What does it take for supply chains - as a whole - to progress? A lot, that’s for sure, but among the more specific items, I would say a vibrant online community. Two decades ago, as a teenager, I discovered the Joel On Software Forum (now defunct) and found there an incredible community to enter the realm of the software business. Learning about programming, that part was covered already but learning to think like the owner of a software business, that was something else entirely. What I learned through this forum proved invaluable later on while running Lokad.

A screenshot of a pre-release version of news.lokad.com

Yet, on the supply chain side, the story is very different. To date, I still do not know of any online community around supply chain that is anywhere as informative and vibrant as those forums used to be for software. This lack of access to supply chain insights complicated my own journey in this realm a lot. Everything of substance I know about supply chains, I had to learn one client at a time, frequently one NDA at time. Of all the obstacles I faced in my journey, the opacity of supply chains proved time and again the most challenging aspect.

Supply chain has quite an abundant literature, mostly produced by academics and consultants. I read a lot, yet the sum total of all the book-derived supply chain insights I gathered over a decade and a half is somewhat underwhelming. Books and papers are imperfect substitute for intelligent discussions with peers.

Thus, I rolled my own board1: news.lokad.com

My ambition is to create a vibrant online community for supply chain-minded people. No terms to accept, no forced login, no ads, no monetization plan, just a plain discussion text-based board, with a voting system to let the most interesting contributions surface.

This board is dedicated to supply chain enthusiasts2. The guidelines clarify what to submit:

On-Topic: Anything that a good supply chain practitioner would find interesting. That includes more than safety stocks and service levels. If you had to reduce it to one sentence: anything that gratifies a curious supply chain-minded person.

Off-Topic: Most stories about politics, or crime, or sports - unless they are precisely having an impact on supply chains. Vague self-help, funny videos, or cute animal pictures. If it gets thousands of likes on LinkedIn, it’s probably off-topic.

Give it a try!

Annex: Survey of the alternatives

LinkedIn: Anything and everything. Hardly supply chain focused. The groups that focus on supply chain are filled with hundreds of low-quality posts per day that advertise everything a supply chain division may ever buy, employ, or rent. Discussions do happen, but they end up being lost amidst less relevant content. Finally, everything posted on LinkedIn essentially disappears after a week or two. Once it’s gone from your feed, it’s basically gone forever. No search engine will save you.

Reddit (the /r/supplychain group): The opposite of LinkedIn, and endless stream of elementary questions (what are my prospects in supply chain?). The moderators aggressively purge anything linking outside. Posts about my supply chain lectures have been systematically purged. Also, Reddit is a complete mess for any coherent discussion.

Quora (the supplychainmanagement.quora.com space): An intermediate between LinkedIn and Reddit. Unfortunately, the Q&A format (questions & answers) is restrictive and does not lend itself much to interesting discussions. Furthermore, the website suffers from the same bloat that plagues both LinkedIn and Reddit.

  1. This forum is heavily inspired by Hacker News↩︎

  2. Lokad’s competitors are welcome too. The ranking system does not boost Lokad-related posts or comments. ↩︎