Archives for posts with tag: Supply Chain

Chains are an interesting way of explaining business or biological processes that connect players in a particular ecosystem.

The supply chain and value chain are handy ways to explain what happens either side of the manufacturing and creative process. The food chain is not so much a chain as a loop from contributors to consumers who in turn become contributors to start the cycle again.

The use chain – I don’t know if that exists as a term, but if it doesn’t I’m coining it now – is an interesting one. At some point somebody acquires something, uses it and passes it onto someone else to use, or else re-uses it themselves – re-consumes it if you like. The product or service doesn’t change materially between one user and the next, or one use and the next. There is no additional value or additional commercial benefit built in to the second or more use. Re-using something is the enemy of commerce, but friend to the consumer and the environment. In a responsible and societally aware culture, if we can’t re-use something then we can recycle it, or reduce it to minimise the impact of its having ceased to be useful or consumable to us.

If we could figure out a way of enabling a win-win for the use chain, the planet might have half a chance.

In any type of business, the general idea is that you pay a supplier for something which you then make better, pass on or add to, in order to be able to sell on to someone else at a profit. This is true when you make and sell products. When you’re in the services business, your suppliers are generally your staff, or perhaps contractors, so it’s a little different.

One of the things I mentioned in my very first post was that we’re generally focused on our customers, but hardly ever our suppliers. We fawn over our customers, treat them like royalty, we’ll do anything for them. Our suppliers? Well, we treat them less well, we hammer them down to improve our margins, we give them the runaround when we have to. After all, they’re our suppliers, right? They’re lower down the food chain than us, or the supply chain at least.

Here’s a question for you: when was the last time you gave your best supplier an award? You put them on a pedestal and made them your supplier of the year, amid much fanfare? I remember listening to a presentation over 20 years ago from a much admired member of the graphic design community, long since dead, who talked about how his company was made a supplier of the year and how it caused him to totally rethink his own relationship with his suppliers.

Remember that your supply chain is often where you can get the early intelligence on emerging trends in your industry, so your suppliers can often become the source of your competitive advantage. Treat your suppliers well, treat them like partners, and good things will happen to you. Amplify and celebrate your best suppliers. They deserve it, they’ll thank you for it and it will serve you well in the long run.