Role of IT in supply chain management

Supply-Chain-Management-Keyboard

The goal of supply chain management has traditionally been expressed around the right product at the right time in the right place concept, and to increase effectiveness and efficiency.

Supply chain management is more than the movement of goods and money, increasingly it’s about the value of information. Information in real time can be used to find micro duration opportunities and exploit them, and, information about goals, trends, intentions, solutions and problems can be used to create a collaborative environment.

What about the role of information technology (IT) in supply chain management?

We could argue that matching supply and demand perfectly would be a desirable goal with tremendous benefits. However, forecasts or an understanding of requirements tend to have an element of uncertainty. Thus reducing uncertainty in all elements of the supply chain, for example, in forecasts, schedules, market needs, etc is of value.

Any type of forecast or requirement could have a range of possibilities where we tend to choose the most likely possibility or value, what if we had perfect information such that we knew with certainty the actual amount or product attributes required? This would eliminate the need to link forecast values with likelihood estimates since the forecast would equal the actual outcome. While ideal and difficult to ever obtain, an IT system that reduces uncertainty around our information moves us closer to the ideal.

Therefore, a value that IT can bring to supply chain management is the ability to help eliminate the fog of uncertainty.
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Project Management in the IoT and AI Era

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PM metrics need to be more future oriented to include the ability of the deliverable to evolve and adapt.

Currently with project management we use the traditional metrics of cost, schedule, and achievable of requirements (deliverables including quality).

As we move into the internet of everything era, where AI could manage projects, many of our deliverables whether they are a house, an IT system or a marketing campaign will be expected to evolve and adapt over time.

Given that technology will make it possible that our deliverables will be more akin to a platform than a static delivered asset we need project management metrics that incorporate a measure of this new type of ability.

As a platform, we expect it to adapt over time as requirements change, for example, a house needs to have the ability to adapt to the environment, and to the occupant. In addition, our house needs to evolve to incorporate new technology as it becomes available.

As such, metrics that project management should incorporate is the ability of the deliverable, after the project has ended, to:

–         evolve over time to new innovations

–         adapt to new requirements of the user

This need to adapt and evolve would appear to hold true for many industries/professions including marketing campaigns, IT initiatives and even new product development. This suggests that PM metrics need be updated to include the future potential of the initiative.

There is an project management simulation available for educational institutions see here.

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Creativity, innovation or adaptability which is most desired skill?

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In today’s real time, data intensive, AI and IT driven world which is the most desirable skill for people in an organizational environment?

Creativity – the ability to create something new

Innovation – the ability to implement something new

Adaptability – the ability to change with the evolving environment and find solutions that work in new realities.

It can be argued that the ability to adapt has some elements of creativity and innovation, for example, adaptability could include the abilities to detect when change is needed, derive a new approach and then implement it. This includes elements of our own perspective and knowledge as well as those in our environment such as processes. Thus the aforementioned definition would imply the ability to adapt might be a higher level skill than the other two, incorporate elements of the other two and thus most desirable.

Although an adaptive person might also simply be a person, who changes their approach based on external force using a solution and decision provided to them, this doesn’t reduce the value in having the ability to adapt as the world around us changes.

An informal and unscientific survey of MBA students that I know suggest that adapability is the number attribute that organizations are seeking today. Maybe even more than people and communication skills?

Interested in simulations available for educational institutions see here.

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What 20 things are Angel Investors looking for?

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While each investor tends to have their own preferences, the following are areas of focus:

1 Intellectual property which is protectable.

2 Experienced team with the demonstrated ability to implement.

3 A team supported by investors and advisers who have connections to potential partners and first customers.

4 A team that listens, and is interested in new ideas.

5 The team has an understanding of and a plan to manage risks.

6. An ethical team.

7. The team understands the market, customer, competition and value of their solution now and into the future better than anyone else.

8. The team knows how to communicate

9. The team can create a positive ethical organizational culture that focuses on creativity, innovation and results.

10. An emerging market area with solid growth potential.

11. A solution that is different than what might be currently available.

12. Customer validation with a solution that measurably solves a problem.

13. A long range funding structure.

14. Multiple market possibilities.

15. A Product migration roadmap.

16. Word of mouth or viral marketing potential.

17. A network effect – The more the product sells the more valuable it becomes to new customers.

18. Company doesn’t rely on government action or inaction.

19. An exit plan for the investor.

20. An attractive ROI with a reasonable likelihood of achieving it.

There is an entrepreneurship simulation available for educational institutions see here.

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Want an Ethical Culture?

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“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

Consider two recent events:

1)     In the United Airlines’ event of a passenger being dragged off the plane, some passengers protested but the crew and passengers didn’t act.

2)     During the recent US congressional hearing about the recent FBI Director’s private conversation with the President, the Director was asked why he didn’t react and say something about what the US President asked him about the Russia investigation. FBI director Comey replied that he was in a state of shock and didn’t know what to say or do.

In emergency response organizations such as police, fire and military, practice improves the individual’s ability to respond effectively to an emergency. In an emergency, one’s thinking ability diminishes and we tend to fall back on instinct and what we have already learned by rote. An emergency tends not to be a time to think out a solution to the situation but a time to act. We, as a species, aren’t good at thinking in an emergency, its either fight or flight, thinking doesn’t tend to fit.

We often see situations in organizational settings, where an individual is confronted by a situation that they hadn’t considered before. We know how that tends to come out, the individual mentally freezes, goes with the group consensus or where the pressure point is and then later regrets their action (or lack of action) and words.

Thus in an organizational or education system, a valuable learning style for changing or enhancing a student’s or employee’s ethical stance is practice.

To increase an individual’s ethical decision making, the ability to act correctly in a real time situation, resist inappropriate group think, resist inappropriate pressure and persuade a group to act correctly, we need to practice.

Knowing how others will think and act helps us find the appropriate decision and strength to act.

Organizational training and education should incorporate practicing ethical decision making in a role playing environment.

There is value in knowing, apriori to a situation, how other people will act.

While discussing ethics is an important component of an organizational/education ethics program, the more effective approach is to practice it in a group setting with dilemmas and each member of the group role-plays their participation. We tend to react better when we have practiced, and in a group environment, when we know how others will react. There is a role playing ethics simulation available to help strengthen the ethical culture within students and employees see here.

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What does Music tell us about Leadership?

 

Consider an orchestra, we have the different music sections and the conductor leading. Traditionally we think of the conductor as being the leader. When we listen to a symphony we hear the harmonized music, each section of the orchestra contributing to the whole, each section blending together to produce the sound. The conductor facilitates the blending of the music. If we look at the musicians, each are highly skilled with their own instrument.

Refer to my early article where I said that leadership is creating an environment where other people can be successful (See here). Its not a job title.

If we define leaders as those that create the environment such that others can be successful, then a leader is the composer. By understanding what each musical piece can do, the composer has figured out how to blend their capabilities together to accomplish a vision.

The implication for the organizational world, is that leadership can be defined as the person who helps:

1)     create that musical score (organizational environment) where success is possible.

2)    each participant understand their role in the music (organizational vision).

3)     each participant derive enjoyment from practicing their profession within a larger harmony.

Want to be a leader? Be a composer

Interested in leadership and ethics see my simulations here

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My Top 3 Observations as Chair of The Startup Awards

As Chair of the Startup Canada Startup awards, I have just finished reviewing many of the many more applications for the 2017 awards, here are my top 3 observations:

1) Young people are seeing entrepreneurship as a profession and I’m seeing that they understand how to merge a diverse set of experiences, focus and education into an entrepreneurial career.

2) Social enterprises, non-social startups and CSR programs are melding to form a mindset of using business to make a positive difference in people’s lives, perhaps one day there will be little difference between them as they will all view businesses as solving the problems of the world.

3) Once the entrepreneurial culture and tool set takes root in a country then a diverse set of opportunities starts to appear for citizens to utilize.

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