F4SS CI Connect 2016 – Key Learnings & Takeaways


Another inspiring, educational, and eye-opening CI Connect event with the F4SS! Click to read the key learnings and takeaways that F4SS member Brandon Viar shared.

This time around we got to visit the home of Blues music and hub for one of the largest shipping companies in the world, FedEx! The sessions were generally focused on the CI and quality management programs created/used by FedEx and the event was capped off with an overnight tour of the shipping giant’s Memphis logistics center. All of us (big or small, customer or supplier) were deeply impressed with how the teams at FedEx can land, unload, sort, reload , and take off 90 planes and almost 2 million packages every night. The coordination and systems required to pull off this impressive nightly feat were surprisingly not “over-technical”. Packages are certainly scanned numerous times and lead down miles and miles of conveyors so they can be loaded on the proper plane, but the people and standard work systems in place to pull it off were the highlight for me.

Outside of the tour, attendees were granted unprecedented access to the leaders and internal programs of FedEx to understand how they drive Continuous Improvement and deliver a consistent quality customer experience. FedEx’s QDM program is well planned and well executed. Given the size of the employee base, I was very impressed with how they have driven engagement throughout the organization and truly made the “Purple Promise” a part of everything they do. It was very motivating to me to learn of their missteps and do-overs and what they learned from each. When implementing a CI program mistakes will happen. Even for companies as impressive as FedEx. The key is what you learn and how you apply those learnings to continue forward.

This year we also heard the tales of International Paper’s international (pun intended) journey with CI. The team from IP showed the group how standard processes and a standard production system can be implemented across the globe. In any language, in any culture. On day 1 we played a fun and eye-opening Supply Chain Simulation that painfully revealed the Bullwhip Effect and its impact on supply chains. A room full of 75+ supply chain professionals failed miserably at executing a simple one-product supply chain. We may have failed (miserably) but the key takeaways were driven home clearly: communicate, remove complexity, think of the whole chain.

Not to be undersold were the amazing networking opportunities. As always I made new pier contacts, new business opportunity contacts, and caught up with a few F4SS friends. Not to mention noshed on some good ole’ fashioned Memphis BBQ!

This year we brought of Sr. Director of Logistics along with us for the trip. It was his first F4SS CI Connect event. As we were waiting for our Uber car back to the airport he turned to me and said: “Brandon – I feel reenergized! This was amazing and exactly what I needed”. I’d say that is the perfect testament of another home run F4SS CI Connect event.

Did you attend this year’s CI Connect event? Share your key learnings and takeaways in the comments section below.

Lauren Wilson


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