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  • John Melbye

Season Two, Episode Four

Find the right road I dislike using a flathead screwdriver. Hard to hit the target, hard to hold position and with every twist I must reset my grip which causes me to have to start over again.


Now, the Philips head (or Torx or Star) makes a solid connection with the object in question and I easily complete the task without difficulty. Obvious. The Philips head is an improvement. In hard to reach or hard to see areas, it’s a dramatic improvement. Philips head is BETTER.


Invented in 1936, according to a quick search. 84 years later, why does the flathead screw still exist? Why have we not completely abandoned the flathead screw (and by extension, the flathead screwdriver?


Then I started thinking about Supply Chain and the challenges faced by supply chain professionals all over the world in terms of inventory management. Our common struggle is that we run out of parts we need, and we have too much of parts that we don’t need.


We all can agree that having the right amount of inventory is valuable. Yet most businesses have too much of the wrong stuff and too little of the right stuff. Why do we insist on using the same tools and the same thinking as always instead of accepting that the world has changed and new thinking is required? Why do we find it so hard to admit that the tools we are using no longer work? And better yet, when someone develops a system that does work, why do we not find the time to learn more about it?


The methodology of Demand Driven Material Requirements Planning challenges our belief in the tools we’ve been using and have come to rely on. As more and more companies find their way to exploring this new methodology, they find that it need not be an expensive solution and that it doesn’t require completely disposing of our beloved tools.


They have also found that the firefighting done by most in supply chain is less necessary. The chaos that surrounds the daily life of a supply chain professional is reduced significantly. And the goals of reduced inventory investment along with better product availability (let’s call it customer service) are simultaneously achieved.


I get it. I really do. You feel like you’re in the neighborhood of the solution. You feel that you are really close, just missing the target by a small amount each time. “Next time, I’ll get it right,” you tell yourself.


But it’s like driving in a neighborhood with a lot of cul-de-sacs and dead ends. You might be able to see the house you are trying to reach, but close does not equal correct. If you are not on the right road, you will never achieve your goal. Going faster will not help you. You must find the right road.


Demand Driven Material Requirements Planning is the methodology that will open the door leading to the correct path and solution to your dilemma. You may believe that you’ve made the old tools perform admirably, but make sure that it’s not balancing precariously upon your special skillset. In this world of disruption, a series of workarounds and duct tape solutions may not carry you through to the future.


John Melbye, DDPP, DDLP, CSCP

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