This is our fourth posting regarding activities at the 2010 Supply Chain Council Executive Summit held in Houston.   Our final day included just morning sessions affording attendees the opportunity to perform the mad rush to the airport, this author included.

A highlight of day two was a presentation by noted author Dr. Steven Melnyk, Professor, Supply Chain Management at the Eli Broad Graduate School of Management at Michigan State University.  Readers are probably aware that Michigan State is one of the top tier academic institutions with a dedicated academic program focused on supply chain management.

Dr. Melnyk spoke on Outcome-Driven Supply Chains, with a timely message that supply chains should b e viewed as a strategy engine for the business vs. one of pure cost-driven. This is a rather timely message as many organizations continue to navigate their way in the post-recessionary phase.  Dr. Melnyk provided powerful arguments that the supply chain must be strategically coupled, global in capabilities, value-driven and highly adaptive.  He further noted that many companies sometimes lose focus on driving cost avoidance vs. cost-savings. Six major outcomes were indentified, and the primary message was that companies need to blend multiple outcomes in their supply chain strategy.  As an example, outcomes of responsiveness or resiliency coupled with cost avoidance yields a different set of capabilities than a singular focus on cost reduction.

During the question and answer period, I asked Dr. Melnyk whether in his view, companies may have tilted too far towards cost reduction, resulting in some supply chains being either too vulnerable to risk or not prepared to deal with scaling to sudden increased demand.  He concurred.

Finally, I volunteered to be a last minute fill-in on the industry analyst panel providing insights on the status of sourcing in emerging markets. One of the scheduled analysts had a sudden illness and could not attend.  As readers might imagine, preparing at the last minute can be stressful, but I was eager to help out.  I trust that Summit attendees were able to some insights from my observations on global sourcing and deployment strategies across emerging markets.

Our final commentary related to the Summit will include my summary observations and final thoughts collected from all of this year’s sessions.

Bob Ferrari