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This content is taken from the The University of Warwick's online course, Supply Chains in Practice: How Things Get to You. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 9 secondsHi. I'm Jan Godsell. I'm professor of Operations and Supply Chain Strategy at WMG, the University of Warwick. I'm a little bit unusual in that I've spent half my career in industry and half in academia. And what really gets me out of bed in the morning is thinking about, how can we make a difference to the way that things get to you, to the world of supply chains? The motivation behind this MOOC, The Supply Chain in Practise - How Things Get to You, was to try to make this somewhat invisible world of supply chains a little bit more visible.

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 secondsBecause if you were to imagine a world without water, without food, without education, without clothes, then you would be imagining a world without supply chains. Everybody touches supply chains every day of their lives, whether that's professionally or personally. The idea of this MOOC is to make that slightly invisible world of supply chains more visible and transparent so that, at the end of the MOOC, what we hope that you will be able to do is look at supply chains differently and perhaps make different supply-chain choices. Professionally, supply chains have a natural structure. It's captured in a rather technical-sounding Supply Chains Operations Reference Model.

Skip to 1 minute and 24 secondsWhat we want to do is to take that model and break it down into some bite-sized chunks that are easy for everybody to understand. So week 1, the Tip of the Iceberg, explores what supply chains are before, week 2, we look at the global orchestra, the way that supply chains are used to balance demand and supply. Week 3 takes us shopping - Shop Till You Drop - as we look at what's the strategic role of procurement and purchasing in our everyday lives. Week 4 moves on to look at the future of manufacturing, something that's been critical to the way that we've evolved in terms of the Industrial Revolution, and something that's moving on now into this new cyber-physical age.

Skip to 2 minutes and 7 secondsWeek 5 is all about "move it, move it", logistics and transportation, whilst week 6 looks at perhaps a different way that we need to look at our lives, and rather than just taking stuff, using stuff, and dumping it at the end of its life, we actually look at this idea of moving into a more circular economy. The whole idea and purpose of this MOOC is to make this invisible world more visible to you so that you start to think about the decisions that you make every day of your life slightly differently. It's therefore really important that we try to engage you in the MOOC through discussions and debate.

Skip to 2 minutes and 43 secondsAnd actually we have some rather more interesting ways to engage you, and you'll find out more about the Cohort challenge. As with many things in life, you get out of it what you put in, and the same will apply to the Supply Chains in Practise MOOC. We really hope that you engage with the discussions, that you contribute to the exercises, and, at the end of the day, when you finish the MOOC, you decide to do one thing differently to impact the supply chains around you.

Welcome to the course

Welcome to our course - Supply chains in practice: how things get to you.

Supply chains are all around us yet are largely invisible. They tend to be something that we take for granted until something goes wrong. This means that we can make decisions that unknowingly have a huge impact, either positive or negative, on other people in the chain. By raising awareness of the supply chain we hope that you will begin to look at the world around you differently, and potentially make more informed decisions. It is a vast topic and we hope that by relating it to everyday objects and decisions we can introduce you to the world of supply chains, which just like icebergs are largely invisible.

How is the course structured?

This is a six week course which is structured in a way to allow you to explore not only the general concept of supply chain (week 1), but the core processes that underpin it. As part of our lives we need to make decisions regarding all aspects of the supply chain. These decisions relate to the things we buy (Week 3), how they are made (Week 4), how they are moved (Week 5) and how at the end of life we choose to deal with them (Week 6). Making decisions requires a degree of foresight or planning. As you will discover planning is the glue that holds the supply chain together and is the focus for Week 2.

What will learners be able to do differently at the end of the course?

The ethos behind this course is to encourage learners to see the world around them through the lens of the supply chain. In doing so we hope that you might be more mindful of the supply chain implications of the everyday decisions that you make.

How would we like learners to engage?

As you will discover the concept of supply chains is more ambiguous than you may think. Content is provided in a range of formats to spark debate. Please do engage in the discussions and don’t feel afraid to share your views. There are no right answers. This is a two-way process and we are very interested to hear your views and join in the conversation.

Following the course

Leading you through the next six weeks will be a team from WMG, University of Warwick:

Throughout the course you will also encounter, in the comments and discussion areas, PhD students from WMG who will answer your queries and help us keep the comments on track and on topic. Their comments will be flagged with the title ‘Mentor’ next to their name, so you know how to spot them. These are:

Learn at your own pace

At the start of each week, we’ll send you a short email to introduce the week’s topic. You should learn at your own pace, but we encourage you to join the conversations happening in the current week if you can. If you haven’t completed the course by the end of the final week, don’t worry, the course materials will remain open for a further two weeks. You can upgrade your access which will unlock the course materials for an unlimited duration.

Comments and discussions

Learning from each other, through the comments and discussions steps, is an important part of the FutureLearn approach. You will learn from others’ comments and have the ability to respond with your own thoughts and experiences. Some steps there will be a more structured discussion. If you find a comment which was really useful or interesting, click the Like button!

Don’t forget, whilst robust debate is encouraged, it’s important that you follow the FutureLearn Code of Conduct and please be respectful to your fellow learners.

Ready to begin?

When you’ve finished reading this and other steps on the course click the pink ‘Mark as Complete’ button (below) and then click the link below this to move on. Marking steps as complete will update your progress page and will help you to keep track of the steps that you’ve done on the ‘To Do’ list.

We really hope you enjoy the course as much as we have enjoyed putting it together and we very much look forward to hearing from you over the coming weeks.

Get extra benefits, upgrade your course

You can now get extra benefits by upgrading this course, including:

  • Unlimited access to the course: Go at your own pace with unlimited access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn.
  • Access to tests: Ensure you’ve mastered the material with access to tests on the course.
  • A Statement of Participation: To help you demonstrate your learning we’ll send you a Statement of Participation when you become eligible.

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This video is from the free online course:

Supply Chains in Practice: How Things Get to You

The University of Warwick