#78: In Supply Chain Design, Fun is Not Optional, Fun is Required

#78: In Supply Chain Design, Fun is Not Optional, Fun is Required Featured Image

I had a great conversation with Donald Hicks, CEO and Founder of Optilogic. He had such a wonderful career journey as a leader in his field. He shared in our conversation how a talk from a college student back when he was young inspired him to pursue a career as an Operations Research Systems Engineer. We also dived into his time with Llamasoft, buying a bar and finally starting Optilogic. 

On building Optilogic, he shared how they pivoted into supply chain design, creating a unique solution during that period. We also dived into one of their off-the-shelf app called Cosmic Frog. As I found the names for LLamasoft and Cosmic Frog unique, I couldn’t help but ask the origin of the names, which Don enthusiastically shared with me. He also shared why fun is a must in supply chain design. One of the most important elements for Don is people and team, sharing their team dynamic in Optilogic and how they complement each other as a team. 

As the conversation continued, we dived into Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow, discussing the benefits of adapting the method to the supply chain. Don compared the supply chain to Air Force One 747- an interesting analogy. He also gave a few pieces of advice on how to keep supply chains alive in an ever-changing environment. Don shared what he would change in the supply chain dynamic if given a magic wand, specifically in the leadership end. We did not have a chance to discuss AI and Machine Learning, but Don shared a quick peak of their upcoming product, Leap Frog.

Listen to the full discussion here:

  • Stream by clicking here.
  • Download as an MP3 here.



Connect with the Guest:

Donald A. (Don) Hicks is the CEO and founder of Optilogic, the new leader in supply chain design. Don’s passion for software technology development and applying scientific and engineering methods to solve complex supply chain problems has made an indelible impact in the software industry and companies worldwide. He is best known for founding LLamasoft, a supply chain modeling, optimization, and analytics solution in 1998, which later sold for $1.5 billion. In 2015, while CEO of LLamasoft, Don led the acquisition of Barloworld’s Supply Chain Software Division and IBM’s LogicTools supply chain applications business unit.


Questions I Asked:

  • Can you share with us some of the milestones you had in your career so far?
  • What is the significance of LLama in LLamasoft? And why did you choose the name Cosmic Frog?
  • Can you give us an example where one of your clients applied the design thinking strategy and had a great outcome after?
  •  If you could change one thing in the way supply chain professionals act or think, what would that one thing be? And why?

Show notes:

  • [01:24] Maybe you can guide us through a few of the milestones that you’ve been through and what you’ve been doing so far.
  • [04:08] “I really wanted to make a focused simulation on logistics problems, specifically the emerging term of supply chain.”
  • [08:12] “When I got Optilogic going, it was specifically to enable OR (Operations Research) Developers to make cool and interesting new formulations using optimization, simulation, or combinations and then have an API layer around it that would solve the deployment problem.”
  • [16:44] “I think everybody’s got talent. But the question is, how do you get a group of people to get their talents aligned?”
  • [18:57] I was curious about why LLamasoft. Why the LLama part, and why Cosmic Frog?
  • [23:38] “In supply chain design, fun is not actually sort of optional. Fun is required.” 
  • [29:01] Can you talk about this type of thinking fast and slow in supply chain? And maybe also give us a remarkable situation or example where one of your clients applied this and had a great outcome.
  • [34:07] “A supply chain is a complex system. It’s like the Air Force One 747, it’s always flying, it’s always out there. You rarely get a chance to land your 747 and then just repair it.” 
  • [41:18] “The people who are planning these supply chains are often the guys that should be working on design projects. But I beg executives to not take a planner and tell them to also do design at the same time.”
  • [44:00] If you could change one thing in the way of acting or thinking of the supply chain executives or anybody working in supply chain, what would that one thing be? And why?
  • [46:35] “If I could wave my magic wand, I would create a proper compensation strategy that would say, “the decisions I make now in the short term, I’m going to be rewarded based on how my company does in the long term,” we don’t really know how to do that very well. And if I could wave my wand, I would create that system.”

Quote from the Episode:

About the Host:

A lively conversation full of excitement and energy with Donald Hicks! I am your host, Andrei Palamariu, Head of Innovation at Alcott Global and Founder at Supplify. At Supplify, we are working on building a platform to connect the supply chain tech ecosystem. We match corporations with top tech companies to solve their supply chain and logistics challenges. If there is anything tech in the supply chain, reach out to me.

Alcott Global provides Executive Search Solutions for key positions at all pillars of the end-to-end value chain: planning, procurement, manufacturing, logistics, e-commerce, and overall supply chain operations.

After a successful event in Singapore last April 18, we are excited to meet everyone in Zurich on May 16 at the Makers & Movers face-to-face event. We bring together value chain executives to connect, collaborate, and innovate—a forum focused on business value creation.

The case study submission for the Leaders in Supply Chain Awards has started and will end on May 31st. We look forward to celebrating and awarding the Top 30 Leaders in Supply Chain of 2024 for their achievements in digitizing operations, decarbonization, sustainability, and creating a diverse and equitable environment for supply chain teams to thrive and excel.

Related Episodes:

#75: Anticipate and Act – the new norm in Supply Chain

#76: Exploring the Impact of Transformative Tech in India’s Logistics

#77: Embracing Resiliency and Eliminating Supply Chain Risks




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