In a blog post from earlier this week, I shared some constructive criticism of one of the workshops at this year’s International Supply Management Conference. Fortunately, the entire conference was not like that particular workshop.

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To be fair and balanced, I will dedicate this post to discussing what I felt was the best part of the conference. On Monday, I attended a workshop entitled “Strengthening Your Supply Chain Through Risk Management Processes,” presented by Cathy Herr, the Senior Director of Global Strategic Sourcing for Eli Lilly & Company, and Richard Rich, the Senior Administrator of Enterprise Risk Management for Seminole Electric Coop, Inc.

Their workshop started with descriptions of how to identify, prioritize, and plan for risk events in the supply chain. This material was similar to what Next Level Purchasing teaches in our online classes “14 Purchasing Best Practices” and “Professional Purchasing Project Management.”

What I found most interesting, however, is a lesson learned shared by Ms. Herr. She said that, after the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan, her company allowed some space to its suppliers instead of reaching out and contacting them right away. They took this approach to respect the human side of their suppliers’ people, who would certainly have higher priorities concerning the safety and well-being of their families.

But Ms. Herr admitted, in retrospect, that this was the wrong approach. Japanese cultural differences dictate that it would have been more appropriate to reach out sooner to check on the suppliers’ personnel. Not to discuss business, just to show human concern.

I think that this was a profound point. Factoring cultural differences into a response plan is not usually part of the traditional contingency planning process. But Ms. Herr illuminated the fact that it should be.

With the sharing of this real-life learning experience and Ms. Herr’s exemplary presentation skills, this workshop was my choice for the highlight of the conference.

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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