod was cheaper than putting knurls on it. Those are my examples.


Are there any downsides to constant improvement?


I’m glad you mentioned that. There are. The first thing you have to do is leave your ego at the door. When you are working on a product, trying to make it better, and you present this to the powers that be and then somebody else thinks of an even better way of making this product, taking your idea and taking it one step ahead, you have to have enough self-control to keep your mouth shut and let your wonderful idea be improved even further by somebody else. Also, you have to have the honesty to admit that this new version, this new idea actually was even better than your idea was.


Another downside is that you have to be very, very careful that you don’t step on people’s toes while you are putting forth your ideas or even putting your ideas into effect. What I did was embarrass my boss at a company. When he was away I was in a production meeting, and I noticed that the first two weeks of the month, we had produced $500,000 worth of merchandise. Up to that point in time, everybody thought it was not possible to do any better than a $700,000 month.


When I pointed out to the people in my production group that all we needed to do was double the first two weeks of production, to do it again and we would have a $1 million month, they were kind of amazed at that. Just for fun, I challenged the lady who was supervisor of the production department, and I told her that if her people met that goal, I would buy everybody lunch. Well, here I was, acting like the boss and I shouldn’t have.That was number one.

Number two: Here we are producing a $1 million month when the boss was away, so what does that make the boss look like? I think what I did was, I embarrassed him because here he was at a corporate meeting, and it must have raised some eyebrows when we did a $1 million month. And then by meeting the goal and then challenging us to increase the goal, soon a $2 million month was average, whereas before everybody thought a $700,000 month was good.


This all happened when the boss was away, so this must’ve been an embarrassment for the boss. I should have done it with the boss’s permission, but I got ahead of myself.


The third thing I would say is: Know what corporate culture you’re in. If you’re in a corporate culture where I would call a military-type culture where the orders only come from the top, if you’re toward the bottom or even the middle of the organization and you start making suggestions, if the boss is threatened by you, soon you’re not going to be there anymore. For example, in a military environment, when the general says “Charge,” he expects everybody to charge. He isn’t interested in meetings or alternatives or better ideas; you just have to do what you’re told. Know whether or not the company really does accept ideas from the bottom and if not, just lip service before you start doing it, or you may find yourself out of a job.


Thanks, Marty, for sharing today on this topic.


Thank you very much for inviting me.




About Martin Keyser



Martin Keyser


Sr. Buyer

Practicing Constant Improvement Constantly


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Tim Donovan who discussed Lack of Leadership and How Good Leadership Leads to Success.







It’s great to speak with you today, Tim. I’m looking forward to hearing your views today on the topic of lack of leadership and how good leadership leads to success. Before we start, can you provide a brief background of yourself?


Sure. My name’s Tim Donovan, I’m the founder of Advanced Innovation Managers, and I’ve recently got into doing leadership training. That’s one of the things I feel, there’s a shortage of leaders. My background is, I graduated from * (2:42—unclear) Academy back in ’75. I’ve had many different troops under my command during the time I was in the Army for 11 years. I’ve also been a leader at AT&T and Hewlett-Packard in some of the consulting work I did for them. That’s primarily my background.


Great. My first question is: Where are the leaders?


It’s a good question, Dustin, and one of the problems is that a lot of the people don’t get the opportunity to learn to be a leader. When you take a look at the world in general nowadays, it’s not cool to be a Boy Scout because the news is full of those now with the sex criminals and things like that, which is some of them but nobody joins it. Many sports teams, especially in the younger ages, nobody wins, so it’s pretty hard to be a leader when there are no winners. A lot of the Boys Clubs and stuff are not run by leaders. The reason I talk about that is when I was 12 years old, I made my Eagle Scout, which less than 2 percent of the boys made, and I had to make decisions for a 55-person troop, like where you camp, what exercise you’re going to do. You start young and, therefore, you learn a lot about leadership at that point.


Well, why do we have a shortage of leaders?


Because people aren’t joining those programs. People are going to a lot of the sports or the clubs when they don’t have to be leaders. You don’t have that finite training, nor do you get the chance to have an example of what it means to be a true leader. That’s the main reason we have shortages, I feel. You don’t have the different clubs that many youth were part of in the ’60s, nor do you have the number of people coming out of the military that you had back in the ’60s and ’70s.


Do you have some main ideas or the most important principles of leadership?


When you look at the principles of leadership—and this is what I’ve noticed in corporate America—the first one is: be technically and tactically proficient. Many times, if you talk to some of the management, they believe just by being put in a position of leadership, you automatically become a leader, but the person has no idea what they’re leading. That’s not uncommon when you hire from the outside to get that. The other side of it is know yourself and seek self-improvement. That’s the second one I want to talk about, which is you really have to be honest with yourself and say, “Where am I weak? Where do I need to be to have people who can help me or that I can go study and become better at?”


The other one—there are a lot of them; there are nine—is: you need to set the example. When you look in corporate America today, you don’t see very many of them setting the example because a lot of the people in corporate America are looking to make their position known and then move on. They really don’t set an example of what needs to happen. What they do is come in to an organization, they grab what they can, get known for being good enough, and before a project ever fails, they’re gone, so they’re really not setting very good examples. The other thing is: ensure that the task is understood, supervised, and accomplished. Too many people feel that just by telling somebody to do something, it’s going to get done the way they want it. Again, to be a good leader, you need to be able to do that. Another one I’ve seen drop in recent years is training your people as a team.


When I originally joined corporate America, I joined AT&T. We were required to get 40 to 80 hours a year of training. It could be technical training or leadership training depending on what your position was. I don’t see that happening anymore because companies are cutting those budgets because of profits. The other thing I’ve seen in corporate America, and this one really, I guess, makes me mad, is: make sound and timely decisions. Many people just let things go until they become a crisis. They don’t want people to understand what’s actually going on. The other thing is, a lot of people tend to not develop a sense of responsibility in their subordinates. People don’t know what to do if not.


There are a lot of differences between the military and the business world, but if you look at Colin Powell, he took military leadership to the nth degree and wrote a book to make it fit into the civilian side of the world. That’s another thing that happened in the Army; you’re taught to lead and you lead by example. The other thing would be that in the military—and a lot of people will say military leadership is very easy because they have to do it or go to jail. Well, that’s a true situation, but the difference is, when I leave a group in a combat, every one of them is a trained killer; everyone has a weapon and either I’m looking out for their best interest, or if I’m not, they’re going to get rid of you first. That was called friendly fire if you go back to the Vietnam days and what’s going on overseas.


Again, being a military leader is probably a little bit harder than being a civilian leader, and I hear a lot of times that it’s the opposite effect. The other thing is just knowing your people, and that’s a big thing. I don’t feel in corporate America, we really know our teams. You don’t know how to * (9:05—unclear) with people so that they can use their strengths and train their weaknesses. That’s kind of a summation of some of the principles of being a leader.


Do you have any final recommendations?


Sure. A couple of the biggest things I’ve found is, number one: you’ve got to train your people. Too many people in corporate America feel that if they train their people, they’re going to take their place. You need to give them an environment in which to grow because a leader isn’t born. I know there have been a lot of books where some people will say a leader is born but they’re not really; they’re trained. They have to have that environment in corporate America; you’ve got to allow people to be wrong. But when we talk about people being wrong in corporate America, we want to make sure that they have a sound decision or the reason they did what they did.


Maybe it didn’t turn out and that happens. If you look at different companies like 3M, Apple, a lot of them had a lot of failures, even Microsoft, before they came out with product that stuck. You have to have that. One of the things that I love, I found a quote from Tom Peters, who wrote couple of the leadership books. He said, “Our job is not to create followers but to develop leaders,” and that’s what people forget. Too often, people come in to corporate America, climb the ladder, and, like I said, I look around and they’re gone before the project ever becomes due or the project’s ever done on paper; it’s basically finished. That’s, I think, the big things we need to do in corporate America: provide that environment, as well as follow some of these principles and there are also some traits. It just would take too long to go through them.


Thank you, Tim, for sharing your views on the topic of leadership. Did we cover everything you wanted to discuss?


At this point. There’s a lot more to it, so keep in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Being a leader means a lot of extra work, but the bottom line is, if you don’t create your future leaders, that’s when companies will peak and then they all of a sudden will crash when some of the leaders leave.


And thanks again for sharing.


Thank you.




About Tim Donovan



Tim Donovan


Competitive Advantage Architect (tm)


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Sean Penrith who discussed EPA’s 111 (d) Rule.







It’s great to speak with you again, Sean. It’s been a while since we’ve talked. I’m looking forward to hearing your views today on a new topic. Before we start, can you provide a brief background of yourself?


Sure, I’m happy to. Nice to connect once again. I joined the Climate Trust as the executive director one year ago literally to the day. Before that I actually served on the board as vice chair to the Climate Trust for several years while I was running another energy and sustainably organization here in Portland for seven years. My background is really from the for-profit sector, although I’ve spent some time in the nonprofit center, with a primary focus on sustainability, energy efficiency, and climate change.


Thanks. My first question is: What is the EPA 111 (d) rule?


It’s essentially, at the current stage, it’s a set of guidelines that the EPA released under the Clean Air Act. It essentially regulates, its intent will be to regulate the emissions from electricity-generating units, or EGUs, as they are known. The design of the plan is fairly interesting because it essentially gives a huge amount of flexibility under the Clean Air Act section 111 (d) to the implementing state. Each state is essentially tasked with a rate-reduction goal. In Oregon, for example, our goal is 372 pounds per megawatt hour of energy generated. The state is free to design the approach to meet the goal.


There’s a lot of flexibility in the guidelines. Remember, it’s just a set of guidelines the EPA’s going to formalize by June next year, and the following year the states have to submit the state plan, which would indicate how they’re going to reach the goal that’s been set for their respective state. The guidelines allow various mechanisms to achieve the goal. What they don’t do is allow any type of offset activity, and that’s specifically because it regulates the electric-generating sector, so any type of carbon offsetting is not allowed because it’s not connected to the grid, if you will. But it does allow for reusable energy credits and energy-efficiency credits to come in to play as part of enabling states to reach their goals. I’ll stop there in case you have a question.


How does this rule impact state plans for moving to some type of carbon mechanism?


That’s a really good question. In 111 (d) a state can opt to—there are a couple of options they have. They can go to loan and design their own state plan to meet the target, or they can look at a multistate plan so they can link up with other states and essentially create a trading system for reusable energy and energy-efficiency credit. In that scenario the amalgamation of the states is considered as one entire target instead of the individual state. The states also have the ability to choose, they can stick with the rate-based emission target that the EPA has given them, or they can choose to convert the rate-based approached to what’s known as a mass-based approach. What that essentially means is that the state of Oregon, for example, could decide that they’re going to convert to the mass-based approach under which the entire state is essentially kept under an emissions umbrella, if you will.


Instead of accounting for the emissions under each electric-generating unit within the territory or the state, the state then considers the overall net of emissions underneath this mass-based approach. Because of that, a lot of people have argued that EPA is paving the way to some sort of capped and trade mechanism because the mass-based approach essentially does cap the emissions within a state. It’s kind of interesting because it definitely does pave the way because states are offered a mass-based approach, who then also go for a multistate avenue to reach compliance and to link up with other states to essentially design a caps and trade multistate trading system to meet compliance under 111 (d).


This is, of course, important because California, which has a cap and trade, and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which is the nine most eastern states, all have a trading block amongst those nine states. California and RGGI wanted to make sure that they were in compliance of 111 (d), given the design of their own emission-reduction schemes that they have in place. Long story short, if a state were to go for a max-based approach for the multistate linkage, they could opt to join California as a root to compliance, or they could emulate RGGI or join RGGI. This is interesting because the state is considering a carbon tax, for example, and not a cap and trade system, then opting for a mass-based linked state approach might be a carbon tax.


It really starts begging the question: What does the state do in terms of a carbon mechanism that dovetails with a 111 (d) compliant scenario. I’ll stop there because I’ve said a few things that were out of context.


What are your recommendations or are there any implications for business executives?


I think the implications for business executives fall a little further afield and down the line from 111 (d). If EPA’s successful with releasing this rule next year without further challenges and electric-generating units, the electricity center is essentially regulated under 111 (d), what’s going to happen is other sectors are ultimately going to follow suit.


We’re going to start regulating just like they do in California; industrial sources, transportation’s going to come online in 2015. Executives running multinational corporations had best be advised and keep a watchful eye on what sectors are going to be capped, that are going to pursue the 111 (d) effort. Expand into the sectors for the states or regions are designed for reaching carbon-reduction goals is going to have to consider how to account for other sectors beyond the electricity sector. I think this is what some people in the country are concerned about, is that 111 (d) creates a glide path, if you will, to managing carbon emissions across multiple sectors. In the carbon world, with Climate Trust, we think that’s essential if we’re going to be serious about managing the carbon impacts. We think it’s a welcome development. Executives in sectors need to watch what’s going to happen in regulation, especially if states start to follow the path of California or RGGI.


It could create a domino effect where states realize that joining these other systems is a lot easier than designing their own, is an economy of scale that’s built in efficiencies because California and RGGI have gone down the hard part of designing these systems, and if those systems comply with 111 (d), you can see why states would opt for joining them. And then that impacts Washington state and north while it’s considering both carbon tax and caps and trade, it does have a taskforce in place for specifically looking at caps and trade and how a linkage to California might make sense to that state. You see it already in these early days of 111 (d).


Thanks, Sean, for sharing your views today on the EPA’s 111 (d) rule.


My pleasure. Thanks, Dustin.




About Sean Penrith



Sean Penrith


Executive Director at The Climate Trust


LinkedIn Profile


I interviewed Thomas Tanel who discussed Logistics/Supply Chain Talent Challenge: Seize the Opportunity to Replenish the Logistics and Supply Chain Work Force with Military Veterans.







Hi I’m Tom Tanel, President and CEO of CATTAN Services Group, with more than 40 years of seasoned and practical supply chain experience, I am offering a perspective based on being a Vet. I am a Service Disabled Veteran with 11 years of active duty during the Vietnam and the Cold War eras, I served in infantry, transportation, and logistics US Army officer slots at various posts to include Fort Benning, Fort Campbell, and Fort Eustis, as well as overseas in the Republic of Korea and the Federal Republic of Germany.


Dustin, once again thanks for having me back to discuss Part III, the final part of our series on the Logistics/Supply Chain Talent Challenge. Today, I would like to talk about the opportunity to replenish the logistics and supply chain workforce with military veterans.


Why are companies proactively seeking to hire veterans?


One of the numerous challenges faced by companies today is finding and keeping skilled labor as well as finding quality people. At a time of relatively high unemployment, why are companies facing a dwindling talent pool? One reason is a negative and/or lack of perception about logistics and supply chain careers among students, parents and even high school guidance counselors. There is also a rising sentiment that jobs involving roll-up-the sleeves physical work or shirt sleeve supervision are somehow inferior—which isn’t helping.


Many companies in the transportation and logistics field are looking to recruit veterans as traditional labor pools produce fewer job candidates. Three transportation companies—BNSF Railway, CSX Transportation and Schneider National—made the list of the top 35 veteran employers. On its Web site, BNSF says it has hired more than 6,000 veterans since 2005.


Trucking companies most often look to the U.S. military for experienced truck drivers and mechanics. But motor carriers, railroads and third-party logistics companies also may benefit from veterans’ military logistics experience to fill operations, supervision, and management roles. Ironically, “Logistician” ranks sixth on the G.I. Jobs list of top 20 “hot jobs” for veterans.


So why are companies proactively seeking to hire veterans? Because returning service members bring unique skills and experience to the civilian workforce. Because of their training and their work ethic, many companies report that veterans make excellent employees, with a higher rate of retention.


Veterans have the proven ability to learn new skills and concepts. In addition, they can enter your workforce with identifiable and transferable skills proven in real-world situations.

If you are looking to hire a veteran, more than 2800 One-Stop Career Centers nationally offer employers assistance connecting with and recruiting veterans. These resources include specialized local Veterans' Employment Representatives (LVERs) and Disabled Veterans' Outreach Program (DVOP) staff who work solely with veteran populations and can provide relevant veteran applicant referrals.


What are some of the reasons behind their decision to hire veterans?


Trained to perform under stress in resource scarce environments, veterans make solid leaders who handle accountability well.  Without consciously targeting them, Amazon found in its early days in the mid- to late 1990s that it had hired multiple former officers to run its warehouses, where logistics skills readily translated. The distribution organization became a magnet for vets.

At Amazon, according to Phil Dana, a former Navy warfare surface officer, who now serves as Human Resources manager of military recruiting for North America Operations, the position of Area Manager is an ideal fit for veterans because its “rubber meets the road, roll up your sleeves, and jump into the fire” type of leadership role – the kind of role that resonates with military veterans. It poses dynamic challenges, where no day is the same. It’s demanding and rewarding. In this role according to Dana, you have a big goal, with little guidance, so it requires the ability to be nimble and make analytic decisions based on what you see at that specific moment.


Hiring military veterans is good for business, according to a new study conducted by the Washington think tank Center for a New American Security, that uncovered why companies hire veterans and the challenges they face in doing so.


The 69 businesses examined, including AT&T, Bank of America, the Boeing Co., Kraft Foods and PepsiCo, provided a number of reasons behind their decision to hire veterans, including:

  • Leadership and teamwork skills: Veterans typically have led colleagues, accepted direction from others and operated as part of a small team.
  • Character: Veterans are perceived as being trustworthy, dependable, and drug-free having a strong work ethic.
  • Structure and discipline: Companies appreciate veterans' experience in following established procedures.
  • Expertise: Companies value veterans' occupational skills, job-specific experiences and understanding of the military community.
  • Dynamic environment: Veterans are accustomed to performing and making decisions in dynamic, rapidly changing circumstances.
  • Effectiveness: Company representatives report that veterans "get it done."
  • Proven success: Some organizations hire veterans largely because other vets already in their organization have been successful.
  • Resiliency: Veterans are accustomed to working in difficult environments, traveling and relocating.
  • Loyalty. Veterans are committed to the organizations they work for, which can translate into longer tenure.

For example, General Electric a long time military recruiter states, “Your service made you a leader and a disciplined, strategic thinker with a level of loyalty that is unmatched. At GE, we recognize and value your strengths, which makes us a great choice for your civilian career.”


The Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies for over 50 years has helped US veterans and on their website says: “Veterans and reservists who work within our companies have a chance to apply the outstanding leadership skills and core values they gained from their military experience. They bring disciplines and perspectives that our teams value.”


How is a veteran an attractive candidate for employment in the logistics and supply chain field?


Military analysts expect approximately 200,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to be released from active duty each year for the next five years. A hurdle for veterans is that the excellent skills and traits they bring from their service careers don’t easily appear to translate directly into new civilian careers.


So let me translate those excellent skills and traits for you.

Through military experience, veterans have honed leadership, teamwork, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and have learned how to work under intense pressure—all top-rated competencies sought by employers. According to Bill Offutt, executive director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s HireVetsFirst campaign, veterans have a strong work ethic and exhibit loyalty.


Working in logistics equates to operating under extreme pressure. Despite the rigidity of military regulations and the certainty provided by standard operating procedures, officers and enlisted soldiers alike are accustomed to making significant decisions in stressful conditions, under the threat of physical harm and in a myriad of uncertain situations. The ability to creatively solve problems using the “field expedient method” in the face of unprecedented situations is a quality for which companies will find immense value from a Vet.


Vets are trained to keep a watchful eye on the big picture, while maintaining an immaculate, relentless sense of detail. In the military, you handle tasks according to priorities of work. It’s crucial, especially in a combat zone, to understand what needs to get done first since your life or others may depend on it!


One of the first leadership tenets we learn in the military is that, to become a good leader, one must first be a good follower. In this sense, rising through the ranks is a rite of passage for all military officers and non-commissioned officers to develop their own management styles. Working in any dynamic corporate supply chain environment requires a similar process, and often the most effective leaders are those who were able to mobilize their teams from the bottom of the chain of command, simply by setting the right example for others to follow. Lead by example is a military practice! The US Army infantry motto is “Follow Me”.


A leader in the military is always accountable for his or her team. They know how to diagnose the strengths and weaknesses of the team and ensure the unit is synergistic when facing challenges that may arise. They know how to leverage the people around them and influence them to help get that work done. I would say they have an aptitude to articulate the vision of what they want people to do

Integrity is a necessary ingredient in relationships and is also one of the most transferrable characteristics that veterans bring to the private sector.  Veterans understand loyalty; and they understand integrity. You can trust them to do the right thing, even when no one else is watching.


Veterans are accustomed not only to assessing situations and quickly formulating actionable plans, but also to performing After Action Reports, which require all members of a team to identify areas that should be improved for next time out. The ability to define clear goals, and then work with a high degree of discipline and focus to accomplish those goals is paramount. I feel it comes from a genuine understanding of both responsibility and accountability, as well as intimate experience in situations in which there is no clear precedent or path forward.


Michael Ward, chairman, president and chief executive officer of CSX, which was named to The Top 100 Military Friendly Employers list for the seventh time said “We’re committed to hiring America’s veterans because their superior training, experience in logistics and ability to work safely in demanding, team-based environments make them real assets.” Therefore, please hire a Vet!





About Thomas Tanel


Thomas Tanel


CATTAN Services Group

LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Mark Schaffer who discussed Digital Right to Repair Coalition.







It’s nice to speak with you, Mark. Today I’m looking forward to hearing your views on the topic of digital right to repair coalition. Before we start, can you provide a brief background of yourself?


Sure. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today, Dustin. My background, I am based out of Austin, Texas. I’ve been working as an environmental consultant going on seven years in the electronics industry. My background is in material science and engineering and environmental compliance work with a couple of different electronics companies as an employee of them. Since then, I have worked with a wide variety of Fortune 500 electronic companies and some other private organizations that are developing environmental standards that affect electronic companies. That’s really what I’ve been doing for the past probably 15 years or so.


Can you talk more about what this coalition is?


Sure. The Digital Right to Repair Coalition started maybe a year and a half two years ago really seriously. Really, the reason that it existed is to engage with manufacturers that are producing mostly electronics in this case and trying to work with them and also find ways to improve the rights of the consumers who are buying these products to be able to repair them. A lot of the manufacturers these days, they don’t qualify or they don’t allow a third party to do repairs much or they don’t enable it very well. It can be a challenge to get a lot of your electronic products that you have paid money for to repair based on your own choice. If I want to take my iPhone somewhere or my tablet or computer that I have, I may have difficulty getting a third party to repair it due to policies that may manufacturers may have set out. What the Digital Right to Repair Coalition is trying to do is basically enhance the consumers’ rights to be able to have the choice in how their products are repaired. They’re the owner of it; they should have the right to also choose how it is repaired.


Can you talk a little bit more about why it’s important?


Sure. What we find from a lot of the electronics and obsolescence of electronics is, you’ve got a couple of different things that happen. Certainly, people, they want the newest, greatest thing, the fastest, pretties, things like this. A lot of the electronics these days are almost more fashion accessories than they are maybe a utilitarian device anymore. What we want to make sure is that when people either need to repair their product because it’s broken or not working as well as they want it to or they decide, “Hey, I want to go to the next product,” the product they have, somebody else could then repair or re-use the right to be able to get that product back out into the market. It can have a second life and third life, a fourth life beyond the person who originally bought it. What we have found is that that ability is not enabled in many different products, different manufacturers, so what we want to do is ensure folks have the right to be able to do that with their products so that it extends the life of the product, reduces the amount of obsolescence.


If you look at it on a global scale, it does actually enable the moving of electronics from, say, Europe or the Americas, where you have a lot of users who are having these products and get tired of them and move into other parts of the world that don’t have as much access to those electronics into some of the southeast Asian markets, into Africa, into South America. That actually helps raise up those areas of society. There are lots of studies that have been done where the ability for a cell phone to get into the hands of folks in Africa has actually radically and positively changed the communities there and their ability to communicate and sell their goods. This idea of enabling repair, enabling an extra-long life or multiple lives of your devices really has global indications and we want to help ensure that that is allowed.


What are your recommendations for companies that are interested in moving forward with this?


The digital right to repair is really, it is a coalition of organizations that want support for repair. We have a lot of folks who are out there today, like SEI, a wide variety. If you go to the Web site, there’s a long list of supporters that we have.


What we really need is the manufacturers of these products to also be a part of this, to want to support this, so you get the Dells, the Nikons, the Apples, the Sonys; not to name any of them in particular, but those electronic manufacturers, they need to be on board with, “Yes, I want these products to be able to be repaired. I want the consumer to have the choice of how to repair them,” so they need to, pretty much in some cases, not prevent that because of limited accessibility of spare parts that are needed, accessibility of maybe tools that are needed, diagnostics on what needs to be fixed, how they can upgrade, in a lot of cases, software or firmware that might be in the device.


A lot of times that is, as we’re told by the manufacturer, very hard for the third parties to have access to that. The more that the manufacturer can do to basically make that available to anybody who really wants it; it’s going to be valuable. Folks who want to support that, if they come to the DRTR and can support us through being part of us or through their own activities in how they make service parts and manuals and other information to increase the life of their devices available.


Thank you, Mark. Thanks for sharing your views on the topic of the Digital Right to Repair Coalition.


Absolutely, no problem. The main message we try to tell people from a consumer standpoint is: You have paid for the device, so you own that device. You should also own the ability to choose how that device is repaired. Really, that’s what we’re all about, to provide the ability to have that choice, and that’s what we’re working toward.


Thank you.


Thank you.




About Mark Schaffer



Mark Schaffer


Sustainability Executive and Independent Consultant


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Rosanne Dausilio who discussed Managing versus Parenting Staff.







It’s nice to speak with you today, Rosanne. I’m looking forward to hearing your views today on the topic of managing versus

parenting of your staff. Before we start, can you provide a brief background of yourself?


Yes, I am an industrial psychologist by profession and president of Human Technologies Global. What we do is human-performance management. We do customer service skills training, consulting, with a specialty in the content center industry, but we’re also in other industries as well. We do a lot of executive coaching, I’m a customer service expert. I have a bias on the people’s side; I have written now ten books on the subject of customer service with, as I said before, the bias on the human. I’ve been doing it for about 20 years already now.


What is the difference between managing and parenting your staff?


My working definition is managing means to handle or direct with a degree of skill, to exercise, to executive, administrative, and supervisory direction of; to direct the professional career of a person. As compared to parenting, parenting, the raising of a child by his parents; raising, rearing, motherhood. By these two definitions, I believe the distinctions are apparent. It’s important to keep those distinctions in mind as we keep going here.


Which do managers tend to do and why?


Our experience shows that people are parenting rather than managing their staff more times than I’d like to report. The why? Here are some reasons. It might be because they’ve moved up through the ranks and are now the boss or the manager of someone they sat alongside of, maybe a former peer, and they’re uncomfortable in that position. It may be because they feel awkward or uneasy pulling rank. It may be because they had no management but were promoted into the job where assumptions were made that they could do it, that it would be no problem. And it may be that their modus operandi is parental from the get-go and any combination of all the above.


That’s interesting. To see if they fit in, what are some questions they can ask themselves?


If you want to know if you are managing or parenting, you want to ask yourself these questions. How does my communication affect the way the person’s responding to me? How does the person’s communication influence my response? In other words, am I being a parent? Am I using words like should or shouldn't, always or never? Am I being a child and using words like I want, I need, I wish, I won’t, I can’t. Am I being an adult? Am I being respectful, open, assertive, and sensitive to the person. Additionally, you can create some baseline and benchmarks by saying, in retrospect, what went well, what didn't go well? How can I improve next time? What can I learn from this? What’s not perfect yet?


What are some tips you can suggest for a good manager to do or to be?


In a perfect world, here are ten tips I’d like to see a manager do or be.


  1. Give me constructive feedback when or if there’s an issue with my performance.
  2. Be specific in what I do best so I can take ownership and continue in where I need improvement.
  3. Set boundaries and guidelines for expectations.
  4. Create a relationship of trust with me so I can count on you when I need you.
  5. Generate a career path with and for me.
  6. Give me reassurance of confidentiality in all our communications.
  7. Treat me with dignity and respect.
  8. Motivate and inspire me.
  9. Model for me; lead by example.
  10. Please don’t treat me like a child.


What’s the best way to support these managers?


We believe the best way, or at least one of the best ways, is coaching. To support the relationship by addressing topics like: What are the challenges? What are the opportunities? Are the goals that you’re setting realistic or outrageous? What’s the crystal-clear vision? How to prioritize and delegate. What are the internal and external expectations? Boundary setting; articulate communication; influencing, empowering others. If you’re asking yourself, as the manager, all these questions I put and then you hear what it is I think those tips are, you might think about having a coach. With a coach, you get really committed to your well-being and to attaining your goals both professionally and personally and then turning that to your staff.


I think the last thing I want to say about people who are interested is that you want to finish strong as a manager, and you want to support your people to be strong. If you don’t have the tools and techniques to do that, how are you going to do that? We always encourage people at all levels, whether it’s management, upper management, or up to CEOs, to get coaching to enable them to provide the best that they can do, because the better you take care of your employees, the better they take care of your customers. I don’t know if it’s okay to say this or not, because I know you’re going to take what you want, but if anyone is inserted in coaching, we have a site at


Thanks, Rosanne. I’ll include the link in the blog post.


Oh, that’d be great.





About Rosanne Dausilio



Rosanne Dausilio

Customer Service Expert, Industrial Psychologist,

Master Trainer, Keynote Speaker, Coach,

Pres Human Technologies Global


LinkedIn Profile


War for Talent

Posted by dustinmattison1974 Sep 15, 2014

I interviewed Patricia Moser who discussed War for Talent.







It’s nice to speak with you again, Patricia. We’ve done interviews in the past. It’s been a few years, so I’m glad we can talk again today about a new topic you want to discuss, which is the war for talent. Before we start, can you provide a brief background of yourself?


Hi, Dustin, it’s nice to talk to you again as well. Basically, I have been on sort of a long and winding road in regard to procurement and supply chain over the past 20-some years in multiple different industries, both as an executive, as well as a consultant. Everything from health care to government, to telecom, to technology, to retail, financial services, and so on. I have a pretty broad view of the sector as a whole of the field of supply chain and procurement as a whole given that experience.


Thank you. My first question is: What is your definition of the war for talent?


I think what basically we’re reading a lot about and seeing a lot, it’s about how the supply chain expertise and talent for roles is getting qualified people is getting harder and harder to find them. You see a lot of blogs, a lot of statistics, a lot of things out there that are talking about corporations in what seemingly is a war to get the best talent in supply chain to their organization, given that there is what they perceive as a lack in truly qualified candidates who understand supply chain in a much broader definition than just sort of the warehousing, the trucking, and distribution; that it is truly to be effective a cross-functional area that has a lot of soft skills, not only the hard logistics mathematical skills. Again, the war for talent is because there are not enough people across the board as far as a lot of the recruiters and organizations are concerned.


Why are we experiencing this problem?


I think in some ways it is a problem that has been created by both the process of getting people in to supply chain from an early perspective in school and high school and get them excited about what supply chain is. Secondarily, in regard to some of the hiring practices that are currently out there. There needs to be some education in regard to the hiring managers, as well as the HR professionals. What we talked about first in regard to the education, there is not enough outreach and understanding when kids through high school and they enter university.


They go into business in general and finance and marketing and HR are pretty well-defined within the university calendar in regard to business administration and that’s how they focus. I got my M.B.A. many years ago, and it was in marketing, and things haven’t really progressed that much further. We do have some supply chain for certifications and different things like that. There are operational aspects in some of the business degrees, but people still perceive when they go through and say, “Oh, supply chain,” it’s not as well-known; it’s still seen way too much as the tactical of warehousing and trucking and so on or the logistics, the mathematical of renting and optimization and things like that.


It is not supply chain as a profession, to use the term, it’s not seen as sexy from the youth going through the area. I’ll talk about this secondarily, in comparative to wages that you can get in finance and marketing and HR and sales, the wagers in regard to the importance of supply chain have still not caught up to where they should be; they’re still seen at that more tactical level.That’s the education; there needs to be more outreach and more of an investment from supply chain organizations, supply chain professionals to go into the educational institutions and start making a case for people to focus on supply chain.



Then we take from that as well. When you look at women, women are still significantly underrepresented in the supply chain profession. This goes back again to how it’s deemed, how it’s determined. You ask most people, and most women particularly how they ended up in supply chain; it’s by chance. It’s not a focus, it’s not a career direction; they happened to trip into it. From the perspective of you’re missing 50 percent of the population of possible really excellent candidates to make supply chain a profession, it’s still a very male-dominated area.


There are certain areas that are becoming a little bit less so, but the career trajectory and so on is not clear, and women, they don’t see it as a potential opportunity. That’s one of the reasons as well, that you are starting to have not enough people seen as talented people in the supply chain arena.


Then one of the other things is there’s a lot of talk about, a lot of people, the Boomers are retiring, so you have this gap, and a lot of the supply chain people are retiring and so on and so forth. I would almost say it as there are hiring practices out there right now that are saying, “Well, if you’re over fifty, you’re not viable to work in the supply chain arena.” I kind of counter that because a lot of times, corporations say, they try to figure out how old somebody is by whatever means they can on a résumé and so on, and the reality is that there are a lot of people out there who are highly talented, highly skilled, highly knowledgeable who are over 50 or even over 55 who can add significant value to the whole 360, holistic supply chain focus of corporation. In my previous corporate iterations, I actually hired a number of people who were over 55, who had “retired” from their previous roles and were great in the roles that they worked in the organizations with me on.



Because a lot of people say we’ve got to get younger people, well, at least when they’re over 55, you know they’re not looking for their next career jump, so I know I’ve got them for as long as they want to work there as opposed to worrying about not providing the challenges and opportunities for younger people coming up the ranks. Another HR and hiring practice which drives me absolutely batty is when I see so many job descriptions out there that talk about industry experience and that’s a mandated, no negotiation, we want industry experience.


The fact is, you are limiting yourself significantly when you try to have that as your hiring practice, and in a lot of ways, you’re not getting the best people who are available in the marketplace because industry experience in one way, it’s good if you have some people who have industry experience within the team; however, one of the things I’ve always said is, “The best thing I bring to the table often is ignorance of how you do things in your organization,” because I’m not locked in to, “Well, this is how we do it.” I become the three-year-old child saying, “Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?” I have hired a lot of people—and most people who didn’t have industry experience but had basic skills and certainly the attitude—and it was a great mix because they raise everybody’s game. People who have industry experience are valuable too; I’m not saying they’re not.


But you can’t have all the “like” people, and the fact is that you are, again, limiting the talent pool from where you can choose. Finally, one of the things I mentioned earlier is wages for supply chain professionals have not reached the level that indicates the importance that they have to the organization as a whole. From my perspective—and I know some people might argue with this—supply chain defines the client experience. There is the grabbing the revenue side, but supply chain is the client-retention side. You can actually, and even in supply chain, you can create some uniqueness that is a differentiator in the marketplace that can actually gain clients too, but when you’re looking at why a client stays, it definitively has a lot to do with the supply chain, because that’s the experience they have.



You can go out and you can sell whatever you want to sell, but at the end of the day, it’s supply chain that touches the client, and that is the experience that they have, and they walk away with either positive or negative. Also, when you look at the portion of supply chain and procurement, when you look at the bottom line savings and, as well, innovation that people in procurement create with suppliers, there’s a significant amount of value; the bottom line savings are—total cost, not price, because that’s a whole other conversation, Dustin. Having the cost-savings element, well, that’s as helping the bottom line of the corporation as well, but whereas sales people get commission for their revenue, the savings aspect of what procurement does is not seen in the same way as revenue is, although it so adds to the total viability of a company today and, as well, in the future. Those are some of the things there that I believe. You need to have more outreach to younger people to show them that supply chain is sexy and a really cool place to be, and it’s innovative and creative, and if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be in it.



We need to have more outreach to women and also demonstrate a career trajectory that is effective and appropriate and that, again, also showing that supply chain is a really cool place to be and that there are female role models and mentors and so on who can help to move women up that trajectory. We need to focus on not limiting, always getting the best talent but not limiting it by what you see as somebody’s sort of ready to be, at 50, is over the hill and ready to put out to pasture because, quite honestly, I’ve found some of the best people in that age range. And limiting your hiring practices and not always saying “industry experience.”


Expand your horizons and be open to alternatives from different industries that might think more innovation, creativity, and ask a lot more questions about how things are done in that industry and then bringing the wages up equivalent to sales and marketing, all these other fields that supply chain needs to get up there to also get more people into that profession.


How can the war be won?


I think a lot of things. I think, number one, as I said, you need to, HR needs to challenge the people who are doing the hiring to expand their thought processes. People need to take off the blinders and accept people from a broad perspective. The other thing is, too, don’t always look for people with, same as not just within industry experience; not just with supply chain experience, with overall business experience and with some exposure to the area of supply chain and so on because you can broaden your talent pool just with that. I do believe that, again, just a broader perspective in regard to I said, we need to show a much broader viewpoint of what supply chain is; supply chain is not just about going from A to B and getting the right product at the right time to the right place and so on. There is a lot of cross-functional thought process that can go into it, a lot of strategy and top-line input into the strategy of the company and so on. We need, as a profession, to show the linkage from the supply chain as a whole to the overall corporate strategy. I think from that perspective, it makes it a lot more interesting. People don’t see it as just one area in the company.


One of the reasons I like supply chain is because you do need to know about every aspect of the business to be successful in it. You need to know about sales, you need to know about marketing, you need to know about finance, you need to know, obviously, all the supply chain arenas, and you need to also, production and the people in production. You need to know how to bring all the warring factions—you’re a diplomat; you bring all the warring factions to a common purpose. Supply chain is important and it is a sexy, cool area to be in, and it’s an area that is growing in importance. I also think that it’s important for the top people in organizations—CEOs, CFOs, and so on—to have a very, very clear understanding as to the impact of supply chain, which inevitably should translate into higher wages. People don’t notice supply chain when it’s working well, but they always notice the moment there’s a glitch because of the importance to the end client and how the end client is satisfied with the company as a whole.


As long as the top line in the corporations don’t understand how supply chain intimately and integrally affects the entire organization, you’re not necessarily going to get the wages up to where they need to be. And I also would suggest that in every organization, you have a senior leader who is responsible for supply chain procurement who is at the strategic table, who is there providing their input, because, again, once you have identifiable people in the top of corporations, people will see it as a great career option for them moving forward. In a lot of places, supply chain is still a little bit hidden in the background, and until it becomes in the foreground, we’re still going to have difficulty getting people to go into it from the beginning.


Thank you, Patricia, for sharing today your views on the war for talent.


Thank you, Dustin. It was great talking to you again.




About Patricia Moser



Patricia Moser

Innovative, Strategic ,Results-Oriented Leader- SME in

Supply Chain, Procurement, Operations, Sustainability


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed John Wilkerson who discussed Supply Chain Revenue Growth.







It’s nice to speak with you again, John. It’s been a while since we last talked. We’ve done interviews in the past. Today I’m looking forward to hearing your views on this topic. Before we start, can you provide a brief background of yourself?


Sure, and thank you for inviting me to share my point of view. Thank you. I’m John Wilkerson; I’m a supply chain and technology executive. During my career, I’ve been fortunate to work for some very well-known and exciting employers, such as Pepsi Cola, Nestle-Purina, and Dannon since the early 1990s, when my professional career started. My background ranges from first-line leadership to executive supply chain leadership for North America, just leadings in the 2000s. In my last role with Dannon, just to give you a very quick background, I successfully managed 50,000 retail-store outlets. Since that time, when I started my consulting practice with a couple other folks, we’ve been a much, much broader and taken a different perspective in several sectors, including financial, industrial, high-tech, pharmaceutical, consumer products, logistics, and health care. That’s basically about me. Just as part of my transformation, I transported myself several years ago to talk about this particular topic and forced myself to become an even broader thinker. I’m excited about this topic and happy to answer your questions.


What have you been involved in since our last interview?


Since our last discussion, one of the things I started to focus on, going beyond that traditional goal of procurement, demand, planning, supply, and operations, one of the things I started focusing on was actually what our organization can do to impact the profit-loss statement of the balance sheet. Investors are concerned about what’s going on in the P and L and also overall balance sheet. One of that things we started focusing on is what supply chain organizations can do. Today what we do now is look for opportunities to make the supply chain more efficient with those basic functions, but we also take a much broader perspective in looking for opportunities to put supply chain to generate their own supply chain revenues. The intent for doing that is obviously to make organizations better, supply chain organizations better but also to improve the balance sheet and look at funding their own internal investment capital. It’s exciting times and we find the industry’s changing slow but is changing.


Can you tell me more about your supply chain revenue-generation concept?


I’m actually very, very excited about the topic. I think that we’re not necessarily in the forefront, but there are others who’ve talked about this, so I can’t claim being in the forefront. What I can do is talk about some personal experience and then relate that to the sticker topic. I recall when I led the supply chain organization for a consumer products company that I had to shift monies around and worked with our CEO to find a way to source an inventory planning tool is an example. One of the things I did was hire a solution provider to be able to help us with order management and streamline our process. One of the things I found in that experience is that it just didn’t create value, and it actually became more of a headache than the long-term value. I took that experience and have taken that to sticker concept of supply chain revenue generation. Just to give you a quick background, I had mentioned that I personally went through a transformation, and what I found is that the view of a supply chain organization, the future supply chain organization is to help develop this opportunity. Once they see the opportunity and see the revenue string, then I see this as a win-win, including for the customer, the supplier, and the entire supplier organization.


Thank you. Can you share supply chain revenue examples or best practices?


Sure, and thanks for asking the question. Let me give you one illustration. The natural gas industry is a very global industry, obviously. It’s striving well here in the U.S., Africa, and a number of places throughout the world. Think about it; there are hundreds of small suppliers, midsize suppliers, and large suppliers. If you're a supply chain organization and you’ve identified a number of small suppliers who you want to go out and develop and help mature them, one of the things you can consider is that the small supplier does not necessarily have the view of the local market. I’ll use Africa as an example. They’re producing tons of natural gas, they’re producing that, but they don’t have visibility of local market. If I’m a supply chain officer for mid- or large-size natural gas provider, I want to help that smaller supplier, help them develop their local market with my own existing technology tools, and then if I can help them, then I can see them the big win-win all throughout. The win for the supplier is that they’ve got visibility of market, they can see what’s there; they can adjust or demand and supply plans according, or they can identify new markets when they, an example maybe they go to a different country, a different region. They have a business profile opportunity.


For the supply chain organization being self-serve is that if they can generate revenue for tools that they currently own today, that’s a win for them and gives them an opportunity to do some self-funding for other events and projects. If I think about the CFO and chief marketing officers, the CFO’s going to be happy, definitely, because there’s additional revenue source that’s unforecasted, which helps. Think about the chief marketing officer that they have an additional story to tell that cutely help separate themselves from the pack. All rev, I see this as a win-win-win for all parties. It’s a good illustration, simple, and I hope it makes sense.


Thank you, John, for sharing today on this topic of supply chain revenue growth.


Definitely thank you and thanks for the opportunity. I hope my short talk created value for your community.




About John Wilkerson

Below is the video that defines our supply chain operational excellence process that was broadly discussed during our talk.

Redefining Supply Chain Operation Excellence - YouTube



John Wilkerson

Senior Global Supply Chain & Technology Executive


LinkedIn Profile