Pond RipplesWelcome to “Supply Chain Ripples”, the official blog site for Jade Trillium Consulting.  I know you are sitting there wondering why that name.  It is because I think it represents my philosophy about supply chain and process analysis.  I am a firm believer that all processes must “flow” smoothly, both through the process and at the interfaces between processes.  If this smooth flow does not continue through the entire supply chain then “ripples” start to appear in the flow just as ripples appear in a stream when rocks get too close to the surface.  These ripples in the supply chain flow will negatively affect the effectiveness of the processes involved.  It is by studying where and how these ripples occur that we can identify weaknesses in the process designs and how to improve them.

Obviously the ripples I have been referring to are those created by poor process design.  There is a second type of ripple that I also refer to quite regularly – the self-made type.  If you think of a pond, it is still water and therefore has no ripples.  Now, what happens if you toss a rock into the pond?  Ripples.  Unfortunately, in most organizations there is not just one rock being tossed in but instead you find the equivalent of handfuls of gravel being thrown in.  This causes many different ripples from each individual stone hitting the water.  All these ripples going in every direction and running over each other tend to hide the individual causes of the issues and make it very difficult to understand what is happening.  (In the military this is called the “fog of war”, the inability to clearly understand what is happening because there is so many issues that people cannot sort and react in the proper order.)  Similarly, in any organization the institutional equivalent of throwing rocks in the water creates an interference pattern that makes it difficult to find and fix the causes of the issues.  But it is only by understanding and minimizing these ripples that we can run a truly effective organization.

If you think about these analogies and how they can be applied to an organization you will understand why I believe that Ripples represent my supply chain and process analysis philosophy.  Given that as a starting point, I doubt anyone will be surprised going forward if I emphasis such tools as Lean, Theory of Constraints, Root Cause Analysis and effective corporate culture.  In order to improve a process we must first understand what the process is designed to do and what is it actually doing.  I look forward to sharing some of my thoughts on this and hope this will lead to people thinking, discussing and implementing some of the points that I write about.

Feel free to comment on or forward any of these posts to friends and co-workers.

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