Skip to 0 minutes and 9 secondsSTEVEN DAY: Hello, dear learners. Welcome to the first week's roundup. My name is Steven Day. I was your mentor for this week, and I'm here with Professor Janet Godsell, our lead educator. How are you doing, Jan?

Skip to 0 minutes and 20 secondsJAN GODSELL: Hey, Stephen. I'm very good. Yourself?

Skip to 0 minutes and 23 secondsSTEVEN DAY: I'm well, too. Thank you. So what struck you about the first week's discussion?

Skip to 0 minutes and 28 secondsJAN GODSELL: So this week we covered three different topics, really. We've looked at how we define the supply chain, we've looked at the importance of the supply chain, and we've looked at the role that supply chains play in society. I thought it was a great week. I really enjoyed some of the discussions in block 1 around defining the supply chain. We seem to have had a range of different views here. So one of the questions we asked was whether or not it actually mattered that we had a common definition of supply chain. And there was some really quite thoughtful debate, but I still think we ended up with two camps.

Skip to 1 minute and 5 secondsThose that thought that it mattered, and that actually it's very, very difficult to get people to understand something unless there's a common understanding. And people that actually thought that we can't necessarily define something that has so many different meanings. So perhaps it's more the meaning in use, or how people choose to adapt it that's more important. And I really don't think there's any right answer. From my own experience working with organisations is that, if an organisation wants to undergo a supply chain transformation, then I think it's very, very important that within that organisation they have a common view of what a supply chain is.

Skip to 1 minute and 51 secondsOtherwise it's very, very difficult for them to undergo that transformation, because they haven't got a clear sense of vision of where they're going. However, what exactly is in that definition then I'm relatively relaxed about. It's more about having that common sense of purpose and vision within an organisation. Perhaps as individual consumers, which we all are, I think the important thing-- and this whole week's been about-- is just making the concept of supply chains more visible. And if this debate has done that, then it's met its objective.

Skip to 2 minutes and 27 secondsHowever, Steven-- not meaning to turn the tables on you-- but I saw you started to spark a debate that seemed to be quite interesting around whether supply chain was an art or a science. So have you got any reflections on that?

Skip to 2 minutes and 40 secondsSTEVEN DAY: Yeah, I found it interesting. One of the learners commented that supply chain management is more of an art, and I inquired whether other learners agreed with that. And I thought it was quite interesting, because people basically tried to say that management is more akin to an art than a science. But then you need some scientific principles to do that, so you need some data. You need to collect some data, you need to analyse it. And then as soon as you have that, you need to build it on some kind of scientific principles. And I like that the learners tried to reconcile these two concepts, that management is an art, and management is a science.

Skip to 3 minutes and 20 secondsAnd then, of course, the learners having a background in practise-- usually-- they were very aware of this distinction, but also the need for both. And that comes back to what you said, that actually having a firm definition that works for everybody might not be the most important thing, but reflecting on the process of managing your supply chain by reflecting on what your supply chain looks like. Or even if you're a consumer, what the supply chain looks like that you participate in as the consumer to be informed.

Skip to 3 minutes and 52 secondsJAN GODSELL: No, absolutely. And as you're aware, within our own supply chain research group, we've recently brought in expertise around supply chain analytics and decision making to enable us to really bring together that sort of more operations management and supply chain management. So the arty bit. Which is where perhaps more of my expertise lies, but with that more data driven and scientific bit. And I really do think that as we go forward, the leading businesses are going to be the ones that bring those two perspectives together most effectively.

Skip to 4 minutes and 26 secondsAnd that's why we're seeing-- and actually it's something that learners can see at the end of week two-- that this is why roles such as the supply chain analytics analyst are becoming so popular and so essential. So the second block was about the importance of the supply chain. So here we were looking at-- It was nice to see people engaging with our physical artwork. But also, I think there's particular debate around the role of the supply chain in enabling innovation. And I suppose this began to pull out the trend that we need to actually take more responsibility for the way that we design our products.

Skip to 5 minutes and 9 secondsTo not just take into account their forward facing supply chain, but also start building things that actually help support a more circular economy, so that we can start to think about what we do at end of life. Not just in terms of recycling, but whether or not they can go on to a second life to be repaired to be reused. Now that's not the topic for this week, but it sowed the seeds nicely for week six, which goes into that in much more detail.

Skip to 5 minutes and 38 secondsAnd I think it was also quite interesting that some people commented on our articles around the tennis ball, and our Bridget Jones pants-- around just that complexity and global nature of many supply chains, even for very, very simple products. And I suppose again that's something that we wanted to draw out, because I think people can take for granted an everyday thing like a pen here. But you'd be absolutely surprised about the number of miles, the number of steps, the amount of technology that actually goes into producing that pen. And therefore sometimes-- and I suppose this brings us on to our third block around supply chains and society. Are we really paying the true price for some of our products?

Skip to 6 minutes and 26 secondsAre we ensuring a fair return for all? Can things be just too cheap, which means at some point in that supply chain we've got some form of exploitation? And it was quite interesting to see the debate about that, because I think there were some views-- and maybe part of the role of this MOOC is to get people to think about things differently. But actually there's that concern, me as one consumer choosing to buy in a different way, can that really make a difference? And I can understand that perspective. But I would actually say if slowly but slowly individuals start making different purchasing decisions, then before long, you have many people making a different purchasing decision.

Skip to 7 minutes and 11 secondsAnd it changes the way we think about it. And I think it was last year or the year before, here in the UK, it was unearthed that a very large coffee retailer wasn't paying very much tax in the UK. And when consumers started voting with their feet and not purchasing coffee from that particular retailer-- not that I think paying tax should be optional-- but they suddenly decided that actually it would be better for their business to start paying tax in the country where they were actually selling their product. So we can have a silent revolution. And maybe supply chains are one of those areas where that silent revolution can take hold.

Skip to 7 minutes and 52 secondsSTEVEN DAY: Yeah, and I think especially supply chains are well suited to adjust to different consumer behaviour. They don't exist out of principle. They shift their behaviour and their structure depending on what the consumers want, so we as consumers can have a lot of power over them. Because they don't emerge out of nothing, they emerge to fulfil our needs. So if our needs change, if our behaviour changes, then they will adjust to that. They will have to.

Skip to 8 minutes and 23 secondsJAN GODSELL: I think we are entering an age much more about consumption driven supply chains. And actually I think there's more recognition that supply chains do start with a consumer. And it will be interesting to see over time how supply chains reconfigure as a result of that.

Skip to 8 minutes and 38 secondsSTEVEN DAY: Yeah. Do you have anything to add to that?

Skip to 8 minutes and 42 secondsJAN GODSELL: No, just that it was an excellent first week. I would like to thank all of the learners for their very active participation. This is what makes the course so special. It's not just about the formal learning, it's about the peer-to-peer learning and the conversations that we develop. So I just thank everyone for their brilliant participation in week one. To encourage everyone to share their stories via the MyChainReaction website if they haven't done so already. And also to use the great new tool that we're using, Padlet, to start constructing those supply chains for coffee and mobile phones, et cetera.

Skip to 9 minutes and 19 secondsBecause it'll be really interesting with such a diverse range of learners from around the world to see how we can build those maps up. So just a great first week, keep participating, and I look forward to seeing everyone next week when we're going to be looking at the global orchestra.

Skip to 9 minutes and 36 secondsSTEVEN DAY: OK, great. This wraps up the first week then. I thank you, Jan, for this interview. And I'll see you the next time.

Skip to 9 minutes and 45 secondsJAN GODSELL: Yeah, and my thanks to you as well, Steven. Thank you very much.

Week 1 summary

Please return here at the start of Week 2 for the round-up video for Week 1.

Week 1, focused on the topic of ‘Just the tip of the iceberg: What is the supply chain’. Before immersing yourself in the domain of planning, take some time to consolidate your learning from last week by watching the summary video.

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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