by Hau L. Lee

During the past decade and a half, I’ve studied
from the inside more than 60 leading companies that focused on building and rebuilding
supply chains to deliver goods and services to
consumers as quickly and inexpensively as
possible. Those firms invested in state-of-theart technologies, and when that proved to be
inadequate, they hired top-notch talent to
boost supply chain performance. Many companies also teamed up to streamline processes,
lay down technical standards, and invest in infrastructure they could share. For instance, in
the early 1990s, American apparel companies
started a Quick Response initiative, grocery
companies in Europe and the United States
touted a program called Efficient Consumer
Response, and the U.S. food service industry
embarked on an Efficient Foodservice Response program.

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