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Design Thinking in Procurement: Re-imagined Supply Services in a Digital Value Chain

In the 1980s, General Motors learned a difficult lesson about technology when it copied Japanese auto manufacturers in their use of robotics — but didn’t copy anything else. Thinking that large capital investments in technology were the key element to the success of Japanese automotive supply chains, GM spent billions purchasing hundreds of industrial robots. Management claimed the increased automation would significantly boost productivity. Instead, the robots broke down and started painting themselves, breaking windshields and even welding doors shut at a Cadillac plant.

Yet beyond the production delays and the expensive repairs required to straighten out the wayward robots, GM missed an essential point. The Japanese automakers saw robots as just one element of a larger supply chain design. GM’s competitors were successful not because of a technological silver bullet but because they had designed an operating plan that translated customer-focused product design into a simplified, flexible, self-improving supply chain.

There are no quick fixes or cure-alls when designing a larger supply chain. You need a comprehensive approach. Download this paper to learn how!

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