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Reminders of Tighter Information Linkages Among Product Management and the B2B Supply Chain


On Sunday, this author flew to Nashville Tennessee to both attend and moderate a panel discussion at the annual Supply Chain World North America and Global Member Meeting 2014 conference sponsored by the Supply Chain Council. Supply Chain Matters will share highlights from that conference in an upcoming commentary. Flying provides the opportunity to catch-up on reading, and for this author, my prior unread issues of The Economist magazine. Two specific articles with a common theme captured my interest and I wanted to share such observations with you in this commentary. At the many industry conferences I get the opportunity to attend, I often hear supply chain leaders speak to accelerated clock-speed of product innovation, and how that can add additional challenges and potential havoc for the end-to-end supply chain, particularly when that supply chain is significantly outsourced. For a supply chain that is primarily supporting product innovation, a major […]

Product Recalls Among Two Automotive OEM’s- Which is the More Significant?


General and business media has provided much amplification of the latest product recall troubles involving General Motors. In the past few weeks GM has recalled upwards of 6.3 million vehicles globally for quality issues related to faulty ignition switches, a sudden loss of electric power-steering assistance and other issues. The incidents have once again raised issues as to why certain automotive manufacturers allow quality conformance issues regarding products to fester until consumers experience the results of such non-conformance, or in some cases suffer personal injury or death. The GM crisis has been billed as the first test of the leadership of newly appointed CEO Mary Barra, who just happens to have a supply chain, product and operations management career background prior to assuming her new top leadership role.  Indeed this latest crisis might have been the legacy handed over from previous GM CEO’s. Given Ms. Barra’s background, Supply Chain Matters […]

General Motors Selects Mary Barra as New CEO

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A significant shoutout is in order regarding today’s announcement on the appointment of Mary Barra as the new CEO of General  Motors.  This appointment represents a milestone of the first senior female executive ever to lead a global automobile manufacturer, and the significance is not unnoticed. The appointment is part of a far-reaching re-organization of GM management and includes the announcement that current CEO Dan Akerson will exit the company next month due to personal reasons. Akerson  advanced his succession plan by several months after his wife was recently diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer. Ms. Barra has spent her entire working career at GM. The daughter of a tool and die maker at the Pontiac division, she starting in 1980 as a co-op student and risen through the ranks in roles in manufacturing, engineering and other leadership positions. Her most senior roles include Vice President of Human Resources […]

A Milestone for the U.S. Automotive Industry and its Supply Ecosystem

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An important milestone for the U.S. automotive industry will occur this month.  The United States Treasury announced that it plans to sell its remaining 31.1 million shares of General Motors stock sometime before the end of the year. The move hopefully represents the final chapter in the 2008-2009 government bailout of General Motors and indeed, the U.S automotive supply chain. According to business media reporting, the U.S. government initially invested $50 billion in GM, and thus far has recouped $38.4 billion of that investment.  The planned final sale could bring in an additional $1.2 billion, based on the current value of GM stock, making the final net cost to taxpayers of $10.4 billion. In addition, asset sales have helped the U.S. government to recoup over $12 billion of the $16 billion invested in GM’s automotive finance arm.  More importantly, the U.S. automotive industry and its associated supply chains have rebounded […]

Another Classic Tale of Non-Alignment Among the Business and the Supply Chain Strategy

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The following posting is this author’s weekly guest commentary on the Supply Chain Expert Community web site. Today’s Wall Street Journal features an article, Detroit’s Unsold Cars Pile Up (paid subscription or free metered preview) regarding the building inventory of unsold cars among the U.S. big-three OEM manufacturers, namely General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.  The premise of the article is that despite brisk levels of auto sales across the U.S., domestic manufacturers have built up some alarming levels of finished goods inventories, akin to the economic downturn three year ago. I call special attention to both supply chain management and sales and operations planning (S&OP) teams to perhaps share awareness of the lessons brought forward since, in my view, it is a classic example of how corporate business strategy and desired business outcome can conflict with the realities of the processes and tools provided to operations and supply chain management.  […]

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