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In: Business and Management

Submitted By mjes09
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Want to Innovate?
The supply chain discipline is replete with rules that most managers live by. But in certain cases, true innovation and breakthroughs come only when those conventional rules are broken. By clearly understanding the nature of the rules and the details of your supply chain, you can better determine where and when rule-breaking makes sense.
By Robert Sabath and Richard Sherman

Robert Sabath and Richard Sherman are Supply Chain Discipline Experts at Trissential, a management consultancy focused on business improvement. They can be reached at and


rom college courses to on-the-job training to professional seminars, we’re taught that supply chain is a complex set of processes that follows specific rules to achieve the best results. Yet most supply chain innovations and breakthroughs evolve from situations where the basic rules were actually broken or changed. Is there a disconnect? Breaking the rules has to do with knowing when it’s beneficial to make an exception to accepted practice or to challenge the conventional answer. It entails scanning the horizon for new technologies, best practices, or approaches that change the paradigm of how we do things. Winning companies often excel because they saw a situation differently and were willing to take the risk and the initiative to break with the accepted logic. Innovation is all about breaking the rules. If you don’t look outside the box, you will become imprisoned inside it. The challenge for management is first to create a culture that looks outside the box. Once that’s in place, supply chain executives can identify which rules should be broken or challenged and how; when the timing is right; what specific actions need to be taken; what are the economics and operating levers; and how...

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