Association Forums: Launch of Quarterly Workshops on May 31 in Toronto
By Kevin Maynard, CAE
Over the last several years, the CSCSC has encouraged dialogue and collaboration amongst key associations in the supply chain. This year, we are launching a series of quarterly workshops designed to turn this desire for collaboration into strategic opportunities for working together in even more dramatic ways. Representatives from our Pillar Associations and other stakeholder groups will participate in this initiative. We are interested in having as many organizations participate as possible and, yes, there are still a few spots open for our first session.
If you are a member of a national, regional or local supply chain-related association and would like to join this workshop, please contact Margie Stefanich
for further details. The first session will take place on this coming Monday, May 31st, from 12:00 to 5:00 pm at the south campus of Humber College in Toronto.
The May 31 session will be facilitated by Jonathan Wilson, whose article on collaboration follows. It is republished here with his permission.
Collaboration and the Value of Losing Control
by Jonathan Wilson
Collaboration is both current and cool. However, when a great idea becomes "pop," we can quickly lose sight of just why it is so powerful. So, to quote a pop song that has become a classic, "Imagine ..."
"Imagine all the people ..." with whom you work or organizations with which you partner. Imagine that, whenever they have an idea, a challenge or a piece of news, they want to tell you about it and do. They ask for your ideas – even when their problem has nothing to do with your domain or role – imagine that! Imagine that you are each so sold on your collective goal, you put up with each other's idiosyncrasies and irritating habits to achieve it. In fact, imagine that each of you recognizes value in the peculiar traits of the other partners, and draws on them to co-create solutions that combine your diverse intelligences. What you are imagining is the power of true collaboration, where diverse partners willingly combine resources and spontaneously share significant information in order to address a shared concern, with the result that they create a solution of extraordinary value to all.
And now that you have finished imagining, it is probable that you realize how many projects described as "collaborations" do not fit the label. What is it that makes collaboration so difficult to carry out? There are a number of best practices for collaboration hinted at in the paragraph above: the need for a shared purpose, an ROI for all, the easy and regular flow of significant information, capturing all the resources and insights available in a network, and so on. If these are not deliberately cultivated, the collaboration developed will offer only partial yields. There is no one silver bullet.
Nevertheless, the greatest barrier to collaboration is not the absence of a technique or skill, it is the inherent need for control that we all bring to our partnerships; we all feel a need to protect our interests.
Collaboration creates vulnerability; our interests become exposed to our partners' influence. If we feel our interests are not safe in the other party's hands, we will introduce measures to protect ourselves: control mechanisms. The problem is, as controls go up, the speed and effectiveness of collaboration goes down. These are not the ingredients for extraordinary solutions.
To minimize collaboration-inhibiting behaviours that prevent extraordinary solutions, you must build an environment of trust. You cannot build the kind of trust needed for collaboration on your integrity and competence alone. You must cultivate deep insight and understanding between partners. Assumptions and misunderstanding kill trust. Insight eliminates unknowns and lowers risk. It increases appreciation. And most powerfully, it enables partners to tap into each others' previously hidden insights and resources.
Trust is the grease in the collaboration engine. The fewer controls you feel you need to exercise in a partnership, the more likely you are to engage instinctively in collaborative behaviours: the willing and spontaneous sharing of significant information, resources and effort.
Workplace Tour Provides Connections with the Classroom
By Lorraine Chambers
Outreach and Marketing Coordinator
The activities of an international distribution centre came to life recently when students in the International Business Program at Lakeshore Collegiate of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) visited the premises of McKenna Logistics, a third-party logistics provider. The school is involved in the TDSB's Education/Sector Council Partnership Program with the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council and the Canadian Automotive and Repair Sector Council. Accompanied by their teacher, Jen Ostfield, the students were warmly greeted by John McKenna, third-generation owner of the company.
The students were provided with a full tour of the warehouse and saw first hand how goods are received, stored, moved and shipped. They were surprised at the diversity of products on hand, the international origin of the merchandise, and the variety of strategies and tools that are utilized within the centre. Throughout the tour, John asked the students questions that coincidentally reinforced their recent classroom discussions and brought the curriculum to life. The tour was peppered with supply chain terms that the students had heard and were now able to see first hand and, more importantly, understand in context. There was lively discussion about customer service, order fulfillment, the length of supply chains, responsiveness to the market, emerging markets and the advantage of second and third languages in the world of supply chain management. John engaged and recognized the individuals working in roles relevant to the discussion, asking them to demonstrate or give advice to the students. It was a great opportunity to see the business from the ground up.
While one group of students was touring the centre, another was meeting with other members of the McKenna team – from finance, transportation, sales and marketing and warehouse management – to learn more about their respective roles within the organization. At the centre of all discussions was the importance of the customer and meeting its needs. Throughout the morning, it was very easy to see the pride and passion that these professionals have for their organization and the sector.
The students were truly engaged, and appreciated the opportunity to tour the facilities and interact with supply chain professionals. While they may have entered McKenna Logistics with certain post-secondary programs and career goals in mind, perhaps more than one is now considering a future in the exciting, dynamic world of the supply chain.
Three material-handling training offerings are currently being reviewed by the Council's Accreditation Review Panel, with decisions expected early in June. These are the first material-handling-specific submissions in the National Accreditation Program. Another eight material-handling offerings, along with four supply chain-related offerings, entered in the most-recent round of submissions, are to be reviewed and voted on later in the month.
News from the Pillar Associations
Purchasing Management Association of Canada
Inaugural Awards of Distinction
On April 30, PMAC announced the winners of its three Awards of Distinction, awards that recognize leadership and innovation in the field of practice of supply chain management.
Outstanding Achievement Award: presented to an individual PMAC member who is a proven innovator and leader in supply chain management
Sylvain Lacoursière, purchasing manager, CEPSA Química Bécancour – For expertise in starting up plants and optimizing purchasing management in manufacturing, and for raising the profile of supply chain’s contribution to business in Quebec and developing the skills of the province’s purchasing professionals.
Supply Chain Excellence Award: presented to an organization that is using innovative strategic supply chain management to enhance its competitive advantage
Grand & Toy – For its innovative 48-hour-delivery sustainable supply chain program, an alternative to next-day delivery. By encouraging a shift in customer ordering to a more sustainable 48-hour standard, Grand & Toy was able to reduce its fuel consumption and shrink its carbon footprint with less-frequent deliveries.
Fellow Designation Award: presented to an individual who is distinguished through career achievements, contribution to PMAC and service to the community
Tim O’Brien, C.P.P., vice-president of procurement and corporate services at the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia – For bringing a strategic focus to ICBC, creating a strategic sourcing group and introducing performance metrics into contracts; serving on the PMAC National board for eight years, including a term as president in 1995-1996; and community involvement, coaching kids’ sports and fundraising.
The winners will be honoured at the PMAC National Conference on June 11 in Regina.
Tell the Story (Almost) Any Way You Can
By Chris Irwin, MBA
The thread that I try to weave through most what I do (including my writing in this space) is that communication can be strategic on the smallest (micro) levels. By strategic, I mean trying to get the most for the least. By communication, I mean storytelling through writing, talking or meeting with people. Sample supply chain-related stories (aka agendas) include: sharing the upside of the switch to centralized purchasing, understanding why a process is not working in practice, or encouraging diverse groups to share all their information.
Some ears may be deaf to these storylines, but there are three things that I think can help you be more strategic in telling your story (even to the metaphorical hard of hearing).
Three enablers of strategic storylines
1. Seed the idea
Communication works on networks social, informal or otherwise. People may pay more attention to things that are being discussed. Favourable discussion can lead to: “everyone is talking about how good this is, so it must be good.”
Deferring judgment, I bring you the social media example of the “tweet sheet,” which is, under one definition, a list of “key messages” that you send to your friends so they can independently “tweet” your messages to their networks and beyond.
Judgmental note: I was gobsmacked when I heard this. Isn’t social media supposed to be a bastion of authenticity? Everyone has an agenda!
The ethical discussion is beyond the scope of this column. Seeding ideas is one way to tell a story. You may be able to plant seeds in ways that fit with your way of operating.
2. Use what’s there
Again, I draw from a marketing discipline. A consultant relayed the story of working with a producer of breakfast cereal: “One of the things that kept coming up was the stat that a cereal box is read X number of times. Finally someone decided to capitalize on that real estate!” Similar rationale sits behind using the cleverly placed ads on bathroom walls.
Where are people looking already? Does the company newsletter attract eyes? Is there a place where people tend to wait (e.g., outside a particular director's office)?
Again, be wary of the line between “clever and subtle” and “overt and cheesy.” Best to keep well on the former side.
3. Question the change
I was in a discussion last month that questioned the entire premise of “buy-in.” The logic being that, looking back at theories of motivation, people won’t do what they don’t want to do. (I was in a discussion yesterday where a client had recently realized that “power” was the answer.)
Asking the “what if” question of yourself gives you what you need to go forward. So, what if we can’t centralize all purchasing? What if we can’t get reliable information from sales? The steepness of the downside may illustrate how much effort you put into this.
My secret hope is that everyone makes their case well, and the result is actions and directions that serve the best interests of all involved. (My “best” includes a good dose of sustainability.) I will get you my “tweet sheet” and cereal-box decals, if you want to help get this message out. Of course, we all realize that much of this could be (1) happening already, and (2) impossible to achieve. More of 1 will put me out of business, and I haven’t “bought into” 2 just yet.
Chris Irwin helps organizations to better align by clarifying priorities and developing skills for people to discuss, rather than debate, and collaborate, rather than compete. He is on faculty at the Schulich School of Business, and in Humber’s Supply Chain program. He also teaches in PMAC’s Strategic Supply Chain Management Leadership Program. He can be reached through his website www.MicroOB.com/about (Micro Organizational Behaviour).
Event in the Spotlight
June 15 and 16
McMaster Innovation Park, Hamilton, Ontario
Find out the latest on:
- Supply chains and flexible multimodal solutions for a dynamic economy
- Need there be a tradeoff between mobility and carbon intensity?
- Transportation in a modern economy: Problems? Obstacles? Solutions?
- Partnerships and collaboration as a competitive advantage
- Academic/government research, technology and best practices
- International perspectives on transportation and logistics
- Gateways, rapid transit and the green economy
See where transportation and logistics will be in three to five years, while you contribute to and benefit from the increasing synergies between academia, industry and government.
Keynote speakers include:
- Christopher Barry – Senior Director, Infrastructure Planning, Research In Motion Limited
- David Binks – President, Federal Express Canada
- Jim Eckler – President and CEO, SCI Group Inc.
- William Henderson – President and CEO, Purolator Courier Ltd.
- Bruce McCuaig – Deputy Minister, Ontario Ministry of Transportation
- Dr. Stefan Walter – House of Logistics and Mobility (HOLM), Frankfurt, Germany
Other Coming Events
George Brown College, Are You Ready?
Workshop for employers of small and medium-size businesses to attract, hire and retain from the diverse talent pool in the Greater Toronto Area, June 1, Toronto, Ont.
Initial: June 10
Association of International Customs and Border Agencies, 10th Annual Convention
, June 9 and 10, Niagara Falls, Ont.
Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association, International Trade Workshops
AM: Essentials of Exporting
PM: Cargo Insurance
PM: Letters of Credit
PM: Letters of Credit
Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association, IATA Dangerous Goods Training
: June 15 to 17
: June 16 and 17
: June 17
Canadian Public Procurement Council, Forum 2010
, October 3 to 6, Ottawa, Ont.