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Counterpoint Podcast

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About the Podcast

Many of the problems we face in organizations are wicked problems. These are unique, chronic problems that seems almost impossible to solve because of their complex and interconnected nature. When you try to address one element of these problems, you may inadvertently cause an issue somewhere else. No wonder they are wicked problems!

It is clear that standard techniques of trying to solve these problems one at a time is not going to cut it. Moreover, with these kinds of problems, very often, clarifying what is the problem is often as big or a bigger task as solving it. However, Theory of Constraints philosophy offers the necessary “thought-ware” to tame such wicked problems.

These podcasts are discussions, interviews, or presentations in which Vectorians, our clients or other experts discuss how the TOC tools and techniques can be used to gain a deeper insight into these problems and help reframe them completely to create breakthrough solutions.

In the first episode, we present to you the ubiquitous Month-End Skew in sales. In distribution companies the usual sales pattern is 10:20:30:40 over the four weeks of a month. This sales pattern is popularly described as the “Hockey Stick” sales syndrome and is accepted as a normal industry phenomenon. It is not often realized that this hockey stick does huge damage in terms of lost sales and prevents faster growth of sales.

In this episode we discuss why this happens and how can we solve for it.

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For more details on this topic, you can check out the article at https://www.vectorconsulting.in/research-publications/consumer-industry-insights/straightening-the-hockey-stick-in-sales-and-distribution/

Most companies try hard to win retailer loyalty through various temporary offers and schemes. However, these standard, time bound, volume-slab wise, schemes do not promote any real loyalty (retailers opportunistically shift between different schemes to secure the best possible deal); these schemes exclude small retailers almost completely (as they cannot pick up enough volume to qualify); and often promotes self-dumping (due to greed to qualify for schemes). Consequent results are disruption of price hygiene in the market and poor ROI for channel partners.

Listen to this podcast to find how firms can truly bond with retailers without any of these issues!

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In the last episode we discussed how to win long-term loyalty of retailers. However, in many product categories there can be other influencers for a purchase- it could be architects/ carpenters for furniture, masons/engineers for construction products, mechanics for automobiles and so on. These influencers can strongly and positively sway the end customers towards a specific brand.

So, as we promised in the last episode, we have come back to discuss how we can nurture a strong bond with these influencers, how such a bond can be competitive edge for the company, and why we claim it cannot be replicated or copied easily by a competitor.

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Try to visualize this - a phone manufactured in China must reach an Indian retailer just before a consumer walks in demanding that make and model. If it arrives too late, it’s a lost sale. If it arrives too early, it adds to the inventory carrying cost of the retailer. Is it possible to ensure that no customer is ever disappointed, while also keeping your retailers happy? If we understand what prevents us from achieving both these objectives, maybe seamless availability of a product can be guaranteed?

In this episode, we take a deep dive precisely into the root cause of this perplexing issue - why do supply chains often fail, despite the numerous people and the cutting edge technologies it has at its disposal?

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In the last episode we did a breakdown of typical supply chain problems and how they are all linked to the practice of manufacturing as per forecasts. In this episode we propose a solution by going back to the basics of inventory management. This simple solution can ensure that the right product is available at the right place at the right time. Then, the company does not have to lose a single customer.

Find out how to implement a simple solution to ensure continuous availability of products in the market so as to not lose a single customer!

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Tune in to find out how we can think clearly and develop breakthrough solutions. Being a physicist Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt adopted the traditions, constructs, and rigor of the hard sciences, when he introduced a set of thinking tools to serve as a framework to raise questions regarding existing paradigms, identify problems in any environment (not necessarily business), converge on to the root cause of these issues and build robust solutions.

By the way, this episode has a small but interesting test that you can apply at your workplace to understand any problem, better.

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If we can identify the problem, we can solve it! However, the challenge with most root cause analysis techniques is that it is difficult to tell if you have reached the real root cause or not, especially since after some layers, data may not be available to observe the causal entity directly. So, most analyses are unknowingly limited to a superficial point! TOC Thinking takes a very different and much deeper approach to reach the core issue involved.

Listen to this episode as a continuation of the first part on Thinking Processes philosophy and learn why a mindset of 'synthesis' is imperative to find the core conflict of a system and to design breakthrough solutions.

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Part 1 to this episode: https://anchor.fm/counterpoint-podcast/episodes/Ep6-TOC-Thinking-Processes-A-toolkit-for-thinking-clearly-Part-1-e139nj9

JIT is a methodology first developed and implemented in the 70's at Toyota Manufacturing Plant. Since then, it has been replicated and implemented across various manufacturing and supply chain companies across the word. All in a bid to keep their operations lean and reduce the failures, delays and cost stuck up in inventory or other resources. However, with uncertainties and high demand variability, due to natural calamities, increasing competition, changing technology and regulatory norms and hence systems like JIT might need to be re-looked at.

This episode on the Counterpoint Podcast is a discussion to explore the shortcomings with JIT and if this methodology still holds relevance in the current conditions or do we need to evolve and move to a better and sustainable solution.

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Find out how to overcome bias in decision making by using the right thought-ware. Bad decisions can have long standing consequences. So, to avoid bias, managers tend to rely on data. Unfortunately, data does not always help differentiate between truth and perception. For instance, two managers might have two different interpretations of the same data; or two opposing views can have fully reliable data supporting them. Sometimes, there is no data at hand. How can managers go beyond data and use a more systematic and rigorous approach to decision making?

This episode is a continuation of the two previous podcasts on Thinking Processes and explains how to use deductive reasoning to avoid common traps in analysing problems and making decisions.

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Many plants are often marred by poor efficiencies, late deliveries, and a perpetual fire-fighting mode. After decades of efforts, most of them have given up on solving these chronic problems. However, there is a way out, an easy one, if one can understand the core conflict.

This episode gives is an understanding of the problems, the core reasons for these problems and solutions which can dramatically improve any manufacturing plant's performance within a very short period of time.

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In the past 3 episodes on the Thinking Processes series, we have discussed how the philosophy goes to the deepest level of a problem at hand, how it builds the logic around it and how it identifies the root cause to take a stab at it. Hence, it makes an extremely helpful tool for anyone, especially managers and leaders. However, it take s some amount of practice to become proficient in using the tool. It has some very easy-to-follow starting steps which can help one get started on the journey of using it.

This episode is dedicated to laying the foundation for starting on a journey to build simple logical constructs of cause and effect. It gets really interesting and extremely exciting from here on.

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Supplier Bullwhip is basically an ill effect of a supply chain practice of OEMs who use a combination of monthly forecasting and daily expediting to manage their assembly lines. The Tier 1, 2 and 3 suppliers are the ones who bear the brunt of it, further upstream the supplier, more severe the effect, which also means that the smallest guy in the chain is the worst hit. But it all does come back to the OEMs too indirectly.

We have either mentioned or discussed the supplier bullwhip effect in many of our previous episodes, especially the ones around the supply chain and operations solutions.

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