“So how’s business?” said the supply chain CEO fishing around for a sense of where I thought the economy and consulting world is headed. In the past I would have said consultants get real busy during a down turn when leadership still needs to deliver but hasn’t the staff they once had. This cycle seems different. I’m seeing a new dicotomy; either my clients ask “What are you doing tomorrow? When can you get here?”, or they stall and posture and delay, hording their cash, uncertain what the trends are. It’s either desperation to act on something immediately or fear of the unknown. Where’s the vision? In the past three or four weeks a new theme seems to be coming across the radar screen – This too shall pass. So when the current economic malaise starts to turn will you be at the head of the pack or a follower? And now the CEO is asking for ideas. I offer a few:
- Forget about order fulfillment and start thinking about how you can offer alternate bills of material.
- Shift focus from moving product to managing services.
- Reverse logistics is going to either bite your ass or put you out of business.
- Real-time data up and down the chains (not a new idea, but OK, let’s get on with it…).
- Reduce commodity costs by creating consolidated demand and supply pools.