Sun Tzu also says that disorder will result from a General who is "morally weak" and without discipline. Leaders have to set the example. They have to provide vision that is understood, and they must provide supply and demand chain leadership, discipline and training. In all operations it is true that standards lead to habits, habits lead to discipline and with discipline all things are possible. The supply and demand chain leaders must set the standards and then follow them.
"The supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy's strategy." The supreme importance in supply and demand chain management is to have a supply chain strategy that will meet the needs of the customer. Do you have a supply and demand chain strategy? What is it? Do your employees understand it? What are your strategic objectives? What is your supply and demand chain's strategic advantage? Is it quality, responsiveness or customer support? If you are not focusing on what is important to the customer, you are focusing on the wrong things, and it is time to re-evaluate your supply and demand chain strategy.
Therefore, leaders who understand strategy "preside over the destiny of the people and determine the stability or instability" of their organization, according to Sun Tzu. In order to lead a company to new levels of excellence, one must understand the supply and demand chain strategy of the organization and be able to articulate it to the employees in such a way that they fully understand it also.
"Know your enemy, know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril." To be invincible, according to Sun Tzu, you must know yourself (or your supply chain) and must assess your company's supply and demand chain and your competition's supply and demand chain in the following five areas:
1. The Way this is the vision and clearly stated mission that was spoken of earlier in the article.
2. The Weather In business, this refers to uncontrollable variables. If your plan and vision incorporates contingency planning, you will be prepared to take advantage of such uncontrollable variables as the economy, the growth phases of a company or product, and the acceptance of a new product.
3. The Terrain You have to consider the business terrain in which you are operating. Proper planning and knowing yourself will enable you to avoid these terrains and/or use them to your advantage.
4. The Leadership this is covered in the section titled "Supply Chain Leadership."
5. The Discipline remember, with discipline all things are possible.
So, what is the best way to know your company's supply chain? In my experience, the best way to see and know a supply and demand chain is through the use of detailed process maps or flow charts. The only way to develop an accurate flow chart of your processes is to get out of the "swivel chair" and physically walk the process. Take the action from the beginning until the end. In the Army we charted the actions necessary to go from a soldier ordering an item of supply through the supply and demand chain until the item of supply was received and used by the soldier.
While walking the process it is important to ask, "Why?" The rule of thumb is that by the fifth "Why?" you will discover the root cause of the problem. While asking "Why?" it is also important to document the actions and results of every process in the chain and the time necessary to accomplish the actions. Be sure to look for actions that are non-value added, so they can be removed from the process.
"Speed is the essence of warfare." Unarguably, speed is also the essence of supply and demand chain management. Speed in supply chains can take the form of faster cycle times, faster customer order times, faster customer response times, faster time to market or even a faster escape out of a non-profitable market. The key is that "speed" must not be confused with "hastily done." An efficient supply and demand chain is dependent on accurate information and, in the end, should allow your company to reduce piles of supplies.
And remember: sometimes "faster" is not necessarily faster. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Patriot Air Defense folks decided they could get parts "faster" by calling back to their "sources" in the United States rather than depending on the established distribution system. They arranged for shipment of their parts on the next available premium delivery service airplane coming from the United States to Kuwait, an option that they believed would have their parts in country "five hours earlier" than could the distribution system I set up.