To Infinity and Beyond! Breakthrough Training Principles to Create a World Class Team!

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The Supply Chain team was generally viewed as lacking in skill and capability by those outside the organization.  Customers and other internal functions viewed Supply Chain as a dysfunctional organization as evidenced by the poor Supply Chain performance metrics.  And external benchmarking placed our Supply Chain last amongst our competitors.

Inside the Supply Chain organization there were a lot of very smart people.  But there was no trust, teamwork or synergy.   The culture was one more of complacency than of trend setting.  And there was a lack of inspired leadership.

Something had to change!

Continue reading “To Infinity and Beyond! Breakthrough Training Principles to Create a World Class Team!”


10 Great Lessons Learned in Business!

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Blog post originally published by Team Traction (   )  and permission to publish provided by Jeff Bain at  


In reflecting back on over 1,000 sessions and almost 10,000 hours of working hands-on with entrepreneurial leadership teams, I’ve observed and learned some great lessons that will help you and your leadership team.

My hope is that these lessons will serve as constants for you as you build a great company, and that they’ll give you insight, something to shoot for, peace of mind, a wake-up call, and a few aha’s.


Continue reading “10 Great Lessons Learned in Business!”

Supply Chain Personified! The Link Between Your Company Silos!

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How many parts of your company act as independent silos?  How many functions in your company conduct themselves like they are islands?

One of the main problems in a functionally organized company is that those functions over time can become isolated from each other.  The responsibilities, metrics, skills, strategies and mandates for each function can cause people to put their functional focus ahead of the greater company objectives.

But the Supply Chain team is uniquely positioned to bridge all of these silos and islands.  Supply Chain is truly the link that can hold your company together!

Continue reading “Supply Chain Personified! The Link Between Your Company Silos!”

What is Mentoring?

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Blog post provided by Ron Emery


A mentor is a person who can be a sounding board, someone of experience who can listen and help development, while not losing sight of reality.

Mentorship is actually rarer than we think but true mentorship is a beautiful thing.

“Mentors should keep their protégés’ feet grounded, and support and stretch them to succeed personally and professionally,” says Debbee Dale in “How to Set up a Mentoring Scheme.” I think that is a perfect description.

It is slightly more than just business in the fact it is a selfless relationship on the side of the mentor. It is a giving of one’s advice and counsel, and the mentor is not upset or hurt if the protégé chooses a different path.

Mentoring does require a skill that is not necessarily in everyone’s demeanor. Jealousy often gets in the way of mentorship and probably is the biggest reason these relationships fail.

“Mentoring is an intentional, developmental relationship in which a more experienced and more knowledgeable person nurtures the professional and personal life of a less experienced, less knowledgeable person,” according to Wayne Hart in “What is Mentoring?”

Hart also says:  The primary focus of a mentor is development of an individual with an eye to organizational outcomes as well as personal outcomes; the capacity of the mentor to influence rests heavily on his or her ability to relate in a nonauthoritative way while, paradoxically, guiding the mentee or the protégé from the perspective of a superior position and expertise.

Many of these relationships, which may start out in a professional way, really turn out to be close personal friendships as the relationship continues. Mentors must pull and push their protégés.

Mentoring requires strength in two different but complementary behaviors. First, mentors must lead by guiding interaction with their protégés. Mentors invest themselves in their protégés and uplift them, providing not only support, but empowerment. Secondly, Mentors must support protégés.

Mentors push their protégés to become their best by encouraging development in areas of expressed need in their inventory. The protégé actually responds by not wanting to disappoint the mentor, which helps the protégé mature immensely. Mentoring is a spontaneous endeavor and in most cases cannot be planned, as the activity of coaching can.

So take time to think about your influencers and just how they affected who you have become and if it has been a positive influence, tell your influencers. Make their day; show them what they have done to help you.

A while back I happened to run into an old college professor I had when doing my undergraduate studies and I told him what an impact he had on my life. I told him how he got me to look at things differently and how he still influences what I do today. He looked surprised. It is not that often that someone tells us we made a difference in their lives, but it is a great feeling when they do.

I have often said that 10% of the folks we have touched will tell us that we have touched them, but we have touched so many others who have not told us. Many teachers realize that. Teachers by the very nature of their jobs touch hundreds of lives per year but only a few relationships come back to them later in life and they are rewarded with knowing they truly made a difference in their student’s lives.

Think about how many times we did make a difference and no one told us that we did. Tell someone you made a difference and this is how you did it. You will not regret doing that.

If you wait, time may pass you by and you will regret never having that conversation. It is a powerful conversation to have. For those faint of heart, bring the tissues.



Check out  Be a Farmer … of People!   also by Ron Emery.

#Mentoring #Mentor #HumanResources #Jobs#SCM #SupplyChain

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Supply Chain Management (SCM) is Becoming Younger, More Educated, More Diverse!

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Blog post provided by  Argentus is a boutique recruitment firm focused on Supply Chain and Procurement.


Everyone knows that the demographics of the Supply Chain industry are changing. They have to. Within a few years, demographers estimate that 400,000 baby boomers will be retiring in Canada every year.

Within the Supply Chain industry, the looming – and in fact, already-started – retirement of baby boomers and shifting job responsibilities brought about by technology are creating a talent crisis.

Continue reading “Supply Chain Management (SCM) is Becoming Younger, More Educated, More Diverse!”

Quantum Leap to the Top 10 Supply Chain Skills of the Future!

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There are many exciting advances in Technology these days!

The proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and Robotics, Industry 4.0, Big Data and Analytics, and Digitalization are all phrases that are emblematic of revolutionary changes both today and in the future.

It is important to know that these changes are not just impacting Manufacturing, Engineering and I/T.  These technological advances will impact every aspect of our personal and working lives.  And one area that will be driving these changes is Supply Chain!

Continue reading “Quantum Leap to the Top 10 Supply Chain Skills of the Future!”

To Centralize or to Decentralize? That is the Organization Design Question!

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It seems that every time there is a Management change in an organization there is movement to change the existing organization structure.

In some cases your Function or company is decentralized and new management wants to centralize everything.  In the opposite case they want to centralize everything.  And certainly there are organization structures which are a hybrid of both paradigms.

But in the Supply Chain world what is the best way to organize the function?


Forces Influencing Your Organization Structure

First of al it is important to articulate that there are many, many different functions within the Supply Chain.   Planning, Scheduling, Sourcing, Costing and Pricing,  Commodity/Category Management, Buying, Logistics Management, Inventory Management, Quality Management and many other functions are all a part of the Supply Chain.  Depending on the specific job function there may be more advantages or disadvantages for a centralized or a decentralized structure.

This is further complicated by the various environmental factors at play as well as your objectives and the results you need to achieve.

If you are in a smaller, less complex company there is a strong likelihood that individuals perform many different tasks.  And day-to-day situations demand that people do anything and everything necessary to take care of whatever is going on.  By definition and necessity tasks are likely more centralized.

In a larger company, one in which, for instance, there are multiple facilities (eg. manufacturing locations, distribution centres), geographically dispersed suppliers, and international customers the need to determine whether a centralized or decentralized structure is critical.

Geographic diversity very often requires that you have employees in countries all around the world.  If you have Suppliers in different countries for instance you need some level of support and business process structure which will facilitate supplier selection, negotiations, auditing, performance reviews, and direction setting.

Face to face communications and interaction in those geographies, at some interval, is essential for healthy and productive relationships in this example.  Hands-off management of remote suppliers is often a recipe for disaster.

Depending on your business model it may also be necessary for members of your Supply Chain team to be close to your customers.  Planning is a phenomenally important responsibility.  Working directly with your customers to decipher forecasts and turn these into actionable numbers that can be loaded into your ERP systems may be required.

By the same token it is often essential for Supply Chain to be tightly coupled with Finance and Sales as day-to-day decisions can have profound and immediate impacts on Inventory and Cash levels.

On top of that there may be other pressures from various Stakeholders in your organization.  There may be cultural norms or expectations.  There may be competitive pressures.  And there will certainly be personal preferences that individuals have based whether it be right or wrong on their own personalities and experiences.  Some people like to control and micromanage.  Others like to empower people and create opportunities.  This will certainly influence organization design.

A final distinction which I believe is pivotal in the organization structure discussion is the nature of the responsibility.  Simply put there are many tasks that can be characterized as Planning functions and there are other tasks that are more Execution functions.  This to me is amongst the most important factors to be considered!


Think Global, Act Local

One phrase I recall from many years ago was “Think Global, Act Local”.  It was a phrase defined to capture the essence of the organization design philosophy.

Specifically the notion of “Think Global, Act Local” was applied to the Planning and Procurement organizations.  The company was large and global in nature with a central headquarters and operations scattered across the globe.

With an enormous spend level every year it was necessary to negotiate intently, regularly, and aggressively with suppliers.  Leveraging the economies of scale that came from aggregating spend across categories and commodities was essential to ensure that we were able to get the best terms and conditions and competitive rates from our suppliers.  Further it was critical that we developed and leveraged our supplier relationships.  And it was important to advance the Supply Chain platform strategically which required a tremendous amount of planning and work with our partners.

As such the Planning and Commodity Management responsibilities were managed centrally: “Think Global”  Individuals and teams in those areas would take global responsibility for negotiations and Supplier management.

On the other hand we had dozens of manufacturing operations.  Each of them manufactured different products for different customers.  While there would certainly be some overlap of customers or products from one facility to the next no two sites were exactly the same.  Their schedules, day-to-day activities and actions all had to be best-managed locally.  As such all of the purchase order placement, expediting, and logistics management was managed by the individuals and teams at those specific locations.

Each site worked under the umbrella of the terms and conditions negotiated by the central team.  But they were able to operate in real-time addressing all of the minute to minute pressures and challenges in the life of a manufacturing or distribution operation.  In essence they would “Act Local”.

All of this was applied to both the purchase of goods for production as well as the procurement of non-product, or indirect, goods and services.



There is not really one best answer as to whether to centralize or decentralize certain parts of your organization.   Different functions within the Supply Chain may work better or worse in either structure.

Defining your objectives and the results you expect to achieve from an organization design is an important first step.

When it comes to contract negotiations on a global scale there is a case to be made for negotiating centrally.  But Supply Chain people are very proud people and I know of many instances where individuals who are not part of the central headquarters group are able to do much better then their global counterparts.

And there is always the consideration of Outsourcing.  There are some functions that may be better off being outsourced depending on the level of competency and strategic importance of that function to your organization.  Outsourcing itself is a form of centralization yet outsources often have diverse operations themselves.

There are organizations that operate successfully in centralized, decentralized, and hybrid organization design models.  There are advantages and disadvantages for any of these.  Critically important is understanding the culture and the individuals and the teams in your company and what is best for them.

So what is your experience?  What organization design models have you seen work or not work?  And what model do you recommend for someone facing this challenge?


Check out Is Your Supply Chain A Cost Centre or a Value Creator? 

#Organization #SupplyChain

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