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  • 09 Nov 2016 10:05 AM | Christon Valdivieso

    Authored By: Christon Valdivieso

    Edited By: Afton Knight

    Technology has always had a way of working its way into society. From concept to maturity, technology slowly works into our lives as the shiny new thing and then fades into ubiquity. Take the recent examples of blockchain supported crypto-currency and autonomous automobiles. Less than five years ago both were “neat” ideas that only a small subset of the population was focused on. However, in the last year-and-a-half major financial institutions have begun experimenting with blockchain technology. Similarly, companies like Ford and Chevy have realized the imminent change in the auto industry and as a result, have started focusing on autonomous vehicles. The past couple weeks might have marked the next tipping point.

    Hyperloop One, a company based upon an idea from Elon Musk to quickly transport people across the country, recently made headlines for its new round of funding and appointment of a new financial executive. Taken by itself, the recent news might not seem like a game changer, but their new direction is a different matter. According to the Wall Street Journal’s Georgia Wells, Hyperloop One has reached an agreement to explore “a hyperloop system to move containers”.

    The original goal of Hyperloop One was to transport people from Los Angeles to New York City within 30 minutes, but with a focus on containers Hyperloop One could disrupt the transportation industry. Rail and OTR (over-the-road) operators will find it difficult to sell a seven day Los Angeles to New York transport time when Hyperloop One is offering the same lane for less than 2 hours. In a world where same-day delivery is growing in popularity, Hyperloop One—if successful—is poised to be the railroad industry of the future.

    This new transit system could also help smaller cities become tax-free zones as containers can be unloaded in Los Angeles and then transported and stored in places like Oklahoma within hours. The cost will undoubtedly be exorbitant, but the ROI would be significant.

    With disruptions like Hyperloop One lurking on the horizon for almost every industry, how can companies stay on the frontline? The answer might be easier than it seems. Professional athletes are faced with a similar situation every year as new recruits come into the system. Yet athletes like Kobe Bryant, Petyon Manning, and Michael Phelps remain at the top of their respective sports.

    I have read many articles by millennials suggesting an about-face from current practices to invigorate the company with youth and new ideas. However, we can learn about the folly of this thinking from people like Mike. Mike is a father of two. In his youth he loved playing sports. His favorite was basketball. Although he was not extremely tall he prided himself in the fact that he was once able to dunk. As his kids grew up he was eager to share his passion. One day when his kids were old enough, Mike decided to impress them by showing them that their dad could dunk. Realizing his age, Mike stopped to stretch before attempting the feat remembering the importance of staying limber. Somewhere in the process of showing-off in front of his kids, Mike tore his meniscus—and was not able to dunk the ball.

    The critical difference between Mike and the professional athletes is that the athletes continue to train and stay limber. Furthermore, they adjust their training to their body’s needs. The same is true for companies. Hiring a new generation of leaders is not enough to remain at the forefront. Companies that balance innovation and moderation in their culture, workforce, and systems will be more able to see the disruptions on the horizon and react accordingly.

    The business landscape constantly reminds us that there is a cost to ignoring market disruptions; but there is also a cost to pivoting to those disruptions too quickly. Thus, I supply this thought: is your company’s process meant to invigorate or innovate?

  • 27 Sep 2016 1:50 PM | Christon Valdivieso

    Authored by: Brian Nolf and Gerhard Plenert, Wipro Consulting Services

    Original Post on: Industry Week

    Recent news reports about flaws in diverse products—from a leading smartphone application to a highly anticipated aviation product, to the recent “horsegate” affair in Europe—have focused on the large number of suppliers in the chain, potentially creating the impression that the scale of the supply chain might in and of itself have been a contributing factor in these quality control failures.

    While there’s no question that the number of suppliers in a supply chain can, in some instances, result in a product flaw, for almost any product there’s far more involved in quality control than just the number of suppliers.

    If all the recent media attention to quality control has made you think twice about your own supply chain’s capabilities, it’s worth stepping back to take a fresh look at how it compares to best practices.

    Supply chains can be defined as the movement of three critical resources: materials, information and money. A failure in the movement of any of these can lead to a failure of the entire chain, whether there is only one supplier or hundreds. If a payment is late, a part held up, or there’s no data or misleading data available to track a component, the supply chain will fail.

    And, to build on this, if you think quality in a supply chain is just having the right materials in the right place at the right time, you’re not thinking broadly enough. Supply chain management must also focus on the quality of the materials, the accuracy and content value in the information shared between supplier and customer, and the accuracy and timeliness in the financial transactions.

    As a CEO, you may not be directly responsible for the inner workings of your company’s supply chain. But your supply chain is a huge contributor to the safe and timely delivery of your goods to customers—which means it’s critical to your financial success. It literally pays to be proactive in making sure your supply chain is designed for success, and that means asking some key questions about it:

    1. Is quality built into your supply chain, or do inspection and correction occur after the fact?

    2. Is supply chain management a strategic senior level position in your organization or is it a part of an operations activity?

    3. Is the movement of information and money as critical in your supply chain as the movement of materials? In other words, does it take longer to create paperwork and process payments than it takes to deliver the goods?

    4. Do you have a built-in change management process that constantly reviews the elements of your supply chain and looks for opportunities to improve quality and operational efficiency—or do your systems, policies and procedures block improvement?

    5. Does your supply chain minimize the amount of touches and the touch time in supply chain transactions, so as to reduce the number of potential failure points?

  • 05 Sep 2016 4:46 PM | Christon Valdivieso

    Authored By: Christon Valdivieso

    Edited By: Afton Knight

    Pop Quiz!

    Question 1: If a close friend of family member needed a reasonable amount of money to take a class to help them succeed at work, would you lend it to them?


    Question 2: If possible, would you start an education savings account for your children?


    Question 3: Which would you prefer, a doctor that has completed continuing education over the past decade or one that has not?


    Take a look at these three question, is it realistic to believe that the majority of people A) find it reasonable to give money so that others to help them better themselves, and B) are more willing to give money (at least to friends and family) for education? However, according to the National Center for Education Statistics for 2001, only 46% of adults 16 years or older participated in continuing education (college, work-related courses, vocational programs, etc). For the record, this number dropped to 44% in 2005 according to the same organization. Of this population only 27 percent (2005 numbers) participated in work-related courses. Presumably, most people want a doctor who has taken continuing education in the last decade, but why? The human body has not had any significant evolutions in the last 100 years, why does it matter if doctors refresh their education. The answer is simple: because technology and advancements have been made and doctors should know about it. Why then does the general working population not impose this same value on themselves?


    Recently I went back to school to obtain my masters for global logistic/supply chain. In one of my classes the professor asked, “…given the data, how many employees do we need to hire to run this example operation?” Having had almost a decade running front line operations I did the math in my head and responded, “Technically you need 19, but to accommodate for holidays, sick time, fatigue, etc. you need about 24 associates.” After 30 minutes of setting up a model and solving it turned out the answer was 23. Later we created another model to help determine a schedule. Imagine if I could have done this when I was running an operation. If I could have provided my leadership team a method for determining employee levels or created a model to develop schedules! I could have saved hours of my time and possibly saved thousands of dollars on recruiting and labor by staffing correctly.


    On a simpler level, if you are seeking a new job in 2016 or 2017, when was the last time you wrote a resume? Take a class. Do you know how to effectively use job search tools? Take a class. Are you seeking a promotion but lack the technological skills? Take a class.


    Having said all this, I supply this thought: If you could increase your value and/or marketability, would you commit to taking a class in 2017?


  • 29 Aug 2016 9:40 PM | Christon Valdivieso

    Authored by: Luis Valdivieso

    Now that the end of the U.S. Government’s budgeting fiscal year is almost over, it’s time to ask some difficult questions. Where you successful in gaining any new contracts? Did you meet your goals? The question I feel is the most important of all is did you execute your capture plan? This last one has the implied question of “do you have a capture plan”? As the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail.

    Most of us understand the basic need for plans. We understand business plans, transition plans, budgets, or marketing plans as essential to being successful. All too often what’s left out is the planning for your sales activities. Depending on the organization that can include which databases to use, sales script, and of course goals. After evaluating sales processes, it makes it easier to create a worthwhile and timely pipeline.

    Far too many businesses looking to supply the U.S. Government simply believe they can be successful by waiting for a RFP to be released, and that’s usually too late in the process. To be successful, we need to plan ahead of time. Something you have thought through already that can help you execute throughout the year. That goes as much for a budget, as a sales pipeline. With a plan you can prioritize. With a plan you can hold people accountable. With a plan you can improve processes. Most importantly, with a plan you can have success.

    Do you have a plan?

  • 26 Aug 2016 4:33 PM | Christon Valdivieso

    There is a growing body of knowledge that suggests without a full 7-8 hours of sleep, none of us are working to our potential.

    By Rosemary Coates

    original post on

    It’s no surprise that supply chain planning and operations are among the most complex processes in business. This is because everything in supply chains are based on cause-and-effect relationships across multiple supply chain partners and often multiple regions of the world. Add to this, the complexity of optimizing planning, production, logistics and inventories with complicated algorithms, software, and decisions and you can see why the brightest and best performers are often found in company supply chain functions.

    To be a top performer takes the right education, experience and brainpower to make the supply chain respond to ever-changing global business conditions. Supply chain personnel must be in tip top mental shape, alert and available to handle the inevitable challenges and emergencies which are part of our daily life.  But getting enough exercise, fresh air, healthy food and sleep are often challenges in our busy lives balanced with family and other commitments. Yet all of these ingredients are essential for top performance.

    I will be the first to admit that I skipped the gym on many occasions due to my workload and ate less than healthy meals. I lived for years on 4-5 hours of sleep per night (normal in the consulting world) and was proud of my stamina and ability to work 18-hour days.  I am notorious for middle-of-the-night Skype calls with China. But there is a growing body of knowledge that suggests without a full 7-8 hours of sleep, none of us are working to our potential.  Which makes me wonder what more I could have accomplished over my 35-year career if only I had gotten more sleep.

    I just finished reading The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington, CEO of theHuffington Post.  She makes a great case for how we have become a culture that treats sleep as wasted time and as optional. But more and more professionals are making the connection between sleep and performance.  We already know that truck drivers and airline pilots can be dangerous when they don’t get enough sleep. Collegiate and professional athletes and Olympians are now tracking their sleep patterns against improved performance results. Some athletes have recorded as much as 8-10% improved batting averages, basket shots made and race times when they get eight or more hours of sleep.  In addition, academic scores improve and in a corporate setting, decisions are better.

    So how is our performance as supply chain professionals affected when we don’t get enough sleep?  Are we alert to the changes that affect our supply chains? Are we making the best decisions? Are we as productive as we can be throughout the day?

    Are you up for a challenge?  Try sleeping 8 hours every night for a week and see for yourself how much better you feel and how much your productivity improves. Just like me, I think you will be quite surprised.

    original post on

  • 12 Aug 2016 11:14 PM | Christon Valdivieso

    Over the last couple years, consolidation and M&A have dominated headlines. Ocean liners are consolidating to stay competitive, logistics companies are merging as weak demand is straining smaller operators. Sadly, the market has remained skeptic about M&A and profits have largely remained anemic. That’s what makes Verizon’s recent purchases so interesting.

    If you missed the $4.4bn acquisition of AOL last year, or the $4.8bn purchase of Yahoo last week, then you probably missed the $2.4bn planned purchase of the cloud based fleet management firm Fleetmatics Corp—along with the purchases of nPhase, Hughes Telematics, and Telogis. What makes the recent moves interesting is that they are not consolidation moves so much as strategic steps toward repositioning. Facing a saturated mobile market and difficult margins to maintain, Verizon—a global communications company—is focused on staying at the forefront of how we communicate. Enter IoT.

    For the average consumer, IoT (or the internet of things) provides control of lights, garage doors, and cursory home security systems. For a communication provider this represents a rise in machine to machine (M2M) communications. The GSMA, an international organization tasked with uniting and advancing the mobile communication industry, reports that while, “mobile is at the heart of the new digital future…smartphone adoption is already reaching critical mass in developed markets.” More importantly, “the mobile ecosystem is a major driver of economic progress welfare globally.” Therein lays the problem for companies like Verizon. If mobile is the key to the future and is oversaturated, how can the brand grow? Worldwide data traffic and cellular M2M connections is on pace to increase from 243 mn in 2014 to almost 1 bn by 2020. This growth is expected to originate from several key verticals including utilities, healthcare, commerce (what GSMA calls M-Commerce), and automotive.

    Verizon’s planned purchase of Fleetmatics strengthens their position as a partner of traditional automakers, driverless automakers, third-party logistics companies, and various fleet operators. It seems Verizon has learned from companies like Kodak and Blackberry who failed to see the shift in technology and adjust their business scope.

    If you’ve watched or read the news the last couple years—not that the news should be trusted (read “Old McDonald”)—it is apparent that the way we do business and the business environment has changed. Verizon has illustrated how using industry specific knowledge and company trends can be used to pivot a business’ strategy. The thought I supply is this: What is your company’s role in the new economy?


    Authored by: Christon Valdivieso

    Edited by: Afton Knight

  • 07 Aug 2016 10:09 PM | Christon Valdivieso

    With all the news about logistics making, or breaking, companies don't miss this PDM.

    OnTrac Senior Industrial Engineering Manager Mike Harris has 14 years of career experience in the transportation and logistics industry, which includes creating, managing, and improving Standard Operational Procedures (SOP.)  A West Virginia University alumnus, Mike began a career with FedEx Ground following college and later returned to school in conjunction with his career to obtain his Masters of Business Administration from Mount St. Mary’s University. Mike strongly believes in continuous education and professional development. He has a proven track record of improving overall performance and employee productivity, as well as developing and leading teams through community service and peer-to-peer mentoring groups.

  • 07 Aug 2016 11:37 AM | Christon Valdivieso

    By Patrick Burnson

    Original post on

    The official launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) has created a $2.6 trillion market with a population of more than 622 million – and although implementation will be a long process – it represents an important milestone, say analysts with A.T. Kearney in a recent report.

    China, one of the most dynamic retail markets in the world, is ranked as the top country in the 2016 Global Retail Development Index (GRDI), titled “Global Retail Expansion at a Crossroads.” India’s high market potential, fast growth, improved regulatory environment, and ease of doing business pulled it up to second in the rankings.

    The 2016 GRDI marks the 15th annual edition of the report. During the past 15 years, developing markets have seen tremendous growth both in terms of population, which has grown 21 percent to 6.2 billion, and in terms of retail sales, which have increased 350 percent in developing countries and now represent more than half of total global retail sales.

    The GRDI ranks the top 30 developing countries for retail investment worldwide. The Index analyzes 25 macroeconomic and retail-specific variables to help retailers devise successful global strategies to identify emerging market investment opportunities. The study is unique in that it not only identifies the markets that are most attractive today, but also those that offer future potential.

    In the unlikely event that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will be ratified, analysts say it could boost GDP in several Asian countries, including Vietnam (#11) and Malaysia (#3).

    Conspicuous by its TPP absence has been China, of course. That nation was deliberately left out of the agreement to counter its dominance in the region. But does that have anyone worried? Certainly not Ben-Shabat, A.T. Kearney partner and co-author of the study.

    “Despite China’s slowing economic growth, the GRDI’s top-ranked country remains one of the most attractive global retail markets,” he says. “The economy is gradually shifting from an investment-driven model to one driven by consumer consumption. The growing middle class coupled with strong demand from inland and lower-tier cities and the loosening of the one-child policy will continue to drive growth over the next 10 years.”

    Come Out Swinging
    Elsewhere in the world the financial volatility due to the aftermath of the Brexit vote may have pushed some spending from the end of June into July, especially for big ticket items and luxury spending, says HS Global Insight Economist Chris Christopher. But he contends that real consumer spending growth is likely to be slightly above 3.0 percent in the third quarter.

    “Consumers came back into action in the second quarter after being cautious in the first three months of the year due to volatility in the equity markets,” he says. “Americans were shaken up by the poor performance of the stock market in the first quarter, sending the saving rate from 6.2 percent in March to 5.3 percent in June.”

    But in April, consumers “came out swinging,” followed by a relatively good showing in May and then again in June. Real consumer spending accelerated to a 4.2 percent growth pace in the second quarter from a 1.6 percent reading in the first quarter, reflecting sizable gains across the board. Second quarter real GDP advanced 1.2 percent; it is obvious that consumers are doing almost all of the heavy lifting in the American economy.

    “Consumer spending growth will moderate in the second half of this year, but will be supported by gains in real disposable income, jobs added to the economy, increasing housing asset values, and modest consumer price inflation,” adds Christopher.

    Political Uncertainty
    With increases in consumer spending expected to remain solid during the remainder of the year, the National Retail Federation today said retail sales for 2016 are now expected to grow 3.4 percent over last year rather than the 3.1 percent forecast earlier.

    Online and other non-store sales, which are included in the overall figure, are expected to increase 7-10 percent year-over-year rather than the 6-9 percent forecast earlier.

    “Economic indicators are showing positive trends for retail,” says NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay, citing the improved housing market, job growth, higher wages and other factors that have boosted consumer spending.

    “Challenges remain, with some greater than others depending on the retail category, but consumer confidence remains high and we believe that retail customers will continue the positive trends we have seen in the first two quarters of the year,” he adds.

    Retail sales in the first half of 2016 performed at a solid pace, growing close to 4 percent on a year-over-year basis, according to NRF calculations, which exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants. NRF expects gross domestic product to grow between 1.9 and 2.4 percent.

    “There are many factors that could prove to be hurdles but our overall outlook is optimistic,” observes NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Uncertainty surrounding the presidential election could make consumers more cautious, and the combination of a rising dollar and global slowdown have impacted exports, but other factors like favorable weather patterns that will help move winter merchandise support our outlook.”

    Meanwhile, the nation’s supply chain managers are watching economic developments closely, and we can bet that the NRF and will evaluate any changes to its forecast as necessary. If needed, the next update will come as part of the retail association’s annual holiday predictions in October.

  • 06 Aug 2016 3:45 PM | Kerrell Dunsmore

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  • 01 Aug 2016 9:17 PM | Christon Valdivieso

    Authored By: Christon Valdivieso

    Edited By: Afton Knight

    You could tell they do not understand what I am talking about,” Ray, a recent graduate student, said as he summed up his workplace frustrations. Like many professionals, Ray works at a company that promotes cross-functional alignment. His day consists of lots of meeting with lots of people from different functions collaborating to streamline and improve a given set of processes. Many students today, Ray included, learn all about how cross-functional teamwork is critical to alignment and success. What educators and change managers forget is that these groups all speak different languages.

    Whether the company has recently changed leadership, IT systems, or just a report type, the language inside a company is frequently evolving. Last week’s TPS report is now the CAR report for instance; and, just like a resume with industry-specific jargon on it, most of it is incomprehensible to other departments.

    Historically, kings and emperors set the national language and religion to ensure commonality and peace amongst a nation. But who sets the language at the modern day enterprise? 

    Emily, a replenishment professional, said that she spent the first few weeks after starting her job focusing on using the “right” words for her actions but during her first meeting with buyers received blank stares. In order to increase collaboration and break down silos in the workplace, it is important to be aware of these communication gaps and focus on gaining understanding. One way to do this is by paying attention to how other groups talk during meetings and try to find out the synonyms for words you are familiar with.

    Sadly, direction from most change managers and industry leaders focus on performance, vision, and information sharing to build trust. Only when dealing with IT integration does language uniformity come into play. However, if people do not understand each other are cross-functional teams truly productive? The truth is, not understanding jargon places a communication and informational gap that is detrimental to the team. Understanding what each member does and how allows each member to add more value during every interaction. Knowing other functions ensures members will understand the needs of teammates and can thus be better prepared which makes the entire team more productive.

    What Emily and Ray experienced is not unique. While cross training and job shadowing is often effective in ameliorating the confusion it is not the only solution. It takes a commitment from leadership and the associates to bridge language gaps and unify cross-functional teams. Thus I supply this thought: What language does your company speak?


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