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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

David Simchi-Levi Videocast Addresses LGO Partner Dell's Supply Chain Transformation

Last week, LGO Co-Director David Simchi-Levi featured in a videocast on Dell's Supply Chain Transformation. Along with the editor of Supply Chain Digest and Dell Vice President for Global Supply Chain and Operations Annette Clayton, Prof. Simchi-Levi provided insights on the work he has done with Dell as part of their partnership with the LGO program. These include the need to consider multiple supply chains to match each unique customer value proposition, and to ensure that any such multi-pronged approach ensure complementary qualities rather than simply multiplying costs and complexity.

You can view the archived videocast.

On April 20 at 11:30AM ET, Prof. Simchi-Levi will offer another videocast through Supply Chain Digest. The next broadcast will be based on his book "Operations Rules: Delivering Customer Value through Flexible Operations" and will be titled "Mitigating Supply Chain Risk from the Known-Unknown to the Unknown-Unknown."

You may register to view this videocast.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Supply Chain Excellence: Cisco Strives for Ritz-Carlton Customer Experience

How can Cisco transform its engagement with customers so they feel more like Ritz-Carlton guests as opposed to anonymous recipients of router boxes? This was the challenge raised by Angel Mendez, Cisco’s Senior Vice President of Customer Value Chain Management, in his Global Operations Leadership seminar for LGO on March 2, 2011.

Mendez’s talk framed Cisco as a $40B, 100,000-employee company at an inflection point faced by several companies in the past, not all of which succeeded in continuing their growth. In the current environment, Mendez argued, supply chain excellence needed to contribute more than ever to engaging customers and creating competitive differentiation. For the LGOs looking ahead to operational leadership roles, this means their careers will have a higher profile, be more essential to corporate strategies, and also face more volatility and risk.

In his six years at Cisco, Mendez has led the evolution of its supply chain organization through various phases, culminating in its recent renaming as Customer Value Chain Management. Mendez said his challenge was to effect a culture change within Cisco in order to emphasize customer-centric measures of success. Interestingly, he gave the example of Ritz-Carlton’s very effective customer relations practices as a benchmark his team is using as they move forward on this path. A specific example of how this focus has changed Cisco is their move from traditional success metrics focused on quality/volume shipped, to those based in “perfect” customer experiences: from perfect product launches to perfect end-of-product-life experiences.

A few of the LGO students were skeptical that Cisco could generate positive emotional engagement around something as mundane as a router. After all, either it works and you don’t notice it, or it doesn’t and you’re furious. Mendez’s response was twofold: first, the whole world depends on ubiquitous connectivity these days, and from his teenage daughter to the CEO of AT&T, many people now do indeed see their internet connection in emotional terms. Secondly, Cisco’s entry into more consumer-focused markets with the Flip camera and new ├╝mi telepresence equipment has moved them into product lines explicitly tied to enabling personal connections and relationships.

Mendez closed by reiterating Cisco’s support for LGO as a key supply chain of operations leaders—including two from the Class of 2011 who will join Cisco this summer—and said he looked forward to greater engagement with the program through their Boxborough campus team or, naturally, by telepresence.

Friday, March 4, 2011

LGO Buzzes with Engineering and Business Internship Activities

By Ted Equi

Each year during the final week of Inter-term Activities Period (IAP) the LGO community comes together to experience both ends of the LGO Internship life-cycle. The week began with the start of Internship Fest at an Open Company reception for the LGO partners sponsoring business internship projects for the LGO12 class, providing an opportunity for the students and company representatives to meet to discuss the company culture and specifics of the business internship projects being offered. The reception was followed by Internship Fest -- three full days of interviews. Thirty-six teams of company representatives interviewed the forty students who are looking for on-cycle business internships from the 53 company-sponsored projects, with an average of 16 interviews completed by each student. Internship Fest is often a mini reunion as many of the company representatives are LGO alumni now in leadership positions at partner companies.

Ben Wheeler, LGO '11, discussing his research

The capstone for the week was the LGO11 Knowledge Review, with three sessions held over a day and a half. The LGO11 students returned to campus to attend their final semester of classes and to write their theses based on their business internship. Forty-seven students presented the results of their six-month business internships as well as the opportunities for future research. Each year Knowledge Review brings together students, faculty, and company supervisors to exchange knowledge across all companies and industries highlighting how the students’ projects provide insights and approaches that could be utilized beyond a specific business internship project or company. One industry attendee commented, “I found a solution to a problem that I have wanted to solve for years and gained significant insights talking with the student at her poster.” Knowledge Review features a wide diversity of projects and industries. Topic areas included: process and product development, forecasting and capacity planning, supply chain and inventory optimization, and lean implementation for shop floors and supply chains. Industries included high tech, consumer goods, biotech and pharmaceuticals, aerospace, defense, retail, automotive, and health care.

Tye Duncan, LGO '11, sharing her research with Lou Grillon, LGO '12

The event also brings together multiple LGO classes. The LGO12 class attended Knowledge Review and learned more about the company culture and projects based on the first-hand experience of the LGO11 students. In addition, prospective LGO13 students who were on campus doing admission interviews had an opportunity to attend the final session and interact with the full LGO community of company representatives, MIT faculty, and both LGO classes. Internship Fest, Interview Fest and Knowledge Review have the start of 2011 buzzing with activity.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

China LGO Program: Getting to Know the Faces of Global Operations

By Josh Jacobs, LGO Director of Operations and Partner Integration

The China Leaders for Global Operations (CLGO) program was established at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2007 on the MIT LGO model, driven by a need to increase the numbers of rising Chinese managers available to LGO’s partner companies operating in China, and as a collaboration platform to enable LGO students and faculty to engage with the Chinese manufacturing environment. In January I made my first trip to Shanghai as part of the MIT review committee’s annual meeting with CLGO stakeholders. The discussions with students, alumni, faculty, company representative and SJTU leaders gave a rich context to my visit, helping me to get a sense of the underlying economic issues driving Shanghai’s explosive growth and the opportunities that LGO partners see in China.

LU Jiasi, CLGO ’10; Prof. Jessie CHEN, CLGO Program Director; Ryan Blanchette, LGO ’98; Josh Jacobs, LGO Director of Operations and Partner Integration; Jeff Shao, LGO Finance Manager and CLGO Administrator; HUANG Chenbin, CLGO ‘10

The review committee, led by Prof. Tom Allen of the Sloan School and including other MIT faculty including Yasheng Huang, Georgia Perakis, and Dick Yue, found significant steps forward taking place for the China LGO program. Just a few weeks before, BusinessWeek China had specifically cited CLGO and its connection to MIT as a key factor in the SJTU Antai business school’s success. Antai’s Dean, Lin ZHOU, is a former Princeton academic who has embraced CLGO as a strategic priority for his school, as part of SJTU’s overall emphasis on global engagement. In the hiring success of the CLGO Class of 2011, we saw the program succeeding in its mission of connecting Chinese talents with international manufacturing and operations concerns located in China.

The committee met with some 2010 graduates of the program, one of whose stories really demonstrated for me the globalized nature of manufacturing in China. Wenli LE is working for a Brazilian-Belgian-American joint venture, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and is responsible for sourcing the supply chain for Budweiser beer production in China. As part of her challenge in brewing this iconic American brand, she said she works with suppliers ranging from national companies to smaller operations without email, and arranges shipments by truck, rail, and canal boat. Like many of her classmates, Wenli expressed a desire to work for Chinese companies in the future, particularly as they expand to global operations. But for now, she says that working for an international company’s operations in China is the best experience she can get to advance her career.

Wenli Le, CLGO '08

After the conclusion of the formal review sessions, a special event was held to celebrate the launch of the CLGO alumni group. Featuring a keynote address by Yasheng Huang on the differences between entrepreneurship in China and India, this event also included a talk by Ryan Blanchette, LGO ’98, on the powerful influence of the LGO network in his life and career since leaving MIT. Ryan was in the final weeks of a multi-year assignment as manager of a TRW braking joint venture in Chonquing, and told the group that all seven of his jobs post-MIT had come from LGO and/or Sloan contacts. Referring to a “positive reinforcing loop” (inspired by his Systems Dynamics course at MIT), Ryan urged the alumni of the CLGO program to create their own network so that they could also benefit from the inflows of energy into their careers, relationships and lives that he and MIT LGO graduates enjoy. I am looking forward to seeing this sort of network develop among the CLGO students and graduates, and between the CLGO and MIT LGO communities, as the China LGO program continues to grow as an important contributor to LGO partners’ operations in China.

To see Ryan Blanchette’s talk, visit the LGO video collection at TechTV:
formerly MIT Leaders for Manufacturing (LFM)