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Harvard Business Review on Managing Supply Chains by Harvard Business Review

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Leading a Supply Chain Turnaround

by Reuben E. Slone

THINGS WOULD BE VERY DIFFERENT TODAY—for me, my colleagues, and my company—if the votes of Whirlpool’s North American leadership team had swung in a different direction on May 3, 2001. It was a move I hadn’t expected; Mike Todman, our executive vice president at the time, decided to go around the table and ask each member of his staff for a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on the investment that Paul Dittmann and I had just formally proposed. Did I look worried? I can’t imagine I didn’t, even though we’d spent hours in individual meetings with each of them, getting their ideas and buy-in. We thought we had everyone’s support. But the facts remained: Our proposal had a bigger price tag than any supply ...

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