Talking Logistics YOUniversity: Our First Course

TalkingLogistics_YOUniversity_Logo_Final_434Talking Logistics was launched as a live, online video talk show focused on supply chain and logistics topics. A year after launching, however, a supply chain executive said to me, “Talking Logistics is like an online Executive MBA course, with live lectures and guest speakers every week discussing timely and important topics.” That perspective resonated with me because for years I’ve been advocating the need for new models of supply chain learning, how we need to think beyond traditional paths to learning and embrace (among other things) new peer-to-peer learning models enabled by social networking technologies and communities.

It’s from that perspective and motivation that I’m excited to announce Talking Logistics YOUniversity and our first course: Fundamentals of Selecting and Working with 3PL Partners.

This self-service, three-session course provides an introduction to several important factors companies should consider when selecting and working with third-party logistics providers (3PLs):

Session 1: Important Factors to Consider When Evaluating and Selecting a 3PL Partner. In this session, Adrian Gonzalez provides an overview of the most important factors companies should consider when evaluating and selecting a 3PL partner

Session 2: Assessing the IT Capabilities of 3PLs. Building upon the IT discussion in the first session, Adrian Gonzalez dives deeper into some key metrics and assessment questions companies should consider when assessing the IT capabilities of their 3PL partners.

Session 3: Getting to We – Creating Long-Lasting, Successful Business Relationships. In this session, Kate Vitasek and Jeanette Nyden discuss the key points from their book, Getting to We, which “flips conventional negotiation on its head and shifts the perspective to where it belongs: viewing the relationship as the substance of the deal, not merely a ‘once and done’ transaction.”

The course was assembled from past Talking Logistics episodes related to the topic, coupled with blog posts, an e-book, a presentation, and other value-added content to enhance the overall learning experience. We also developed a short online quiz for you to take after completing the course, and enabled an online discussion forum for course participants to post questions and share knowledge and advice with each other.

I encourage you to check out the course and let us know what you think. Your constructive feedback and ideas will help us improve this new learning model.

Our plan is to develop additional courses this year, with the support of sponsors and others. But we need your input on which courses to develop, and what topics and questions the courses should address. This is a YOUniversity, where you help us create the syllabus.

The traditional course syllabus is basically a reflection of what a single person — the instructor — views as important and relevant to teach, created with virtually no input or direction from the students. Our YOUniversity approach is different: we develop the syllabus based on the specific questions you have about supply chain management and the topics you’re most interested in learning about, which should align with your work responsibilities. We will still contribute content to the course, but rather than dictating 100 percent of it, our main role is to “tie the pieces” together in a coherent manner, “fill in the blanks” with important topics not raised by the students, and initiate and moderate stimulating conversations.

If you’re a supply chain or logistics executive at a manufacturing or retail company and are interested in serving as a course instructor — that is, being a guest on a Talking Logistics episode — please contact us. There is minimal prep and time commitment involved. For an example, check out my conversation with Angel Mendez, SVP at Cisco Systems.

And if you’re a technology provider, third-party logistics company, or other firm interested in sponsoring a course, please contact us for additional information.

I’ll end with this quote by leadership expert Ken Blanchard: “When you stop learning, you stop leading,” which is especially true in supply chain management. New technologies, business models, competitors, legislation, economic issues, and so on are constantly emerging. Therefore, it’s critically important for supply chain executives to stay informed of these trends and make the time for learning because yesterday’s leading practices might no longer apply and they’ll need to develop and implement new ones to succeed moving forward.

Our goal for Talking Logistics YOUniversity is to pave a new path to learning and leadership development for supply chain executives and young professionals. And that journey begins today.