Dealing with Supply Chain Problems

General –

Many companies invest a lot of effort and money in improving their supply chain. The ultimate constraint of flourishing any supply chain is disturbances to flow in the chain. Finding these disturbances is the key to improving them. Most actions to seek improvements don’t increase flow but decrease noise.


We are all trained and programmed to solve problems, from kindergarten to school, from expectations at home at a young age to the best MBA schools. They all expect us to identify problems and solve them. We created a culture in which solving problems is what is expected from managers. Consequently, when managers encounter a new problem or a decision they must make, they react with a solution that seemed to work before, as they believe they must solve the problem and solve it fast.


A problem is a symptom of a deeper core problem/root cause. We focus on solving it, instead of taking the system perspective, looking from a far distance, overcoming our instinct to “focus” and solve the “problem at hand”, and identify the core problem beneath our symptoms to ensure a robust, sustainable change that will eliminate the negative symptoms (effects) we see in the system day in and day out.


The correct process for “problem” solving –

If I need to give one piece of advice, I will highly recommend going through the challenging process of analyzing the supply chain as a system. We may find that what we see as “the problem” is only an effect. Solving an effect will bring the problem (or a different manifestation of the problem) again.


While one of a manager’s most important responsibilities is solving problems, Finding the answers to difficult questions that are sometimes a source of great perplexity and distress for the organization often falls to an organization’s leaders. A company’s success depends on managerial problem-solvers. Issues arrive in all sizes, ranging from daily nuisances to organizational crises. The common belief is that managers who can systematically think through the facts, diagnose the situation, and find an accurate and workable solution will help the business thrive and prosper. Effective problem-solvers are teaching in MBA courses, believing it guides students towards achieving goals by eliminating frustration, confusion, and misunderstandings before they become unmanageable. They build cooperation and collaboration between individuals; trust eliminates rework and fosters continuous improvement. Instead, there is a belief that the best managers can often “sense” problems with keen insight. They may notice a deviation from standard team performance, such as a missed deadline or an unmet sales goal—and when the team’s plans go off the rails, these managers automatically begin the problem-solving process. Well, yet, all the companies I am working with, excellent successful companies, full of brilliant people with good intentions that are investing hours of hard work in their jobs, are facing a reality that is extremely far from where they want to be.

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