Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Leadership in Logistics is As Important as The Technical

I have always believed leadership in the logistics field is as important, and maybe more important, as the technical aspects of the job.  As a logistics and supply chain executive you will be responsible for leading many people and, in fact, what you do will be far more about leadership than about your technical expertise.  The people you lead will have the technical expertise and the question is can you get them to do what needs to be done and have them use their ingenuity and innovation to go beyond anything you may have thought imaginable.  Some of this was discussed in detail in Adrian Gonzales' article:  Putting Leadership Development Back on Your Calendar.. and Your Budget!  He makes a lot of great points showing how important this is to the logistics and supply chain professional.

There are also many great development programs where you can "sharpen your saw" (Stephen Covey) such as the Executive Masters for International Logistics and Supply Chain Strategy (EMIL-SCS) at Georgia Tech.  This will help you gain technical expertise and help you gain leadership expertise.

Having said all of this, I love to listen to Clay Christensen of Harvard University speak.  He is brilliant in business (The Innovator's Dilemma), he is a moral and good man and he is a great leader.  His new book How Will You Measure Your Life is a "Must Read".  Listen to Professor Christensen speak on leadership, a moral compass and a direction to take in life.  As yourself what makes the "measure of a man"?  How will you judge your life? Will it be by money or by status or will it be by the good you do and what you leave to the rest of the world upon your passing?  I ask you, especially if you are starting out, to think deeply about this topic and question. This is the core question to answer.

When answering, don't forget the great words of John Bogle, Founder of Vanguard Group: "Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted".

Saturday, May 26, 2012

T. Boone Pickens on Morning Joe

I saw Boone on Morning Joe and I finally have got around to posting it.  A fantastic interview from a man who is actually working like crazy to save America.  Thank goodness for his common sense and I hope Washington will listen.

For those in the logistics industry, come to the CSCMP 2012 meeting in Atlanta and here him keynote!

Alternative Energy and ACT Expo in Long Beach

A week ago I attended the ACTexpo in Long Beach and I came away more excited about alternative energy solutions than I was before the event.  The lessons learned and the excitement around alternative energy (Mostly CNG and LNG) were fantastic.

The first item I was genuinely excited about was the transition to these fuels will not be government subsidy driven.  Rather, the pure economics of the conversion will take precedent and those who see the value will convert on their own.  We will truly do "Good for the planet while doing Good for our companies"

The second item and the clear overarching lesson is when a company is going to move to alternative fuels it truly is an engineered solution.  By far, the biggest question was: Is it LNG or CNG for the future? Most respondents would make blanket answers as if it was an all or nothing.  I continue to say you have to think of this as akin to a stock portfolio: Some bonds, some cash, some stocks. And you adjust based on the economics and your personal situation.

Alternative fuels are exactly the same: Some LNG, some CNG, a lot of diesel, maybe some hybrid (we will see where this goes - the hybrid discussions were the most disappointing).  A company thinking of an alternative fuels strategy needs to do deep and INDEPENDENT analysis on what their applications are now and anticipated to be, the pros and cons of each application, the economics and then start putting the program together.  My feeling is those who just jump in because it is "cool" and it makes them look like they are doing "something" may find their portfolio all upside down and it will be tough to correct.

I highly encourage this conference.  A great place to learn a lot.  Just keep your thinking cap on and understand a lot of people are there to sell what they have.  The true answer is analyzing what the shipper wants and then finding the right mix.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Cost Cutting or Restructuring?

I heard the silliest argument on CNBC today asking whether a company is engaged in "cost cutting" or "restructuring".  What the heck is the difference you ask?  A person went on to explain a convoluted explanation when, in fact, they are one and the same thing:  Cost Management.

Cost management is to continually look for the most efficient manner in getting products or services to market.  It is that simple.. You get more units of output for every unit of input.  Whether that input be capital or labor it does not matter in the financial equation.

Further, every company should always be doing this.  It is, in fact, why you are in business and why you "add value" and how you gain competitive advantage.

So, let's stop the silly arguments of what we call it, realize it for what it is and move on.  I could have saved CNBC 5 minutes of their silly showtime.