Supply Chain Saves the Enterprise

By Jim Tompkins

Here we are in October, moving quickly toward 2010 with hopes and thoughts of economic recovery. So where is this "Great Comeback" that I've been talking about? A good question to which I have an equally good answer.

Before you start throwing rotten tomatoes (or worse) at me, let me say that it is happening — we're on the steep uphill climb, although it may seem hard to believe with the dismal unemployment figures and projections just released. It is a bitter pill to swallow at this point in the recovery process.

We can choose to focus on the negative or the positive, and in the supply chain consulting process with clients and with others, I focus on this message. To keep your company and your supply chain healthy and growing on a global scale, it is clear that the best option is to remain focused on the positive.

Consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of total economic activity, increased in August by the largest amount in nearly eight years. Manufacturing expanded for the second straight month in September, and construction also inched up a notch. Sales of existing homes also showed a gain, rising 6.4 percent in August. Additionally, corporate profits are beginning to move in the right direction. And the latest Business Roundtable survey of top U.S. chief executives revealed that although they are not ready to hire more staff or increase capital spending, the majority expect their sales to rise over the next six months.

Do these figures signal a quick, robust recovery? No, but they do prove that we are on the uphill climb. The one thing that company leaders absolutely must remember at this stage is that lead changes always occur on the uphill. Always. This is the case in great races such as the Tour de France and in the business world and life in general.

Developing a Great Comeback Plan now, while we are on the uphill, ensures that organizations not only survive the recession but also grow and return even stronger once the race is finished. If you make the climb uphill clutching a solid Comeback Plan, I guarantee that you will pass the competition and live to tell the story of how your organization made it through and grew stronger by focusing on the positive and planning during the recovery phase.

About the Author: Jim Tompkins is the president and CEO of Tompkins Associates. He has written or contributed to more than 30 books, including his latest, Caught Between the Tiger and the Dragon, a business novel exploring the ups and downs of business interactions with China and being under the thumb of a private equity company. He blogs at http://gogogosupplychain.tompkinsinc.com/.

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