I interviewed Sanj Sethi who discussed Importance of Good Design of Supply Chains.
What does design mean to me?
I think the easiest way that I can talk about design is what I read in a planning document mixed with what I think about it. Design to me is an integrated way of making products and services sustainable with really low maintenance but they still need to look good, they need to last over long period of time, and be able to adapt to the future needs and fit in the environments well.
Why is design important in supply chains?
First of all, I think design itself is important everywhere, not just the supply chain. But because there’s a renewed thurst on personalization and the fact that the folks everywhere, be it in the factories or be it the consumer, they are seeking personalized products and services. That makes it really important to create a supply chain that will support that. If companies do not do that, they lose out on two things. One, they lose out on the innovation part of it, but more importantly they are ready to be disrupted by others.
One of the reasons we have seen so many disruptions in the business world is because either a whole chunk of people or a chunk of orgaizations have completely missed out what their end-user is looking for or, they have been so comfortable and cozy and laid back, that they have failed to respond to what the end-customer and people throughout the supply chain are looking for. One of the cool examples is a company based in UK that started doing a digital production of creating knitwaer. What they did was that they just transformed the industrial needed knitting machines into 3-D printers. By doing this, they went on to a zero-stock, on-demand method of production and distribution, with no need for maintaining inventory or, worry about surplus manufacturing. They ended up also spending less on the usual very expensive prototyping, and that in turn, means the lead times for production is very short. You look at from any perspective and the result is that at the end, it benefits everyone. To me, design is extremely, extremely important in the supply chains.
How is it done effectively?
I think it is, while there cannot be one single formula for every single industry, while there cannot be one single formula for everyone, the effective way of doing the supply chain will stick with a couple of things. One, you have to be taking the real feedback and what I mean is real feedback I mean combining it with the desires and needs of the users, but being smart enough to be able to force or mold how you want the supply chain to give because users may want it certain way but your current technologies, your current systems might be obstacles, and you have to figure out how you can mold it to the needs and desires of the users and what you can profitabeyproduce for them.
Of course, this also means that you have to have the work power or the workforce which is built of not only people from production but people from creative side, people who can design well and that tells you why one website for the same product or sort of product is much more effective in getting the user response while another one is a complete flop. That’s what we see multiple times when new products, new services, new items are launched, and then a copycat item comes in and actually does better than the original one. The reason is when all forces align, when the creative team, the design team, the coding team, with the development team, with the quality control, they all come together and you have people who understand what will make an effective production line well and an effective chain.
Where have I seen good results?
I think the biggest example of being practical, profitable, sustainable, and with good products is Apple. As Steve Jobs seems to have said that you cannot just rely on the user needs and wants. He’s supposed to have said that Ford (the car maker) had said that if I ask the people what do they want, they would have said we want faster horses. The whole idea on just relying on one part of the equation is not going to work and I think Apple is a prime example of that. Google is a fairly decent example of that. It’s probably not the best example but they still manage to do the reverse engineering, meaning they went with what the thought would be needed and kept it redesigning. I still don’t rank it anywhere close to an Apple design, but they did build up something which was valuable and useful.
Can you please provide brief background of myself?
I’m more of a management practitioner, listener, observer, adviser. I’m also a very big tennis fan. Roger Federer to me is the ultimate design of a tennis player. As for me, I have almost three decades of experience in some high world class organizations. I worked with companies in Asia Pacific,I’ve worked with companies in North America- both US and Canada. It’s been from domains from pharma to high-tech. Initially, it was pharma but once I moved on to software and the computing, it’s been high-tech ever since. I’ve been lucky I worked with some of well-respected companies, but more importantly I worked with highly successful cross-functional teams that have helped build really innovative product, so I’m very happy to have that kind of experience.
Now, I run a company called Sethi Inc. Our website is incsethi.com and we are bringing in some IT products to the market. One of those products is an all in one application: a tablet and smartphone-based application for restaurants. We also build mobile apps , we are into NFC, which is the near field communications. We build micro sites and micro apps as well. That’s about me. Thank you very much for this opportunity to share my thoughts. Obviously, I wish every one of your readers, listeners a great 2016. Hopefully, we’ll speak again on another topic of interest. Thanks again.
About Sanj Sethi
Sanj Sethi, PMP
Mobile Apps, Digital Menus, RFID/NFC, eConsulting. INCSETHI.COM