CSCSC e-Newsletter

August 22, 2013

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Council News

54 Supply Chain Education and Training Offerings Now Accredited
Through the National Accreditation Program, 54 supply chain programs and courses, including five programs added in July, are accredited by the Council. A list of those offerings, with links to information on the providers' sites, can be accessed from the NAP webpage.
Why Take a Program – Or Hire Someone Who Has Taken a Program – That’s Accredited by the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council?
Accredited offerings:
  • Meet the Council’s national standard, written in partnership with CSA Standards Canadian Standards Association), with significant input from supply chain stakeholders across Canada.
  • Are provided by recognized, reputable providers.
  • Allow you to choose whether for yourself as a student or for employees under your supervision from among the many supply chain-related offerings in the marketplace with confidence.
  • Give employers a means to evaluate applicants' preparedness for the jobs they have to fill.

Summer 2013 Alignment Survey – ICYMI

By Chris Irwin, MBA

You will see in the Council's June 2013 newsletter a survey to capture some firsthand insights on how organizations tend to align actions and intent. The three broad areas that we explored were:
  1. To what degree do people in the organization pursue the same objective(s)?
  2. To what extent do people share the same measures/metrics to gauge their performance?
  3. How does collaboration work in the organization?

Below, we share some of the insights and will continue to release findings on our website, Our underlying thinking is that performance-driven collaboration has a great chance of happening naturally when the parties: 1) share a view of what they want to achieve; and 2) agree upon the indicators of whether or not they are making progress.

It is pretty simple, but as Warren Buffett claims of investing, “It is simple, not easy.” Similarly, the recipe for losing weight is simple: Consume fewer calories, exercise more or do both. As many can attest, execution is not easy, and can beg a number of deeper questions:
  1. If I don’t have time to exercise, what do I need to change to free up that time? (Looking at connections in the wider system.)
  2. Am I healthy/happy enough, even though I am a bit overweight? (Questioning weight as the best measure.)
  3. Why do I want to be healthy anyway? (Staring into the abyss of life.)

Note: Our consulting approach can help you navigate Questions 1 and 2. For Question 3, we are happy to hear you out, but soul searching is often an individual endeavour.

Here are some of the highlights of our Summer Alignment Survey:

1. Direction is clearer from the top of the pile
We asked people to report the degree to which they thought the overall direction was clear to them and others. The clarity rises as you get further up the org chart.

But, you knew that; it's simple.

The not-so-easy part is how can you acknowledge some ambiguity in the overall direction, but make it clear enough that people can maintain congruent priorities.

Have a look at two different reasonable explanations here.

2. Authoritative decision-making, without clear criteria, breeds conflict
The survey gathered information on how decision-making fits in with collaboration, and the interplay between the level of engagement with the organization and providing clear direction.

Another simple insight emerged: When the perceived leadership style veered toward the top-down approach, people reported having conflicting inter-departmental priorities and succumbing to pressures to protect information.

Again, the challenge here for leadership is to be able to provide compelling rationale for decisions, even in the face of reasoned disagreement. This necessitates clarity on the kind of performance the organization is pursuing and how that performance is being measured.

Here’s one that pertains specifically to supply chain in regard to the question: “To what extent are you and your colleagues on the same page?” One third of respondents were evenly split between “I don’t know” and “Priorities conflict.” The uncanny symmetry repeats, with the remaining two-thirds equally split between “My immediate team concurs” and “We all concur.”

From anecdotal experience, having conversations about performance always involves revealing the connections that individuals believe are most important. These beliefs are as much art as science, such as:

  • We need profitability to drive innovation.
  • A focus on employee safety firms up our value to clients, unions and funders.
  • Efficiency means the right product in the right place at the right time.
  • Close relationships ensure long-term success.
  • Cash flow is king.

What you believe starts the story and sets up whether you are in conflict, in cahoots or out-of-touch with colleagues and collaborators. It can be worthwhile to check in on how aligned personal views are with organizational direction.


For the one-third that is sure that everyone is aligned: Good for you!

For the one-third that is sure at least their group is aligned: Clarifying the fit with other groups and the wider effort will help align actions and reduce friction.

For the one-third that is in conflict or unsure: Confirming the conflict can expose a strategic decision that can shape a shared view of performance.

It's as simple as asking, but it's not easy to get good answers from the inside.

Chris Irwin is a principal at Measure of Success, Inc., a management consultancy focussed on supporting, monitoring and improving performance. He is on faculty at the Schulich School of Business, where he teaches negotiations and stakeholder management. He brings his insights into collaboration as a trainer and speaker with the Purchasing Management Association of Canada (Supply Chain Management Association, as of Sept. 3) and its provincial institutes. Chris has an MBA (Schulich, 2006) and a BCom (McGill, 1994). He speaks French and Japanese, and lives in Toronto with his wife, three kids and one pug.


Website Links


Coming Events

Canadian Trucking Alliance, Ontario Trucking Association, Verisk Crime Analytics Canada and CargoNet, Project Momentum: Working together to address cargo crime along Highway 401 Corridor – Windsor to Montreal, September 5, Burford, Ont.
Terrapinn Holdings, Home Delivery World Canada, September 16 and 17, Toronto, Ont.
Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association, eManifest Strategic Business Planning
September 18: Halifax
November 13: Toronto
November 21: Montreal

Infrastructure Health and Safety Association, Annual General Meeting, including presentation, "Anyone Can Teach Fall Protection — Don't Fall For It," September 18, Mississauga, Ont.
Port of Halifax, Port Days 2013, September 18 and 19, Halifax, N.S.
Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council, 9th Annual Business Achievement Awards Gala, September 26, Toronto, Ont.
The Canadian Institute, Supply Chain Management Conference, October 2 to 4, Calgary, Alta.
Canadian Transportation & Logistics, Motortruck Fleet Executive, and Dan Goodwill & Associates, Surface Transportation Summit, October 16, Mississauga, Ont.
The Van Horne Institute and the School of Public Policy, University of Calgary, Northern Transportation Conference 2013: Developing a Northern Transportation Policy, October 29 and 30, Yellowknife, NT
International Warehouse Logistics Association – Canadian Chapter, Mark the date: Fall Conference, November 13, Woodbridge, Ont.
Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association, Webinars: International Trade Workshops
Incoterms 2010: November 26 and 27
Letters of Credit: December 3 and 4
Essentials of Exporting (in French): December 10 and 11
Protecting Your Business With CIFFA STCs: December 12 and 13

©2018 Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council
©2018 Conseil canadien sectoriel de la chaîne d'approvisionnement