Monday, October 10, 2011

Sherpas...The Supply Chain of the Himalaya

Last week I had the opportunity to provide the closing keynote for the Global Conference of Supply Chain Professionals in Philadelphia. This was the annual gathering of 3,000 of the folks that bring all of the products from manufacturer to consumer everyday of the year. From produce and apparel to computers and soft drinks...these are the individuals that work within their respective industries to deliver items to our store shelves.

Clearly we take for granted the ease with which we can walk into the grocery store and purchase a banana from Guatemala for cents on the dollar. The execution and planning that goes into bringing that banana from tree to store requires an immense amount of planning, communication and commitment to deliver in the way that we as the consumer expect it to be delivered.

In preparation for this event I did as much research as possible on the roles and responsibilities of the supply chain professional and it quickly became clear that these folks are truly the Sherpas of consumer based industries. Committed, selfless and a strong desire to see a project through to it’s end. The right way.

As most of you know, the Sherpa community has been instrumental in my life. I have tremendous respect for the men that have helped me and my teams to the summits of many Himalayan giants. We depend on the Sherpas to help us with so many of our tasks while climbing these huge peaks...from assembling camp to cooking the food and even establishing the route on very dangerous sections of any given mountain. Critical to our success for sure.

But beyond their commitment to helping their teams, the Sherpa embody an attitude of “get it done”. You will never hear a Sherpa complain about a task being too hard or too long or too heavy. They are work horses and know that in order to get their job done they have to take the skills they have, knuckle down and just get it done. It is quite simply, the Sherpa Attitude. They don’t care about their own summit aspirations. The accolades that follow the successful summit of a huge peak mean very little to them. They are committed to getting their team to the top.

It’s all about accepting a chore. Strategizing on best practices. Surrounding yourself with like minded, hard working folks. And then executing. With loyalty, integrity and gumption. No whining. No complaining. Just get it done.

I believe that each of my new supply chain friends from the event the other day really related to the role of the Sherpa. They know that their job is to selflessly provide their team an end result...every time.

The Sherpa attitude is proud. It’s time to Sherpa Up!

Go fight the good fight!