The 8th M for Supply Chain Success

In the competitive world of business, every organization is seeking an edge—a catchy marketing phrase, an innovative product launch, improvements in efficiency and productivity—something to create a little separation to provide that illusive competitive advantage.

Companies with a strong Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) program constantly use analytics to evaluate their processes to ensure maximum efficiency is being achieved. Supply Chain is ideal for quantitative analysis since every link in the life cycle chain from product or service creation to final delivery can be viewed as a discrete step. Many are familiar and use the Cause and Effect analysis tool of 6M. Here, the “M’s” of manpower, machines, materials, method, measurement, and mother nature represent the critical performance categories to monitor and analyze in a business process and these can be evaluated at a very granular level.

Since the creation of 6M, a universally accepted 7th “M” representing “Money” has been added to the variables to consider. Each discrete task can be measured for its cost and subsequent value-add it provides.


There’s still something missing. What about team performance? Maximizing the efficiency of individual components or categories (7M) within a business process doesn’t always translate to an optimized whole. It is system performance that’s key.

To evaluate this, we’ll need a new category to consider—the 8th M: Mission. Mission is the evaluation and optimization of holistic system performance. It considers the synergistic “team” aspect of the overall structure. As opposed to individual optimization, all the M’s are collectively synchronized to produce at the optimum system level in terms of quality, cost, and speed. In most cases, the M of manpower will provide your greatest variance, challenge, and opportunity for improvement. Specifically, are your workers aware of your company mission and do they perform with a sense of esprit de corps?

We’re all familiar with the saying of “…being greater than the sum of one’s parts.” In sports we recall the superior individual talent of the 2004 US Olympic men’s basketball squad not winning the Gold medal because they were not the best team. Vegas oddsmakers, where the 7th M of Money is their raison d’être, are certainly aware of this concept and incorporate this into their pricing (points spread) model. A home field or home court advantage is calculated and yes, there is the “Mother Nature” benefit of familiarity, but it’s the energy effect of fan encouragement to their team that adds the greater value.

In warfare, the importance of Mission cannot be understated as the outcome of a multitude of battles will attest. Sun Tzu advised, “He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.”

Companies that teach their mission throughout the organization and frame it within the larger context of its positive contribution to society give a higher sense of purpose to its members. A mission-oriented set of employees sees the bigger picture and can buy-in to the company vision. This will enrich employee morale and motivation which improves the workplace environment and increases overall performance. It benefits both employer and employee.

Considering adding the “M” of Mission into your corporate evaluation metrics. It may give you the winning edge.

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