The Saflex case

What I call the “Saflex case” is in fact the presentation Roger Bloemen did for us during the last course of Operations Management. I already mentioned that it was very good. I wanted to know more about the case that can be summarized as: “how to use operations to save and put back to profitability a company under chapter 11“.

You can find some sweet videos of the 80’s on Youtube:

(No animal were hurt during the shooting of this movie)

More interesting is the infomercial video made by Metascreen in which heads of Saflex were interviewed (Roger Bloemen did not appear). The emphasis on Saflex people is also there, in the end …

But when you dig further it is not that easy to find something about the Saflex case, even if you choose other names for this case. Because, if I’m right, there is no Saflex case per se. “Just” some academic papers on a MIT professor Yossi Sheffi’s website. You will find these papers by looking for Roberto Perez-Franco in Sheffi’s page about publications (ok, direct links here and here – they might break if Sheffi is changing his webpage). These paper deal with the evaluation of the supply chain strategy of companies. Already if companies had a supply chain strategy, it would be nice (and not the one you think of just in the middle of a crisis – the one you design and nurture for some time when times are good, forecasting maybe when times will be bad).

In fact Sheffi’s other publications are well worth reading (and could have been the source of inspiration for a group presentation if discovered earlier – a hint for next year students? ;-)).

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Resuming operations

For someone who refused to accept the “no time” excuse in the past for not writing a blog, I have to admit I’ll have to use it now :-( Lots of things happened since last time I wrote about classes.

For instance we submitted our Statistics paper and got the results. These results are still composed of a grade from A to F (and as I wrote I will not post the grade distribution of the class) and an appreciation from the professor. If this appreciation was considered subjective in the previous years (independently of Statistics – this was valid for all courses), Vlerick tried to establish a grid where several criteria can be met or not in order to put some objectivity in the grade. It seems this grid disappeared – or at least it was not used for Statistics (as usual: it is not a complain, it’s just an observation).

Operation management classes ended with a bang materialised by 5 Pecha-Kucha group presentations. Some topics were more controversial than others. I also take as a key message that one absolutely has to test the presentation in a real setting before presenting. I personally also appreciated very much the very dynamic presentation of Roger Bloemen about the global supply chain strategy for Saflex at Solutia. IMHO this is the kind of presentation after which you tell yourself: “Damn! Maybe I should have done supply chain instead of ****** *********”.

remember to thank all the books you haven't read over the past three yearsSome other classes ended like EU business law (also with group presentation) or Communication Skills (maybe the most artistic “paper” we had to hand in – maybe the most confusing directions on what to do too, especially for people with scientific and engineering backgrounds).

And some other courses started. Like Innovation Management, EU integration, … An feeling that I have is that Vlerick has very young and dynamic professors. When they grow a bit older, they are less dynamic but very knowledgable and try to transmit their passion with more maturity. A third category of professors are older and teach us courses with less direct application (or do I have this feeling because I put Economics and EU professors in this category?).

We are now in December and there are still some nice milestones for the near future: an open-book exam for Operations, a video for Communication Skills. And then Christmas Party (for those who will attend) and holidays!

Photo credits: remember to thank all the books you haven’t read over the past three years by Natalia Osiatynska, under CC-by-nc-nd.

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