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Learning to Block and Tackle

APICS Senior Director, Professional Development

Thursday April 7, 2016


Few would argue that Vince Lombardi was one of the greatest football coaches of all time.  Like many other great coaches (e.g., basketball legends John Wooden and Phil Jackson), Lombardi focused on the fundamentals of the game – blocking and tackling, how to throw the ball.

According to the best-selling book, When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi, author David Maraniss relates a story about Lombardi’s first day at the Green Bay Packers training camp in July, 1961. The Packers ended the previous season with a humiliating defeat by the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL Championships.

Maraniss states – “He (Lombardi) took nothing for granted. He began a tradition of starting from scratch, assuming that the players were blank slates who carried over no knowledge from the year before –  He began with the most elemental statement of all; ‘Gentlemen,’ he said, holding a pigskin in his right hand, ‘this is a football.’”

Sports isn’t the only area of life where the fundamentals matter. There are fundamentals that a business needs to get it right all the time, or it risks eventual failure.

Occasionally I’ll hear an operations or supply chain professional say that APICS is “out of date,” or “stale.”  The Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) certification is often singled out in those conversations.

Yet, the CPIM is one of the best structured effective ways to teach employees the fundamentals so that they master the body of knowledge and apply that knowledge to a variety of work environments.

  • Effective forecasting and planning
  • Managing inventory to have the right product, at the right place, at the right time, in just the right amount
  • Scheduling production to be able to ship a quality product on time
  • Reducing waste in all its forms, and so on

Back when I was a practitioner and, later, a consultant, there were only a couple of companies that I worked with that had the fundamentals down. The rest were deficient in one area or another - forecasting, planning, inventory management and control, scheduling – and their business results showed it.

I had one client, a division of a Fortune 100 global company, that had an inventory accuracy of less than 40% at the start of our project. Fortunately, there was a lot of room for improvement, which they eventually made by applying the fundamentals of CPIM. Big name companies have had millions in losses because they didn’t source materials properly.  A large electronic retailer went out of business during the “great recession,” because they didn’t know how to manage their inventory costs.

The APICS CPIM can help you with the fundamentals, can teach your team how to “block and tackle,” and will validate their ability to apply these fundamentals.

Join me on Tuesday, April 19, at 1 p.m. Central time, for the first of three webinars about the CPIM certification, “Why You Need the APICS CPIM to Master the Fundamentals in Business.” We’ll talk about the value companies are getting from their certified employees, how employers look for professionals with CPIM and, over the following two webinars, talk about how to prepare for the exams and how to go into a CPIM exam with confidence. We will record these webinars, if you’re not available to attend, but we encourage you to register anyway, we will include a special offer and we’ll send you the link to the recordings.   

Lombardi’s focus on fundamentals turned the Packers into the most envied and successful franchise in the 1960’s, leading them to five NFL Championships, including victories in Super Bowl I and II.

Can your team handle the fundamentals in your business?

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