Dual Supply Chain Now & TECHquila Sunrise Episode
“What the [technology] products do, is less important than what the products mean. When you say, ‘What does Kinaxis mean to the world?’ is a different question than what Kinaxis does.”
-John Sicard, CEO, Kinaxis
In this episode of TECHquila Sunrise powered by Supply Chain Now, host Greg White welcomes Kinaxis CEO John Sicard to the podcast.
Greg White (00:04):
It’s time to wake up to tequila, sunrise, Greg white here. And I have spent my career starting leading, deploying, and investing in supply chain tech. So we take a shot and talk founders, execs investors and companies in this hot industry. If you want a taste of how tech startup growth and investment is done, join me for another blinding tequila sunrise. In this week’s episode, it’s part one of our interview with John [inaudible] CEO of supply chain tech powerhouse Connexus. Let’s give him a,
Greg White (00:42):
Okay, let me introduce John Soccard president and CEO of Connexus. John has been president and CEO since January, 2016, with over 20 years, tenure at Kanaxis a little over 25, actually. And he first started at the company as a key contributor in architecture and development of the supply chain solutions. In 1994, you do the math and has since held a number of senior management roles in development, professional services, business consulting, sales, marketing, and customer support. Prior to his current role, John was chief products, officer overseeing all aspects of the product life cycle and including product, vision, and strategy. And before all of that, John was a software engineer early in his career. So both at Connexus and in previous roles, is that correct? John? That is right. That’s where I started my career. Then. Welcome aboard. Welcome to your first tequila. Sunrise. It’s great having you here.
Greg White (01:50):
Well, not really my first, but maybe by first on camera like this Greg pleasure to be with you. Yeah, likewise. Good to have you. So I’m so glad we were able to put this together a couple of weeks ago, Duncan was on supply chain is boring. And who else did we have on supply chain now? And of course we’ve met with Pauly from Raleigh and Patrick van hall. So we’ve had the whole Connexis team. And of course, for any of our community who don’t know can access is an incredibly important player in supply chain tech, uh, nearly I’m looking at your stock today, a nearly $5 billion valuation company, just making some incredible things. We’ll, we’ll talk about that later and I’ll let you do, because you probably can do it much more justice than I can know. It’s great that you’ve had Duncan if, uh, I mean, Dunkin is essentially the father right here for our company. Yeah. As the, as the founder and now fellow, we still, and him problems that most people don’t understand, you know, how do you even start solving? He typically leans in on those. Wow, That’s such a valuable resource to have the founding fathers, mothers, whatever around, you know, there’s a certain inherent problem solving gift that they have to start something like this to begin with and they just learn more and more as the years go on. And they always have a unique perspective,
John Sicard (03:19):
A hundred percent, a hundred percent.
Greg White (03:21):
So tell us a little bit about you. So tell us a little bit about where you’re from, kind of how you grew up your family a little bit and let, let people get to know you a little bit.
John Sicard (03:30):
Well, I, I, I’m the youngest of three. So last born in a military family, my father was in the Canadian air forces. He was a navigator flew the old CF one hundreds for those who remember that plane and, you know, part of growing up, uh, in a military family as you move around a lot. I mean, I mean, I I’ve lost, counted as to how many homes I lived in. It was, you know, every 18 to 24 months he would come home and say, we’re moving. And we’d ask when he’d say Monday, you know? And, uh, and off we went, so, you know, growing up, I, um, you know, I had to learn how to be, uh, exceptionally resilient and, and open to change cause it could be a middle of the school year and that would happen to us. And so, yeah, I, I grew up in that kind of a lifestyle.
John Sicard (04:18):
I, um, I can tell you that I am, uh, I’m a musician at heart. I’d probably feel most like myself when I’m pounding away on my drum kit to a food fighter song. Um, and the harder I hit them, the better I feel. Uh, and I, I’m also a software engineer and, and those two things are quite, they’re actually quite close. You know, I think software engineering is very artistic endeavor. You know, when I was in school, I got to grade a lot of, as a TA. That’s a great, a lot of homework and pieces of software. And I really realized then how closely connected art, well, music even, and software is you would see lots of different, you know, pieces of software solving the exact same problem, but some were Mozart. Like, and I still remember seeing those and that really inspired me. Uh, I think, you know, to join those two, I think it’s a very creative endeavor. Yeah. So then essentially long story, but I’m essentially a software engineer that fell in love with the craft of supply chain. And, you know, I, you know, you might say in the last 30 years or history, you know, 30 plus years I’ve been involved in, in software companies to serve the craft of supply chain.
Greg White (05:36):
I love that you call it a craft. First of all, I think that’s a really cool way to think about it. And I got to tell you, you’re not the first you’re a drummer, correct? Yes. Not the first drummer to be a supply chain tech person. So I have a friend when I started a company a long time ago, Joe Ranieri at Henry Schein, which is a big, a big medical and veterinary supply company in the States. And they’ve got a Canadian operation as well. He’s a drummer and a supply chain tech. I think he’s still an engineer. I think he’s still doing some engineering and it is amazing how closely those two align,
John Sicard (06:13):
Greg White (06:14):
Art out of rigor is, I mean, you know, there’s only so many notes, but you can make art out of it and it’s not dissimilar with, with coding. So that’s cool.
John Sicard (06:24):
USIC is as old as time. And so is the supply chain, you know, all this time we talked about that, didn’t we? I mean, yes. And that’s another reason why I love it. It’s, it’s been around as long as humanity has been around and it will be with us as long as we’re here, you know? And so music, they’re both really important parts of life. I think.
Greg White (06:43):
So you don’t really have a hometown, I guess, because you’re a military brat, but is there a place that stands out as a favorite or one where you had really good memories?
John Sicard (06:52):
Yeah. Montreal is where we settled and Montreal is important for me. I probably consider that a hometown for me and that that’s where we settled. That’s where I met my wife in 1982. My two boys were born there. Wow. You know, I still have a mother-in-law and some, and some, uh, you know, some other family members that we visit Montreal, it’s not very far away. So I would say that’s the place I consider. It’s also air went to school and you know, I still love it. It’s I think it’s one of North America’s most unique cities.
Greg White (07:28):
Yeah. It is. It’s beautiful. And the smoke meat sandwiches, one of the greatest inventions of all time, in my opinion.
John Sicard (07:34):
Yeah. No doubt. And the poutine. Yeah.
Greg White (07:38):
Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Not good for you, but right, right. How people survive that. Right. And, and how there’s anybody in Montreal? That’s not 380 pounds. I don’t know. Well, you’ve had a ton of experiences, obviously moving around. So is anything jump out at you that really kind of shaped you shaped your worldview or jump-started you in a certain direction or anything like that?
John Sicard (08:00):
You know, I can talk about a pivotal moment where, um, and I didn’t mention this earlier, but when I was a late teen and almost till I was 21, 20 years old, I thought I was going to be a rock drummer and that was going to be my vocation. Well, there was a pivotal moment that I experienced in, um, you know, playing in a bar in Montreal and watching, you know, a drummer that was four years, my junior and a hundred years, you know, better than I was in terms of talent, just an incredible musician at 16, I know in a bar at 16, but it wasn’t 1681. And I realized music was a labor of love. And it still is for me now it’s a huge part of my life, but I pivoted then, and, uh, it was almost quite by accident that I discovered software engineering. My father bought me a book called without me. You’re nothing. It was actually the first software book I ever wrote. And it was about the, the merits of software in society. Now imagine this is, wow. It was 19, early eighties. Right. Very early age. Yeah.
Greg White (09:12):
Basic and Fortran and all that stuff. Right.
John Sicard (09:15):
Yeah. All the examples were in basic. Anyway, I found it quite fascinating. And, uh, and I decided that I would try it, you know, it was intriguing. And that’s when, I mean, that was pretty pivotal. I was, um, you know, I became better at software then I wasn’t a drummer that’s for sure. And partly because again, I felt like it was the perfect combination of creativity and science, and it allowed me to exercise a, this huge part of who I am, you know, the creative side of me, you know, being able to abstract, wildly challenge problems, challenging problems into a painting and turning that painting into code and making it work. That was a pretty pivotal moment for my career. No question. I mean, without making that single, almost by accident decision, I wouldn’t be where doing what I’m doing. Right.
Greg White (10:10):
Why do you think your dad picked that book?
John Sicard (10:13):
You know, I never asked him and I wish I did, you know, he, and I didn’t always get along. He was military. I had hair longer than most. Uh, I mean, I’d like Peter Frampton here, if you, me back and people who know Peter Frampton was, is anyway, uh,
Greg White (10:28):
Right. I know. Right. Or what happened, dude? Anyway,
John Sicard (10:35):
He never, he just got it for me and thought that, you know, maybe it was a vocation. I would be interested in, you know, both my sister and brother are quite, uh, academic. My sister’s a doctor, my brother’s an engineer and my brother an incredibly gifted, uh, almost genius type, right. In his teaching master’s degree, mathematics at Miguel when he was 17, you know, that kind of thing. So anyway, I guess he just thought, Hey, here’s something that you should consider and think about. It was a very simple paperback, very thin book, you know, something that, that was easy to read, but it was intriguing
Greg White (11:11):
Without mirrors or nothing. Is that, what is that? What, yeah.
John Sicard (11:14):
Without meaning nothing. That’s what it was called. And, and again, I met my wife by then and she she’s very, peanut is very, um, bright, speaks, four languages, very academic. And so she thought, well, why don’t you try? I mean, you know, you don’t know, you know, there’s one certainty you’ll fail without trying. Right. Without trying, it’s a guaranteed, you know, you don’t, you don’t make it anywhere. So I, you know, that was a pivot,
Greg White (11:39):
You know, at that age, right. For you to take the advice, probably a good thing that she was there. I mean, if you think about it, right. Anything, anything your parents hand you without the intervention of someone else at that age, you just kind of tuck it right in the dumpster. Right. Wow. That’s really cool.
John Sicard (11:59):
I remember, uh, I had never physically touched a computer until I, I was in university in computer science and I still remember the awkward moment of walking into lab and not knowing how to turn the machine on. And I just touching things to see if the machine would light up randomly pushing buttons. Then of course, then a student walked over and looked at me and went click, click.
Greg White (12:26):
Yeah. You can just hear him. Right. First of all, you, you were in, you were among coders or among tech people. So their first thought is 88. Yeah. It was this. He’ll never make it right. Well, that’s, that’s incredible. That’s actually, that is, that is a classic pivotal moment. I mean, did you have any thing else that you feel like really shaped you that dramatically? That’s pretty significant
John Sicard (12:58):
Say this and then, you know, and part of this has been, you know, my, uh, my career progression, which again, you know, I have to say it was almost quite by accident. I didn’t just like that. The thing that was never by accident was music. You know, that was a part of me, uh, very young and I was so committed to it. You know, I spent more money than you could possibly imagine on a custom set of Roger’s USA, Neil Peart size drums, cause drums were big back then really big anyway. So I spent a bunch of money on this beautiful kit and really poured myself into it. But so that wasn’t by accident, everything else seemed to be even falling into supply chain. You know, this was the thing about supply chain is it’s, it’s incredibly simplistic in its purpose. You really, it doesn’t take you a long time to explain to someone, you know, what the purpose of this supply chain is, but the arithmetic is wildly complex when you add it all together.
John Sicard (14:01):
Uh, the dynamics of human interaction and so on is wildly dynamic in between. I’d say the other thing, part of my upbringing like this, this notion of being open to change, well, my career at can access. I think I’ve held every single position except HR and the CFO and every everything else. I think I’ve, I’ve done. And it’s not that wasn’t on purpose. I didn’t say, Hey, I’m going to go tackle the next one. It was, you know, my longtime mentor and, uh, and champion really Doug Colbus, who said, we have a new problem, would you like to help solve it? And you know, being open to change, I lean in on problems like that. I don’t lean back and I tend to lean forward. Like, yeah, let’s sure I’ll try. I’ll do you know, I’ll try anything. And, uh, I think, you know, th that military upbringing, I never thought about it until now. I wasn’t thinking about it every time I said, sure. You know, put me in coach. Oh, you know, I’ll go do that. I wasn’t thinking of that, thinking about it at the time. But in retrospect, I think part of just the nature of who I am, I’m like, sure, let’s try something new. I’m happy to learn something new. How hard could it be? Right. Yeah. I mean, I’m not the only one to have done it. So if not me who, you know, yeah.
Greg White (15:17):
I think that’s a great perspective to have in that problem. It’s I call, in some cases, I call that the blessing of naivete, right? I mean, you’re not afraid of it because you don’t quite understand it and you just figure, I’ll give it a shot.
John Sicard (15:33):
You don’t know what pain a failure will be. Cause you haven’t failed yet. So just lean in. He said, I’ll try it. You bet on yourself. And I am a forever learner. I think when you stop learning, you start dying. And so every day is an opportunity to learn a thing at every opportunity I thought, wow, this is going to be a whole new world of learning, going to be incredible. Uh, and I’m gonna S you know, I just, I’m an insatiable learner. I just think I’m still learning. Right. You’ve just done it on a learning journey,
Greg White (16:03):
Fascinated in your definition of failure, because I sense that you don’t mean you’ve never failed even in the slightest. You just mean haven’t failed at this thing, or haven’t ever failed completely.
John Sicard (16:16):
No, you, I mean, I think you can’t trip if you’re not moving. So, you know, this notion of just staying still and doing nothing. Well, there’s not a way to live a life. I don’t think at least for me, not for everybody, for me, I thought, no, I I’d like to experience new things. I’d like to learn new things. The fascinating thing about learning is everything is compounded. You know, what you learned yesterday is adding to what you learned today and so on and so on and so on. And so, you know, I think it in, in re again, in retrospect, not certainly not on purpose, I think about what prepared me to do the role I’m doing now. Well, I don’t know. I, I don’t know how I would be able to do the role I’m doing now, if it hadn’t been for learning all of those things that I’d learned over the years, you know, every role that I’ve had, right.
John Sicard (17:05):
Whether it was, I mean, of all, I mean, I leave, we have a chief marketing officer, J mule offer, I think would just, he would just die knowing that I used to run marketing. I mean, he’s, I can’t run marketing, but I learned enough to know what it is outright, fail it failed at some things, for sure. But I’ve also grown, uh, a phenomenal appreciation for what that role means. And you know, what good marketing looks like or what good R and D looks like or what that selling looks like. You know, you get an appreciation for a cross section of what runs a business. Okay.
Greg White (17:39):
I think you learn enough to lead. You may not learn enough to run it, but you learn enough to lead the foundational principles, foundationally what works or doesn’t work a lot, probably a lot of what doesn’t work and also a perspective for what’s going through that. Person’s mind it’s. I mean, it’s not unlike coaching, right? You almost have to play it, do it. That I love that perspective. I love, I love that learning perspective. You’re right. You’re either to quote the great philosopher, big Tom Callahan from Tommy boy, you’re either growing or you’re dying there ain’t no third direction, right?
John Sicard (18:18):
No people should live that life. I tell everybody the same thing. W because everyone is both a student and the teacher every day, right. Everyone is both. And so, you know, everything I’ve learned has been through the generosity of others and their experiences. Some of it has been through my own failures, for sure, but I never failed to, to thank and appreciate anybody who’s willing to teach me anything that they’ve learned that I haven’t. And so I tell people be it, you know, a gracious student, okay. If somebody teaches you a thing, it’s a generosity, it’s a kindness they give to you. Cause th th that learning is experienced, you know, bottled up and knowledge, and you should thank them. But equally, you know, be a, uh, a generous teacher, hide nothing, you know, pay everything forward, everything you learn, you know, you should be completely open to teaching others that want to learn it.
Greg White (19:12):
I talked to a lot of leaders, a lot of tech, founders and leaders on this show. And we get a lot of incredible wisdom from folks. And at the same time, we recognize that people go through a lot of failures to get to the point that they’re at the point of success that they’re at now. And I’m always fascinated by the exceptional gifts of the, of the folks that I talked to that, honestly, this is like school for me every day. I love it. I really do. And you know, one of the things that I’ve thought about in my leadership journey has been why I can only do it in retrospect. Other people probably understand themselves a lot better. I’m not that deep. One of the things that I’ve recognized is I’ve got a few things that people would probably consider dysfunctions that I channel into positivity that actually have helped me. So if you think about it from your perspective, is there anything that people could objectively call a dysfunction that you use to help you be a good leader or team member or person?
John Sicard (20:14):
You know, I tend to be exceptionally organized around certain things. I have an absolute aversion to wires, like SPI, it’s a bizarre thing, right? But maybe this is a weird thing about being a musician too. Like, you know, everything, I think every problem is symmetrical and everything has a place. Like if you looked at my environment right now, even though there’s two computer screens and all that, the wires are completely wrapped. So it looks like one wire, uh, everything is tucked away. It’s impeccably organized in terms of that, the wiring, I don’t know if that, and again, I, if you, you know, I have a recording studio in my house. Well, there’s a lot of wires. If you ever walk into a recording studio, let me tell you there’s wires everywhere. Not in my studio. Okay. You can’t, you can’t even find that you can’t even see them.
John Sicard (21:07):
Okay. Cause I’ve meticulously hidden them away. It’s almost like a razor focus on eliminating complexity in any kind of situation. I think it’s one of those things that I do naturally. I’ll give you an example. Okay. That has that’s sort of business really. Okay. People will tell me, well, how complex is selling. There’s only three steps to selling anything. Step one, generate interest and intrigue. That’s it that’s step one. You can’t sell anything if you can’t generate any interest or intrigue. Right. So there’s something about the human condition. You can’t ignore being intrigued by something. Right. Okay. Step two. Trust and confidence. That’s it just build trust and confidence. And step three is respect. There’s just three. Those are the three phase people put these long processes together. And so on. I, I tend to think about things in very simplistic, very clean, clean, clean lines, you know? So again, maybe, maybe it’s the wiring aversion. I have, I don’t function well, you know, in whether a studio environment or a work environment, that things are unnecessarily complex.
Greg White (22:16):
Ockham’s razor, simplest answer is usually the best one. Right. And that’s probably what allows you to take on new tasks at all times is you, you think of them in very, or, or break them down into very simple concepts.
John Sicard (22:32):
Yeah. And it’s not unlike software engineering, software engineering is all about taking wildly complex circumstances. And, um, you know, formulating, if you will, you know, it’s almost a picture of what the components of a problem actually are in their macro state. Working on that first, I think really helps. You know, it’s the abstraction process, I guess. How do you abstract very complex problems and simplify the nature of them? The sales process is just an example. How do I take complex? I know it’s complex. Great. Okay. I’m going to simplify it into these very simplistic. The nature of, of the selling process involves these three, quite obvious to me anyway, stages. Yeah.
Greg White (23:18):
Well, and everybody has to break things down into the way that their mind operates right into the way that they work. And if that radical simplicity is what’s necessary for you or for someone, then you got to go with it. And that’s the whole point of that question. John is whatever that thing is that drives you. You could argue that’s obsessive compulsive. You could argue. It’s a lot of things, but the truth is you can make it work for you and work for good. Then go with it. I think people spend a whole lot of their lives fighting that thing that is defined as something, maybe a dysfunction or a disadvantage or whatever it is, they fight that thing their whole life. And then they realize that that thing can actually become, or maybe actually is already their strength.
John Sicard (24:09):
A hundred percent. I still cut my own grass, but I’ll tell you in advance of starting that process, I already have a pattern in mind. You know, it’s like that, right. I look at it and go, no, you don’t just cut the grass, create a pattern. You can create beauty out of it. Uh, you know, something as simple as cutting your grass at the end of it, you can look at it and go, you know, okay, the grass isn’t just cut. It looks beautiful. It’s exactly the diagonal pattern or the circular pattern you were making here or whatever.
Greg White (24:37):
I think for people in technology, there’s a lot of therapy in cutting grass. At least there is for me because we don’t do it. We don’t deliver anything physical John. I mean, we deliver results that hit a balance sheet. We don’t really deliver anything physical. And I love both the symmetry and the physical, the physical reinforcement that you’ve accomplished something of seeing one row of CRAs lower than the other on that front. Let’s really get off track. Do you do a cleanup pass around the outer edge of the, of the yard after you finished
John Sicard (25:13):
Do, but with, uh, with, with one of those weed eater type things. Right? So I, I, the edge has to be sharp. Very good, no blades of grass bleeding onto the, uh, hard surfaces.
Greg White (25:27):
That’s perfect. So I was a greens mower in college, which is like the premadonna of a golf course. And so I always do back and forth, changed the direction multiple times, and then do one final pass around the outer edge with the mower, even before I hedge. And then I go stand in the street and look at my hair hardcore. So as long as we’ve exposed that we’re in this whole technology game, share with us a little bit. So just so our audience knows and our community can grasp what it is that can access does because this next part, this is the violent agreement part that I’m promising people where we talk about supply chain and its propensities and problems and opportunities and challenges. So tell us a little bit about what can access does just so they have a frame of reference.
John Sicard (26:13):
You know, I, I liked it first talk about what can access means to the world of supply chain. If we were to have a just cause, or, you know, if we were to have a, a mission or vision for the company, you know, we describe it as to revolutionize planning. And so you might wonder why the revolution well, you know, I think the world has become increasingly inefficient at supply chain as business. You know, volatility increases as the velocity of business increases the way to absorb it has become wildly inefficient. And obviously an inefficient supply chain means you’re wasting natural resources. You’re wasting energy, wasting cash, you’re wasting talent. So at can access, you know, we serve the largest manufacturers in the world to tackle that waste and eliminate it become wildly more efficient and able to keep up with the volatility of business and the, and the velocity of business, both of which I think are increasing
Greg White (27:12):
The volatility hashtag COVID happened, right? I mean, 2020 is the expression of as volatile as it can get the virtually instantaneous shutdown of society, right. I call it a seismic societal disruption virtually overnight. You can’t get more disruptive than that.
John Sicard (27:31):
It is an absolute global shock. It’s global and has hit not only businesses, but families and it’s hit everyone simultaneous. It’s like, it’s like a tsunami in every country at the same time in every city happening simultaneously. And so it really starts to test the systems and the procedures and the rigor of the planet because supply chain makes the world go round. You know, people say, Oh, you know, I think supply chain practitioners are on the frontline, just like doctors are, how do you think doctors apply their medicine? They need all kinds of material at the right place at the right time. They need all kinds of pharmaceuticals and, and drugs and so on at the, at the right place at the right time. So before you get those frontline workers, you get practitioners, supply chain practitioners, moving goods around the world at the same time, there’s this global shockwave, you know, I, yeah, I think one of the things that’s emerging out of COVID is a recognition that the current systems cannot sustain this kind of a shock, of course, it’s never been tested before, but now it is. And, you know, it’s equivalent to being on an aircraft with all of its sophistication. And yet it does happen. You hit wild amount of, you know, you, you can hit wild turbulence at a moment’s notice. Right? Well, first thing a pilot does is take it off autopilot, grab the yoke. So the only thing you can do, you can’t run on autopilot. It’s too uncertain. It’s too dangerous. It’s too dangerous. Think of it. There’s dangerous and automating complete unknown circumstances.
Greg White (29:09):
I think of sailing that you can have autopilot on a sailboat, but if the waves are hitting the boat, it’s just the right direction. Not a pilot, can’t sustain that only a human can sustain that, that direction. It’s not dissimilar to, to flight. Right. But yeah, absolutely. And when we planned this visit to have this discussion, we talked a little bit about that. We talked about some of the things that are going on in supply chain that I think in some cases we agree our madness. In some cases we need to need to happen or needed to happen even before this seismic societal disruption. So, so tell us a little bit about your thoughts on what’s unique or unknown, or really complex about supply chain and some of those things that are changing or need to change or even perspectives that have held us back from change. What jumps immediately to mind?
John Sicard (30:05):
Well, first I would say that it isn’t a technological discussion that should be happening flat out thinking that we have the wrong technology, I think is the, is, is flawed. I mean, that’s not the point of, of learning about the condition that we’re in right now. I think we have flawed techniques. You know, what governs supply chain, what has been governing supply chains for the last 30 years, which by the way, we’re better than the previous 30. Okay. Which were, you know, those were better than the previous. I mean, look, supply chain has been around as long as humanity has. And so it’s gone through continuous improvement over that time. It’s, it’s, it’s obvious as society in Rose and as society matures as the world shrinks, you know, do, do travel in the internet and all of those commercial, uh, elements, so much supply chains, they have to, they have to learn to absorb the conditions that are changing every day.
John Sicard (31:05):
I think what we’re learning, the big macro thing that we’re learning is that this obsession, this absolute madness obsession for accuracy has been at the expense of agility. And this global shockwave is, is highlighting in absolute stark, obvious, bright lights. What it feels like to have an agility muscle that is completely atrophied. And that that’s the macro lesson. I think that everyone is feeling things that you knew to be absolutely certain yesterday can no longer be trusted. The only way to combat that kind of a circumstance is to have a healthy dose, a healthy competency in responding to the uncertainty. And that is basically what agility is, right. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but whatever does I can move fast enough to course correct and absorb it and not have it. I think that’s the macro level learning. The thing that makes this so interesting is that the learning is uniform across every country, every vertical, every manufacturer, big, small, medium doesn’t matter. There’s suffering in the same manner.
Greg White (32:29):
What’s interesting is you said atrophy. I would argue it was nearly ignored agility. We’ve both been doing this for let’s just say around two decades, John, how about that? Can we agree? Okay, that’s good. So what I have seen is this, as you said, obsession with accuracy, and that’s usually specifically around the forecast trying to predict what is going to happen seven or 13 or 55 algorithms that try to determine what the forecast for demand is going to be. And all these algorithms that try then to optimize or minimize more often minimize the inventories against that forecast and a near, I don’t know, a near, I don’t know how to say it. That mean we nearly ignore the fact that you can actually respond effectively while not having, and maybe not even expecting an accurate forecast because there are, as wise people have often said, there, there are two kinds of
John Sicard (33:34):
Lucky and wrong, right?
Greg White (33:39):
Yeah. And, and, and we, you know, we obviously don’t always get, uh, don’t hardly ever get lucky.
John Sicard (33:47):
That’s right. It’s like, it’s, Hey, it’s like playing the lottery. Right. How many times do you have to play to win? Probably you’ll never win. Yeah.
Greg White (33:55):
Yeah. I had a lawyer tell me, and I don’t know why he was such a statistical expert. He said, you know, the chances of winning are one in 350 billion. You haven’t appreciably increased your odds just by buying it.
John Sicard (34:09):
That’s right. So a hundred percent. Right. And that’s, that’s a, that’s a wise lawyer. Yeah.
Greg White (34:16):
Such a very, very wise lawyer, also also an artist in his own. Right.
John Sicard (34:21):
Awesome. I would say this and look, I think the problem hasn’t necessarily been forecasting. It’s been this, this, um, this notion that somehow it alone harness the volatility of the planet, that all the assumptive parameters you can apply to it. And the other absolute red herring, you know, is this notion that the assumptive parameters that drive your forecast directly actually accurate. They’re not at the same time. I’ll tell you this. You have to know whether you’re going North or West or East. You have to have some direction. And so to the extent that, you know, the mathematics behind forecasting help is they, they kind of give you directionally where you need to be gone. And that that’s important. You don’t have to guess that it’s wonderful to have technologies out there that can say you’re roughly moving in this direction. And it makes sense. It’s a viable and defensible direction to be going based on where you’ve been and where you want to go and all of good things.
John Sicard (35:22):
Good. Good, good, good. The notion though, that the forecast error, it could be absorbed by more forecasting. Well, that’s absurd. And again, this is where I think we’ve had this, this terrific imbalance between, you know, what, what I’ll call the pure math based models without, without the human ingenuity, the human creativity, the human judge, the human judgment applied to it. And I think there’s fewer and fewer people. Now that believe that, Oh, uh, you know, a pure algorithmic approach to running a supply chain for the rest of time is, is the right way to go
Greg White (36:04):
Ocean that one or a collection of humans can create a collection of algorithms that no humans will ever need to intervene upon. Again is folly. Isn’t it? I mean, what makes those humans that much smarter? And frankly, some of the forecasting techniques that we use in supply chain, some of them are over a hundred years old and they’re actually based, they’re actually constructed based on the presumption of absence of data, not presence of data. And there, we have so much more access to data these days that we need to rethink even those brilliant algorithms. And if we’ve learned anything, John, if we’ve learned anything in 2020, it is to quote every stockbroker advertisement you’ve ever seen. The past is no indication of future success, right? I mean, absolutely true. There’s nothing, no forecasting technique that looks at the past could have predicted 2020 of course, no forecasting technique by the way, could have, but nothing that has looked at the past could do that. You know, I’ve coined this phrase post casting, which is looking at history and expecting that to be a representation of the future, without any other context, that is a fallacy that has held us back for decades, centuries, arguably in supply chain.
John Sicard (37:26):
What we’re learning is it’s not an indictment against forecasting because it has its place, right? It’s an indictment though that the ultimate breakthrough and the ultimate, you know, I’d say generational improvement required today can continue to ignore agility. And as soon as you start talking about, well, how do you strengthen an agility muscle? Let’s not like any, it’s not like strengthening even your physical muscles. You can’t say I’m, you know, I’m going to start, you know, bench pressing. And hopefully my legs will get stronger. Well, no, that’s no, there’s a specific, uh, way to exercise a particular muscle group. And as it relates to agility, and when we start to see where, you know, a lot of the world’s greatest practitioner thought leaders, if you will, they’re starting to apply that thinking. Now they’re starting to realize that it isn’t, that there’s something wrong with forecasting or there’s something wrong with math, math based models to, to predict where, where the world will be. You know, the wisdom is saying, you know, ignoring the techniques that would, that make you more agile, okay. Is where disaster
John Sicard (38:36):
Lives. That’s where companies will ultimately fail tune in next week. For part two
Greg White (38:41):
Of our interview with John Soccard, this
John Sicard (38:44):
Master of the supply chain craft, listen up
Greg White (38:48):
Sheila sunrise as part of the supply chain. Now network the voice of supply chain, featuring the people technologies best practices and key issues in the industry. And Hey, listen up to build your supply chain knowledge listened to get this supply chain is boring. Or Chris Barnes connects you to the who’s, who that got supply chain, where we are point as to where we’re going and take us to the next level or check out this week in business history with supply chain now’s own Scott Luton, to learn more about everyday things you may take for granted and pick up quick insights you can use as inspiration and conversation starters. Our logistics with purpose series puts a spotlight on inspiring and successful organizations that give first give forward as their business model. If you’re interested in transportation, freight and logistics have listened to the logistics and beyond series with the adapt and thrive mindset, Sherpa Jaman Alvidrez and also check out Tech-Talk hosted by industry vet and Atlanta zone Corrinne bursa supply chain pro to no of 2020, where Korean discusses the people, processes and technology of digital supply chain for sponsorship information on tequila, sunrise, or any supply chain.
Greg White (40:06):
Now show DM me on Twitter or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks again for spending your time with me acknowledge reality, but never be bound by it.
Would you rather watch the show in action? Watch as Greg welcomes John Sicard to TECHquila Sunrise through our YouTube channel.
John Sicard assumed the role of President and Chief Executive Officer of Kinaxis in January 2016. With over 23 years’ tenure at Kinaxis, John first started at the company as a key contributor to the architecture and development of Kinaxis’ supply chain management solutions in early 1994, and has since held a number of senior management roles in development, professional services, business consulting, sales, marketing and customer support. Prior to his current appointment, John was Chief Products Officer, overseeing all aspects of the product life cycle, including product vision and strategy, design and development, product management and quality assurance. Before joining Kinaxis, John held senior software architect and management positions in research and development at FastMAN Software Systems, Inc (also known as Promira before being purchased by Manugistics), and Monenco Agra. John earned a Bachelor of Computer Science, from Concordia University, Montreal, Canada, with a strong focus on software architecture and UI Design. John is also a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program.
Greg White serves as Principal & Host at Supply Chain Now. Greg is a founder, CEO, board director and advisor in B2B technology with multiple successful exits. He recently joined Trefoil Advisory as a Partner to further their vision of stronger companies by delivering practical solutions to the highest-stakes challenges. Prior to Trefoil, Greg served as CEO at Curo, a field service management solution most notably used by Amazon to direct their fulfillment center deployment workforce. Greg is most known for founding Blue Ridge Solutions and served as President & CEO for the Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader of cloud-native supply chain applications that balance inventory with customer demand. Greg has also held leadership roles with Servigistics, and E3 Corporation, where he pioneered their cloud supply chain offering in 1998. In addition to his work at Supply Chain Now and Trefoil, rapidly-growing companies leverage Greg as an independent board director and advisor for his experience building disruptive B2B technology and supply chain companies widely recognized as industry leaders. He’s an insightful visionary who helps companies rapidly align vision, team, market, messaging, product, and intellectual property to accelerate value creation. Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams to create breakthroughs that gain market exposure and momentum, and increase company esteem and valuation. Learn more about Trefoil Advisory: www.trefoiladvisory.com
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