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#38 How to Achieve Excellence in Supply Chain Operations with George Hodgson.

Proudly brought to you in association with S A Partners, a world-leading business transformation consultancy.


George Hodgson, Vice President of the Supply Chain and Logistics Association of Australia.

My guest George Hodgson is passionate about achieving excellence within Supply Chains. He has worked with organisations such as the Royal Australian Air Force, Army, and the United Nations. George is the Vice President of the Supply Chain and Logistics Association of Australia.


How the Air Force helped develop Lean and Agile Thinking

George's first degree in Information Technology did not truly motivate him, and he discovered writing code did not suit him. He quickly opened a business in Mazda rotor parts and gained experience over 18 months in warehousing, stock control and procurement. But as a 20-year-old, he found running his own business tough and wanted to learn more about running a business. A friend in the Air Force inspired him to re-connect with his interest in Defence, and George went along to recruitment with his skill set. Recruitment told George that he would be well suited to becoming a Supply Officer. The role offered a combination of his small business skills and IT. He moved to Darwin, Australia, for his first job. He was responsible for the warehousing, procurement, governance, and stock control for the entire International RAAF base.

How the Air Force helped develop Lean and Agile Thinking

George began questioning the old mentality of the site, "If it works and no-on is complaining, why should we improve?" He wanted to make improvements. Lean and Agile featured, which prompted him to enrol in Logistics Management at RMIT.

Boeing provided induction training for George and highlighted how to apply six sigma and lean thinking to a process to get buy-in. They used paper aeroplane building to demonstrate the process. The inductees were asked to build one paper plane and then another ten planes in one minute. Of course, they failed. After the training, they were set the task again, and this time they succeeded. The group were amazed and rallied together. George saw that with some practical training, ability increased, and people bought into the process. So, it essential to have leaders and people onboard; feeling empowered and practical training can help.

Australian Bush Fires
George is the Queensland Liaison Officer at National Recovery and Resilience Agency

How Lean thinking creates a win-win

In government and supply chains, resources rarely increase, but capacity certainly does. This situation could be seen as a negative and potentially destroy a culture with overburden. But if you can rally that culture and help everyone understand the win-win. Rather than burn out, they can improve their process with Lean thinking: removing waste and increasing flow. Capacity naturally lifts, and stress reduces. People become more accustomed to looking for ways to see and implement improvements-a culture of continuous improvement results. Employees create more time to take pressure off and improve safety, and Leaders achieve results.

The three steps on how to begin a continuous improvement journey.

1. Research - read and discover the latest thinking and trends that apply to your industry and role.

2. Find a champion or mentor who can support you and act as a soundboard.

3. Embrace change - adopt a mindset of continual change.

Supply Chain & Logistics Association of Australia (SCLAA) networking event at HERE Technologies

Key Takeaways

1. Connecting the wins between employees and leaders reduces work pressure, improves safe and quality of work produced.

Take away number one is about helping front line employees and leaders connect the wins. In government and many supply chain environments, there is a clear aligned win. Continuously improving to help front line employees reduce work pressure, improve safety and quality of work. Whenever people are overburdened in environments like these quality and safety outcomes are not good. Helping teams in resource-scarce environments develop skills in continuous improvement to eliminate waste and help themselves as well as customers is amazing. The leaders in these environments gain the benefit of less pressure as well as improved results.

2. Training practically and coaching helps develop capability in continuous improvement.

The second key takeaway train practically is a great approach. Giving people the training and then some ongoing coaching to help them develop capability in a few key continuous improvement approaches is quite simple. It does not take a lot of time and, when delivered practically helps people bridge the knowing-doing gap quickly and achieving results.

Thanks again for your time and knowledge George, we really appreciate it. Bye for now.


07:52min So when you actually apply lean thinking or six sigma to a process, and people can actually see the benefit of doing that, they're just empowered. They go, "This is amazing". So, certainly empowerment of the people who are part of that process. You need to get buy-in from management. And they need to understand why you're going down this path and how it's actually going to add value. And then once you do that, I think the results speak for themselves.

09:41min So, once you've inducted that culture at the start, it's very easy to tell people, "You're now part of an organisation that promotes Lean thinking", and people start to think big picture, blue sky, how can we improve things?

12:14min People can actually start to question and go, Why do we do that? How does that add value? Let's take that away and see how that's going to improve. And the beauty of lean thinking, you know, you can do a Kaizen activity. You can do it instantaneously. You know, you start in the morning, by the afternoon you have a new process that you've implemented. Extremely powerful.

20:23min And I think the key thing is that change is continuous. There's a lot of people out there that go; I don't want to change. I don't want to jump on that bus to change. I don't like change. Well, instead, I'd say pivot it, change it in your philosophy and mindset to go, change is actually good. Embrace change.



Brad is proud to support many Australian businesses. You can find him on LinkedIn here. If you’d like to speak to him about how he can help your business, call him on 0402 448 445, or email Our website is


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