As I speak to supply chain audiences, I focus on key messages that are important, but sometimes forget where they came from. One key message I focus on is that the best supply chain organizations are not “managing by project” – they consider that a type of management failure.

It means that they have not proactively looked at changes – strategic changes in the landscape, issues and opportunities in their supply chain networks, evolving process performance hits, and short-term and long-term resource developments. It means that the problem has arrived – it’s not on their doorstep, and it’s not knocking on the door, it’s in the kitchen eating their lunch, and they suddenly have to call in the ‘troops’. Several companies I’ve reviewed or spoken to have highlighted this for me – Boeing Land Systems, Siemens – but I’d like to direct you today to a presentation from one of the most surprising companies, Milliken & Co. In a landscape of collapsed textile companies in the US, Milliken not only survived but has thrived. Do read their 2008 presentation¬†on “Getting Past the Plateau”. It’s worth thinking about quite carefully.

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