The 7 deadly supply chain sins

May 9, 2006
"Have you ever wondered if there's a university somewhere out there giving degrees in Supply Chain Stupidity?" asks Jim Tompkins, president and CEO of

"Have you ever wondered if there's a university somewhere out there giving degrees in Supply Chain Stupidity?" asks Jim Tompkins, president and CEO of Tompkins Associates (, a supply chain consulting and integration firm "That would solve the mystery of why we continue to see companies making the same deadly mistakes over and over again." He recommends supply chain professionals learn to avoid the following sins:

  1. Selfishness
    In today's world, it is not about your organization versus your competitor's organization. It is your supply chain versus your competitor's supply chain. Therefore, it's essential to eliminate the boundaries between organizations and make sure you and your supply chain partners are really working as one to increase customer satisfaction and market segment. Share information and assure that all links have a common, holistic view of the entire supply chain.
  2. Short-sightedness
    The traditional approach of supplier and customer revolving doors is counterproductive. Instead, look at the big picture and establish a strategic plan for supply chain evolution so that you are making long-term investments. You need to be sure your cost reduction efforts are true supply chain cost reductions and not simply the shifting of cost to supply chain partners.
  3. Low commitment level
    The supply chain requires active participation throughout the organization with appropriate vendor and customer peers. Executives need to spend time with key supply chain partners, and organizations will benefit from focusing on their accountability to partner initiatives.
  4. Contentment
    Supply chain partners should always be willing to think outside the box. Envision a clear, welldefined process of continuous improvement throughout the supply chain and a shared vision of opportunities for improvement that is continuously updated. Partners must work together for individual link and supply chain improvements.
  5. Rigidity
    Legalistic pursuit of contracts and petty pursuits of "You did it"/"No, you did it" are counterproductive. Supply chain partners need to work together as one for the best interest of the total and stop rigidly applying rules and procedures. Be accountable for your actions and minimize the need to play "watchdog" over one another.
  6. Failure to prioritize
    Both your organization and your supply chain must benchmark and establish clear priorities that are mutually understood by all partners who are impacted. Leadership sets realistic timeframes and expectations for accomplishing priorities, and updates priorities as appropriate. Accepting too many priorities impedes progress and results in a deterioration of performance enhancement momentum. Use priorities to focus the evolution of supply chain excellence.
  7. Poor communications
    Tactical and strategic information should be openly shared throughout the supply chain. Minimize surprises. Put procedures, processes and technology in place to assure that all partners have the same view of the evolution of the supply chain partnerships. Assure that communications within your link are shared with your partners.

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