Books are the biggest source of inspiration


During the summer vacation – which is the ideal time for reflection – supply chain professionals mostly turn to books for inspiration. General management books and supply chain management publications are the most popular choices, according to Supply Chain Media’s survey on supply chain professionals’ holiday habits.

By Onno Beijers

It seems that supply chain professionals never completely switch off from their work, even during the summer. When asked about how they find new inspiration, they provided a wide variety of answers. Reading books and magazines is the most common method (73%) – with Supply Chain Magazine and Supply Chain Movement topping the list by far in that category. Watching documentaries, films and presentations (47%) comes a distant second. Other important sources of inspiration include attending events/concerts or gaming (41%), with city trips, museum visits or outdoor activities not far behind (38%). Listening to podcasts (15%) completes the top five sources of inspiration.

When a screen is involved, supply chain professionals are most likely to look for inspiration by watching films and series (67%), followed by watching documentaries or presentations such as TED talks (52%). One in three say that they find it inspiring to watch sport, and vlogs and home videos are a source of inspiration for over a quarter (27%) of all respondents.

Generally speaking, the professionals indicate that such pastimes “help them to reflect on their current position with respect to their ambitions, goals and inspiration,” as one respondent puts it. Another professional comments: “Getting away from my everyday work helps me to clear my head, creating room for innovative thoughts. You only need a tiny seed of new information to spark new ideas.”

Industry publications

Most respondents hope to find those ‘seeds’ primarily in industry publications and management books. The question of which publications they would recommend to fellow supply chain professionals prompted a broad spectrum of suggestions, including ‘The Logistics and Supply Chain Innovation Handbook’ (John Manners-Bell, Ken Lyon), ‘Sustainable supply chains’ (Yann Bouchery, Charles Corbett, Jan Fransoo, Tarkan Tan), ‘Kennismaken met Lean’ (Hoek, Koopmans, Nieuwland) and ‘DDMRP’ by Carol Ptak and Chad Smith, although one respondent advises that the latter should be read “with a pinch of salt”.

Other suggestions include various management books. One respondent – who is probably a follower – recommends people to read all of the books by leadership guru Simon Sinek, who has written many well-known works such as ‘The golden circle’ and ‘Start with why’. The list also contains books such as ‘Discipline en lef’ (Etienne van Oosten, Jeanette Harmsen, Natasja de Groot), ‘Reinventing Organizations’ (Frederic Laloux), ‘Vitamine P – de kracht van positief leiderschap in eenvoud’ (Bert van Dam and Chiel van der Linden), ‘The coaching habit’ (Michael Bungay Stanier), ‘De kracht van high performance teams’ (Ben Kuipers, Sandra Groeneveld), ‘Good to Great’ (Jim Collins), ‘5 dysfunctions of a team’ (Patrick Lencioni), ‘The One Minute Manager series’ (Kenneth H. Blanchard) and ‘Doorbreek de cirkel’ by Arend Ardon.

Self-help books and biographies

The wide variety of books recommended by the supply chain professionals underlines their broad scope of interests. Categories range from books on economics, marketing and history to thrillers, self-help books and biographies, with the latter two categories proving particularly popular. Just some of the suggested self-help books include: ‘Let’s get real or let’s not play’ (Khalsa and Illig), ‘The outward mindset’ (Arbinger Institute), ‘Outliers: the story of success’ (Malcom Gladwell) and ‘7 habits of highly effective people’ by Stephen Covey. The survey also reveals that supply chain professionals enjoy reading about real-life entrepreneurs and leaders, as illustrated by references to ‘Wim van der Leegte’ (Frits Conijn), ‘Elon Musk biography’ (Ashlee Vance) and ‘Long walk to freedom’ (Nelson Mandela). Sport-related tips include the biography of professional cyclist Bram Tankink (‘Tank’, co-authored with Ralph Blijlevens).