Wednesday, 20 August 2014

'The Value Chain Shift: Seven future challenges facing top executives' - Book review

The sub-title of this book is really the important point to consider with this book - it is targeted at 'top executives'. An impressive list of contributors set out to answer the 'seven challenges' against a timeline of 2020.

So what are the seven 'future' challenges identified?

  1. Measuring corporations' cost and contribution to society; 
  2. Managing resource scarcities; Scale and speed; 
  3. Traditional multinationals versus emerging market firms; 
  4. Optimising IT-enabled process and systems in the value chain: 
  5. The role of governance; The organisation design shift; 
  6. How speed affects risks, opportunities and new business models in the value chain; 
  7. Corporate social responsibility: Moving from compliance to value creation in value chain relationships. 

Are these really future challenges, and if they are, are they the biggest challenges? Actually I recall some of them being included in Farmer and Taylor's 'Corporate Planning and Procurement' published in 1975, yes, 39 years ago! More recently we could compare New and Westbrook's (2004) 'Understanding Supply Chains', and Brindley's (2004) 'Supply Chain Risk'. So I would have liked to have heard the authors views on what they would put as a compelling argument, to the sceptical top executive on: "if these challenges have been around so long, and a laissez-faire approach has worked so far, what's so different?"

Setting that aside, let's consider some of the chapters. Say the chapter on IT. While I recognise the problems of geographic standardisation of processes and systems, and am currently working on a similar problem, I am really surprised that the whole digital agenda with the imbalance between marketing's adoption and that of the supply chain isn't viewed as a challenge.

I did, however, find the chapter on 'optimal speed' thought provoking and something I hadn't previously considered.

Sadly, I found many of the chapters more like an introduction and lacking in depth - I wanted more.  
You could classify them into three categories: 'A statement of the blindingly obvious', 'We wanted to create a model, so we created a need', and the really valuable, 'Have you thought about this?'.

In fairness, let's remember the book is targeted at top executives. If the book is read by top executives and they progress to addressing the challenges, then it will be really beneficial, but for me, and the average procurement specialist, I doubt it is worth £22.15?

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