Six Rs for a Transformed Supply Chain

Take a look around. Look closely; look critically. Ask yourself this question: Where are the leaders?

How can you answer this question? Access all the media channels. Turn on the television and go to the “news” channels. Go online and browse whatever sites you think might help you find some answers.

Find any?

Did you look on the political scene? What did you find there? Probably a lot of big names, but when you ask yourself, “What have these folks done that has helped the constituents they serve?” you probably conclude that they have done very little, if anything. The current political stage is populated by folks who serve very particular constituencies very well and who, when it appears that they are unable to serve those constituencies, have grown very proficient at making certain that nothing gets done.

Every night we are treated to hours of partisan debate and squabbling on the so-called “news” networks.

A few years ago, I contacted some people I really respect and pitched them the idea of writing a book about the supply chain as it is evolving. The people I approached were Ed Hisscock, Nick Gaich, Joe Colonna, Allen Caudle and Paul Weiss of Appleseed Healthcare. I chose those folks for two central reasons. First, they are among the most respected supply chain leaders in the industry, each bringing great experience and accomplishment as leaders at such IDNs as Trinity of Michigan, Swedish of Seattle and Stanford, among others. Each had experience in consulting, group purchasing and the supplier side. Second, and equally important, is the shared sense of respect for the healthcare industry, the disciplines within the supply chain and a desire to pass on the acumen they have acquired over the years to a new generation.

Our goal was to write a book that will be as useful 25 years from now as Charles Housley’s work remains today for practitioners in the field.

To do that we were going to have to research all aspects of the supply chain as well as looking ahead and predicting the demands that will be placed on systems and people over the next two and a half decades. We have dubbed the project “Transforming the Supply Chain,” and have established a framework in which to clothe the discussion. The framework is called The Six “Rs” of the Transformed Supply Chain. Not unlike the “Three R’s” (Readin’, ‘Ritin’ and ‘Rithmetic) of American education in the period from 1800 to the late 1960’s, the Five R’s will be the grounding base for the new model. Here they are:

  • Relevance – Both in the old world and the new
  • Rigor – The employment of business discipline to all aspects of the operation
  • Rhythm – Continuity of action, though and deed – the way you live life in the workplace
  • Responsibility – Professional commitment to doing the right thins the right way ALL the time
  • Relationship – Behaving in a culture of professional community among folks with shared incentives, goals and commitments
  • Resilience – The ability to adapt, often on the fly, to changes in the industry

As fate and other business exigencies would have it, I was unable to compete my task. I went to work for a company where my responsibilities kept me from pursuing our goal. In the intervening years, Appleseed has disbanded and has been replaced in part by Optimé Supply Chain. Allan Caudle, Paul Weiss, Joe Colonna and Nick Gaich have moved on. I too have moved, joining Ed Hisscock at Optimé.

Starting next month, with the first of the Six “Rs” – relevance – I will pick up where we wanted to begin – to articulate the Transformed Supply Chain. Who knows, along the way you may hear the voices of Nick and Joe and Paul and Allan (and a few new ones as well).

Stay tuned.

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