The Association for Operations Management (APICS) Conference: Excellence is The New Norm. Day 3
My plan was to get up and get to the Survival in a Chaotic World session at 10 am; ironically, that was the same problem I was facing that morning. I wasn’t able to wake up on time, as I was nursing a slight hangover and only five hours of sleep from previous night.
I got to the conference for a sit-down lunch, and this time around we had Asian cuisine. It had nothing on TAO; ah, the sweet memories. After a quick coffee and a chat with my table neighbors, I returned to the sessions; with only two to go, I was inclined to make the most of them. I attended a session of Improved Forecasting, and it proved to be very interesting and not as complicated as it might sound. Lloyd Clive made a very simplified version of forecasting that even an amateur can use. Here is a website and some photos from the session.
They say it’s best to end on a high note, and the next speaker did just that by providing lessons he learned in India. Daniel Castle had some great insights into Indian life and culture that might be roadblocks for someone who is looking to do business in India or just travel there. He gave a great presentation on what one should and shouldn’t do in India. I’ve posted two videos, probably the longest ones of the conference.
Then there was the closing reception, with great food—pumpkin ravioli was my favorite—some last-minute networking and socializing, back to my hotel, and then on the plane to New York.
Takeaway Observations on the Conference
People were not very open outside their own groups; for the most part, they stayed with colleagues from their own company. I don’t think APICS did enough to facilitate networking; a “networking lunch” is not enough. There should have been speed networking sessions. There should have been instructions at the end of each session to break out of the group and socialize. There should have been facilitators in the networking hall who would walk around and introduce people who were by themselves. I personally have no problem talking to people I don’t know, but I saw this as an issue for other people.
My biggest issue would have to be with session’s variety lineup. I didn’t see anything about the Internet and how it’s affecting operations management; they should have had Omniture and Google analytics data analysis session, since operations managers have all the tools to analyze these data much better then website designers or anyone else in the company. What about a few sessions on marketing and sales in relation to operations management? I think this was a huge gap in the lineup. How about exports and imports and how they affect OM?
I spoke with some very big names in operations management once I got back to New York, such as Bary Render and Richard Chase. Both have written numerous books for MBAs programs and have been in the industry since the 1970s. They have both said that they didn’t see APICS reaching out to them, which I think is a big mistake if awareness of operations management to the public is to be achieved. If either one of them mention certifications in OM in their books, it can do a lot of good for the OM field. It could be because of a closed perception. For example, I went to speak to the APICS magazine booth and let one of the people in the booth know that we’re working on educating people outside operations management on what this field is about. I never saw such an obvious expression of boredom on a person’s face as when she took my card. You are a magazine for god sakes, if any other department gave me such expression, I wouldn’t mind as much, but not the magazine focused on educating people about Operations Management field. After such occurrence, I’m not surprised about the lack of awareness of the OM field outside the industry. I don’t know why they even had that booth.
On the other hand, I spoke with Abe Askhanzai (CEO of APICS) at the closing reception, and his reaction was much better. It does seem that he’s working to improve APICS, and I shared some ideas with him. Joe Walden one of the speakers at the event with whom I had a chance to speak after the conference, has noticed that APICS has been putting effort to move organization into different direction and effort have been showing in the past few conferences with more speakers on expanded variety of fields in OM.
The conference was well organized and didn’t seem to have any major hiccups, which is impressive, considering the size of it.
My own take away, and this is purely my observations of someone who is not allied with any of the organization, APICS and other organizations in operations management field have to rethink how they raise awareness of the OM field to the outsiders, since right now it’s very fragmented. The CPA and bar exams are well-known standards in accounting and law. Why doesn’t our even more measured industry have such a standard? One answer may be because there are at least a dozen organizations in the field of risk management, operations management, and supply management, but they don’t work together. Until organizations work together, there won’t be standards. There are 3 major operations and/or supply chain organizations in Chicago area alone, yet they all highly independent of each other.
Those are all my observations and comments. Stay tuned for the job features that are coming soon.
If you missed day1 or day 2 of a conference , you can find it write up about it here: