Preview Thursday: Total Value Optimization

The following excerpt is from the Introduction of Total Value Optimization: Transforming Your Global Supply Chain Into a Competitive Weapon by Steven J. Bowen. 

Your supply chain is the backbone of your company. Its performance determines the health of your daily operations and the long-term success of your enterprise.

Like a backbone, your supply chain is a complex mechanism. A lot can go right with it, and a lot can go wrong. When it’s at its best, it can support the activities of a thriving, healthy business. When something’s wrong, the pain can be acute—even bad enough to keep the company on the floor, unable to get up.

When a company is in pain, making a diagnosis can be difficult for someone who isn’t experienced. At first glance, your supply chain may even appear to be acceptably healthy. With no obvious signs of disease, it may be tempting for the CEO or equity partner to think, “Well, the pain is mild and we’re managing through it, so let’s do the best we can and strive for improvement.” Time and time again, I’ve seen leaders who take this attitude end up on the floor with a backache that won’t quit, or a migraine that seems to come out of nowhere.

Whether your supply chain is causing pain right now or if things seem to be okay, perhaps even reasonably good, in today’s extremely fast-changing environment the reality is that just about every company in every industry can benefit or create real competitive advantage from having their supply chain optimized.

I use the word “optimized” deliberately. “Optimize” doesn’t mean only “cure” or “fix.” The dictionary defines “optimize” as a transitive verb meaning “to make as perfect, effective, or functional as possible.” While this can mean fixing problems, it can also mean taking a seemingly acceptable supply chain and making it stronger and more resilient, able to carry heavier loads. It becomes an asset rather than a liability—or, as we say, it becomes the ultimate competitive weapon.

That’s exactly what you need to do with your supply chain—optimize it. My new book, Total Value Optimization, takes you step-by-step through the optimization process and shows you the key interventions that will take your company to the next level and make a measurable difference to your bottom line.

Steven J. Bowen is the Chairman and CEO of Maine Pointe, a firm specializing in driving EBITDA and cash improvements across the areas of procurement, operations, and logistics to enable growth. Bowen has more than thirty years of P&L experience, leading turnarounds, high-growth businesses, and Fortune 1000 companies. With strong credentials in advising CEOs and private equity partners and an exceptional track record in lean and demand-pull global environments, his firm is a leader in sustainable global supply chain transformation. Based on his work in the industry, Bowen turned his experience with supply chains into a handbook for corporate leaders.