Summer Reading Suggestions

June 1, 2005
For those who might want to take their work with them on vacation this summer (or if you want to catch up on supply chain subjects), Cliff Lynch has updated his book on outsourcing

For those who might want to take their work with them on vacation this summer (or if you want to catch up on supply chain subjects), Cliff Lynch has updated his book on outsourcing. Logistics Outsourcing – A Management Guide confronts one issue Lynch feels plagues the industry – poor planning. “In some respects,” he says, “growth in logistics outsourcing has continued to be more by accident than by design.” He acknowledges there are very visible successes, but notes there are far less visible failures which are often the result of poor planning, lack of understanding or inadequate performance.

Building on the success of his first book on outsourcing, Lynch’s self-published second edition navigates the key questions of why outsource, what to outsource, how to develop a strategy, and how to identify and select a third-party provider. It would be useful enough if it stopped there, but Lynch goes on to discuss ways to evaluate costs, how to define expectations and how to develop a contract. His discussion continues by looking at successful partnerships and how to end an unsuccessful relationship.

If that sounds like heavy reading for the summer, check out Cliff’s cookbook, The Gourmet Logistician at
Currently making the rounds of most business conferences is Thomas L. Friedman’s The World is Flat. Hardly a conference session goes by without someone commenting on Friedman’s observation that “supply chaining” has helped to flatten the world – that is, eliminate barriers and allow for more free and open flows. For those in logistics or supply chain management (there is little if any mention of logistics directly or indirectly), the explanations may sound simplistic, but if you want some help explaining what you do and why it is important, your friends will be impressed to learn what Wal-Mart’s “supply chaining” has contributed to their ability to buy goods at low prices.

Many of the examples in Friedman’s discussions will be familiar to supply chain professionals. What he adds in detail will be interesting. Many speakers on the conference circuit are referring to Friedman and encouraging the audience to read the book. You’ll probably enjoy it, and if your top management is reading it, it won’t hurt to be familiar with the content.

Speaking of what the boss is reading, Ken Ackerman’s Warehousing Profitably: An Update breaks with its predecessor volume in that Ken claims it is written for the warehouse manager and for his/her boss.

With a long career in warehousing and, importantly, writing and teaching about the subject, Ackerman has amassed a thorough knowledge of the nuances of warehousing operations. He addresses productivity improvements, benchmarking, technology, labor and management issues along with the question of whether to outsource or manage your own warehouse. Top management will be pleased to see coverage of warehousing costs and asset accountability and utilization. Ackerman has also published Auditing Warehouse Performance and a self-study course, Warehousing Fundamentals.

We’re back to the interesting, but not quite logistics list with John A. Barnes’ John F. Kennedy on Leadership. Not just another book about the popular president, Barnes looks at what make JFK a true leader. He presents a case that Kennedy didn’t coast but had to overcome a number of disadvantages. Images of the young politician don’t speak to his overwhelming shyness, for instance.

Kennedy’s rise was not through the usual process of accumulating power and favors, according to Barnes. Instead, he built a grass roots organization loyal to his interests. He dug into union corruption which actually earned him the support of organized labor. And when he created his team of advisors, he substituted an open-door policy for the usual strong chief of staff and formal staff meetings.

Ultimately, his team building, communication and decisiveness are good models for senior managers.