Gaining a Supply Chain Edge

Ring in the New Year with the '6 Rs'

I cannot fully express how excited I am to have rung in the new year. Mostly, I am elated to finally say good riddance to 2009.

I would bet that most people feel exactly the same way. Let me clarify: I am ready to move out of recovery mode and really make things happen!

It's time for energy, capital, sustainability efforts, people and big ideas to come together again and grow global business. As executives, one of the things we do early in the year is to challenge ourselves on how to take our business to the next level. And I don't think this challenge has ever been more welcome than now.

In my view, the most essential thoughts we can take into 2010 are the "5 Rs" plus one: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Redesign, Re-imagine, and especially for this season, Rejoice!

These "6 Rs" force innovation into the life cycle of organizations, products and people and take the environmental focus to a whole new level. This is the view that I challenge you to embrace in 2010.

These "6 Rs" force innovation into the life cycle of organizations, products and people and take the environmental focus to a whole new level. This is the view that I challenge you to embrace in 2010.

1. Reduce: Examine your company's packaging, redundancies and areas of waste. What can be reduced without affecting customer service and quality? It could be time to streamline materials, handling or logistics. Examine reduction opportunities across the supply chain.

2. Reuse: Why throw it away if it can be recycled or repurposed? New products and ideas are great, sure, but creating waste where reusing would be better, this is not so great. What is your company doing with respect to reverse logistics? There could be a revenue opportunity for returned or refurbished products. Inventory will take on a whole new meaning in the next decade.

3. Recycle: Sure, many current and future regulations require recycling, but this should just be a matter of sound business these days - sustainable practices that add value and are "green" in terms of the environment and your bottom line. Fly your "green flag" proudly and with cost reduction in mind.

4. Redesign: What is a good design today may or may not be a good design tomorrow when your company grows. How can you redesign your distribution center or logistics network to bring new life to your business? Does your information technology need an upgrade? Or perhaps redesigning means simplifying. It varies by industry sector and company but bears looking into in the coming year.

5. Re-imagine: This goes to the heart of innovation and big ideas. It's time to kick-start our creativity again, since it has likely been stalled by the recession. What are the possibilities to expand your organization beyond the pure planning phases? What ideas will knock the competition off its feet? Is the booming China market in your company's future? Sometimes, the best business ideas begin with a spark of imagination tempered with knowledge.

6. Rejoice: Be happy that 2009 is behind us, of course. But also rejoice in the fact that companies are really about people, despite a year that has seen too many lose their jobs as companies lost their footing and their customer bases. Celebrate small and large successes and retain your organization's talented people, because you will need them. Have some fun in your celebrations and let your staff know that they are appreciated.

Ahhh .. It will be wonderful to get back to risk-taking, creativity with ideas and projects, and increased confidence and all the rewards that come with them. Sure, it will take hard work but that in itself is a reward.

How do you think the "6 R's" will help you in 2010? I would also be interested in knowing why you want to bid good riddance to 2009; there may be a few things I left out. Happy Holidays.

Tompkins Associates

TAGS: Supply Chain
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