Are You on the Supply Chain Naughty List or Nice List this Year?

Naughty or Nice List

Supply Chain is a very difficult business area to work in.  It is not for the faint of heart.  But the fact that it is such a challenging area, promising both risk and reward, is one of the things that makes it an exciting career path.  At any point you can be on the Naughty list or the Nice list.

These are hard jobs.  I’ve heard it said many times that just staying afloat in Supply Chain is success because there are so many things that could drown you from one day to the next.

And even though the Supply Chain is absolutely essential for running virtually any business the Supply Chain team doesn’t always get the recognition they deserve for keeping the company afloat.

So we felt that it was time to sit back and reflect on what kind of year you’ve had and think about what you’ve done, what you’ve overcome, and what you’ve accomplished.

What do you think?  Are you on the Naughty list or the Nice list?

A part of the challenge in Supply Chain is dealing with issues and problems that are, and are not, of our own doing.

Customers under forecast demand but want their increased volumes tomorrow anyways.  Politics and government actions disrupt continuity of supply.  There isn’t enough cash to run the business.  Someone in your Supplier’s organization embezzles funds or screws up product quality.  A Carrier doesn’t file their paperwork on time or correctly and you can’t get your goods out of Customs.  A data entry error somewhere along the way overstates your inventory on a part which you find out when you go to get the part on a warehouse shelf and its not there.

Naughty or Nice list

It doesn’t matter where the problem originated from, or whether or not it was your fault.  What does matter is how aggressively and intelligently you deal with these unforeseen problems and drive them to resolution.  

Further it is important as to what measures you subsequently take to improve processes, controls, structure and your Supply Chain network to prevent, if not eliminate, these problems from recurring in the future.

The Naughty and Nice Lists

Depending on your job the lists may be different from what we’ve created here.  If your job scope is different the concept is still applicable.  Just make two lists, one itemizing those things that went well (the Nice list) for you over the last year, and the other for things that didn’t go well (the Naughty list), or rather didn’t start off well.

For the Naughty list it may be that a problem was of your own making, or a problem that originated elsewhere ended up on your desk for resolution.  If you were able to solve the problem then the problem should be on the Naughty list with the solution of the problem showing up on the Nice list.

The Nice list should be a great summary of accomplishments, both planned and unplanned.  I expect it will include a combination of tactical and more strategic actions, proactive and reactive activities, and anticipated and unexpected outcomes.

Nice list

The Naughty list should also be a great summary of problems (again not necessarily of your own making), issues, and unforeseen situations.  There may be some personal items, customer issues, and supplier issues.  Some of these items may still be problems but others I expect will have been addressed or are in the process of being addressed.

Naughty list

It is most important to study the Naughty list as you make your plans and establish your goals and objectives for the coming year.  The Naughty list should provide insights into broken processes, kinks in your Supply Chain, organizational problems, and more.

With that experience considered you should be able to take steps and implement measures to create an even greater, more robust Supply Chain for the future.

The Naughty List or the Nice List

I would bet that most anyone in Supply Chain would be on both the Naughty list AND the Nice list.  Unless your job is so basic that there is no opportunity for error any Supply Chain job is bound to be faced with some type of problem over the course of the year.

But Supply Chain professionals know that problems of some kind can always occur.  What is most important is how they deal with these issues.  Being professional, intelligent, hard working,  proactive, preventive, and decent are hallmark traits that overall put any Supply  Chain leader on the Nice list!

Originally published on December 4, 2018.