Written by 1:03 pm Demand, Supply Chain • One Comment

The Lenovo Way

mickDriving supply chain excellence is easier when companies are clear on the definition. Getting clear is a journey. To help supply chain leaders on this journey, we are conducting interviews. Here we share the perspective of Mick Jones, Vice President for Global Logistics and Supply Chain Strategy, Mick shares these insights. He is coordinating the IBM Supply Chain Integration of the Lenovo Enterprise Server Business Groups. The role’s focus is multi-faceted as he designs and executes a new physical network to support the acquisition.

Jovial and engaging, Mick is a people person that gets things done. He has worked at Lenovo for seven years in a variety of supply chain roles focused on building end-to-end supply chain capabilities. Not a novice, Mick previously worked in senior supply chain roles at DHL and Exel Logistics . (Listen to this podcast to hear his story directly.)

In one-on-one discussions, Mick confides that he lives in the heart of a tiny village in the center of England. When asked about his family, Mick smiles and shares that he has three children. He is then quick to add he also has five chickens, two dogs, two cats, a fish, and a ferret. He loves going fast either on his motorbike or snow skis, but readily admits he is not the person for home decorating or tending the garden.

About Lenovo: Mick’s Perspective

When asked about Lenovo, Mick quickly shares that, “Lenovo is an incredible organization to work for. In my time with the company we grew from being the fifth largest provider of personal computing hardware companies to being one of the top three technology companies in the world. The journey from the initial acquisition of IBM’s PC business in 2005, to our recent acquisitions of IBM’s X86 business and Motorola’s X business, has driven our culture, our style and our structure. “

Mick continues, “It is a unique culture. We designed to effectively combine an organization with roots in the East and the West – the Legend Lenovo business in China and the IBM acquisition in the USA. As you know, both of these organizations played pivotal roles in the start of the personal computer revolution. Our goal was to create a new global culture focused on being the best, and winning in each area and segment where we compete. The design of the culture has been deliberate over the course of the last ten years. I would encourage you to read the new book, out now, titled The Lenovo Way–Managing a Diverse Global Company for Optimal Performance. Yolanda Convers and Gina Qiao wrote the book and it does a great job mapping our journey. It was not easy, but it was worth it. We have built an organization with a commitment to win!

What defines your organization today?

I would say five things:

  1.  The will to win.
  2.  The ability to fail successfully.
  3.  The absolute focus on what is best for Lenovo and the Individual.
  4.  The commitment to own issues and deliverables across the business at all levels.
  5.  A constant focus on innovation at all levels.

These five things are in our DNA,” Mick said proudly.

What is Supply Chain Excellence?

“This brings us to supply chain and the willing culture and the building of supply chain as a core competency. It has been a constant and consistent theme in our culture over the past ten years. We have a strong commitment to do things right,” Mick continued.

“So, when you ask me my definition of supply chain excellence, I think there are several core themes:

1. Customer Centric.  CUSTOMER CENTRIC is paramount. We need to focus and perform to amaze the customer. This includes measuring our performance as the customer measures us, focusing on the customer and delivering what the customer wants. That’s a far more complex process now with new avenues/channels to customers, and the impact of social media on the views of customer sentiment. The speed has changed. The march is to a new drumbeat responding to the reactions of the customer, and addressing negative views quickly  in social media. This is easy to say but difficult to implement.

2. Cost Focused. It is cost focused – it needs to optimize the cost against the Customer Service. The ‘watch-out’ is that this will not be the lowest cost BUT LOWER cost. The pressure is on! The goal is to constantly re-invent ourselves to reduce cost in supply chain operations.

For me, this means that the supply chain must innovate. We need to be the most INNOVATIVE area of any business. It has to look outside of itself for the best benchmarked ideas to bring inside. So for me Benchmarking is not against our other Technology competitors in our industry. Instead, it is constant learning from other industries like AUTOMOTIVE, RETAIL, HEALTHCARE, and FOOD Manufacturing.

3. Delivery of Operational Excellence. Supply chain excellence also means that we have to deliver strong and identifiable OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE programs. There are no excuses. To win, the organization must be the best and the most consistent performing area of the business – not only within the business but within the market. It has to add relative value to the business.

4. Partnering with the Commercial Teams to Add Value. To me that means that we need to see ourselves as a SALES ENGINE and be deeply integrated with Sales across all areas of the business.

5. Right Characteristics. Culture needs to drive delivery. It must be in step with the culture.  For us, it needs to be VISIBLE, FLEXIBLE and AGILE. We need to be able to monitor and measure the progress of orders across the supply chain – this is even more key as we start to look at the Internet of Things and the impact of that on visibility, and track and trace. The last few years have shown us how weather and geophysics can significantly challenge the reliability of the supply chain. Sensing helps us to change quickly and effectively evolve.

6. Best Place to Work. Finally I would say that Excellence in Supply Chain means that it is a place where the best people want to work. I want to create an organization that has the trust of its internal and external customers. This means being the partner of choice across the SC from Logistics to Parts. To me that entails one more thing,  a COLLABORATIVE organization – one that is not afraid to have customers and partners share in the development of ideas and solutions, and consequently in the value delivered.

Focus in 12 Months?

So what do I need to focus on over the next 12 months? The enterprise is a newly formed business unit – with a new network that combines the existing Lenovo network and the assets transferred in the IBM network. Both networks have significant differences in their structures and the way they run. So most of the next 12 months will be around focusing on that integration and creating what I want to see as a world-class network solution as quickly as I possibly can.”

So lastly, LORA, you asked me about my New Year’s Resolutions.  When we first planned this interview they were real New Year’s Resolutions – so let’s make them New Fiscal Year resolutions instead!

Let’s have some fun! Here goes:

  1. I want to avoid the ageing process ……. It is too much trouble to get any older so it is clear that I need to find the secret serum!
  2. My goal is to make the business and the transition the best ever ….. I want to make it something that others want to look at and emulate in the future.  I also want to have fun doing it …… it would be a miserable existence if we couldn’t laugh along the way.
  3. Most importantly, I want to develop some brilliant people.

To me that is what it is all about. Thanks for the interview, I know that it is late. I think that I will go home and avoid my gardening chores and enjoy my family.”

Thanks Mick. We wish you luck, and appreciate the interview. Talking to Mick always brings a smile to my face. Great energy and heart, Mick is a true supply chain leader. The integration of the IBM acquisition is a pivotal transition for Lenovo: two very different cultures in an ever-changing market. It is a big story to cover. At the Supply Chain Insights Global Summit on September 9th and 10th, Anthony Fox of Lenovo will share how Lenovo uses social sentiment data to redefine product portfolios and drive agility. We hope to see you there!


Life is busy at Supply Chain Insights. We are working on the completion of our new game—SCI Impact!—for the public training in Philadelphia in August and the content for the Supply Chain Insights Summit_video_cameraGlobal Summit in September. Our goal is to help supply chain visionaries around the world break the mold and drive higher levels of financial improvement.



About the Author:

Lora in italyLora Cecere is the Founder of Supply Chain Insights. She is trying to redefine the industry analyst model to make it friendlier and more useful for supply chain leaders. Lora has written the books Supply Chain Metrics That Matter and Bricks Matter, and is currently working on her third book, Leadership Matters. She also actively blogs on her Supply Chain Insights website, at the Supply Chain Shaman blog, and for Forbes. When not writing or running her company, Lora is training for a triathlon, taking classes for her DBA degree in research, knitting and quilting for her new granddaughter, and doing tendu (s) and Dégagé (s) to dome her feet for pointe work at the ballet barre. Lora thinks that we are never too old to learn or to push an organization harder to improve performance.