Recently I made a mistake.
I make lots of mistakes. I forget to back up files for months at a time. I use words around strangers that aren't meant to be used in polite company. Sometimes I even run on an assumption that I have not verified to be true or untrue.
Such is the case with Supply Chain Management. One would think that a person in an MBA program would at least take the time to look up the term to see what it refers to. Not this guy. Nope, not me. I took the middle school approach and waited for someone to define Supply Chain Management for me. In class. Three months after acceptance into the MBA program ...
Fortunately, Supply Chain Management was explained to me by Dr. David Dobrzykowski (pronounced dough-ber-kow-ski,) formerly of Rutgers University, and now a member of the University of Arkansas faculty. Dr. Dobrzykowski explained Supply Chain Management as (and I'm paraphrasing here) "... the integration of key business processes from the end user through suppliers." As he continued his introduction to his course on Supply Chain Management (SCMT), I realized that what I would have considered "Business Operations" falls within the realm of SCMT.
One of our first readings was an article published in Industrial Marketing Management by Douglas M. Lambert and Martha C. Cooper at the turn of the century, the year 2000. Titled "Issues in Supply Chain Management", Lambert and Cooper present Supply Chain Management within a framework derived from case studies. They begin their discussion by making the reader aware that business will not (for the foreseeable future) be conducted as usual.
"One of the most significant paradigm shifts of modern business management is that individual businesses no longer compete as solely autonomous entities, but rather as supply chains."
This article discusses the early history of SCMT as a theory to include the initial definition of SCMT set forth by the Global Supply Chain Forum. The distinction between Logistics and SCMT is iterated, with reference to a modified definition of logistics put forth by the Council of Logistics Management in 1998:
"Logistics is that part of the supply chain process that plans, implements, and controls the efficient, effective flow and storage of goods, services and related information from the point-of-origin to the point-of-consumption in order to meet customers' requirements."
Lambert and Cooper then begin to define SCMT (in detail) within a framework consisting of three elements or tiers: the network structure, the business processes, and the management components. Although the rest of the article is an interesting read, I will not go into further details on their findings here.
The key takeaway from this whole experience for me revolves around making mistakes. We all make mistakes every day. Some of them are trifling, and bear little consequence on the rest of our lives. Other mistakes can be catastrophic to careers, relationships, and even our existence.
In this case, failing to take twenty seconds out of my day to look up what Supply Chain Management actually refers to - instead of acquiescing to a preconceived notion, and waiting to see if the academic definition of the term were the same - hasn't ruined my career potential. However, I was reminded that making a mistake provides an opportunity to reflect on the reasons why the mistake was made, a means to take corrective action, and a chance to develop your skills in an area that needs improvement.