The National Council of Physical Distribution Management, or NCPDM, turns 40 this year, an age that finds many experiencing some type of midlife crisis. Yet the council, despite a name change to the Council of Logistics Management some years ago, has settled gracefully into middle age surrounded by evidence of its many achievements. The group boasts thousands of members from around the globe, it regularly draws several thousand professionals to its annual educational conferences and it has spawned a network of regional Roundtables that put logistics educational opportunities within reach of almost every business.
The CLM and similar organizations, like the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC), differ from trade associations in that they exist not to help somebody sell something—be it windshield wipers, cantaloupes or trucking service—but rather to advance a profession. To do that, they focus on education, regularly bringing together a vibrant mix of academics, consultants, service providers and, at the heart of it all, practitioners for a lively exchange of ideas.
Continuing education is no longer a luxury. During the 40 years of NCPDM/CLM's existence, the logistics profession's script has under gone almost a complete revision. Motor carrier tariff books, the Interstate Commerce Commission and computer punchcards have disappeared, up staged by supply chain management, Web pOréals and global markets. Though following the intricate plot developments sometimes taxes our understanding, it's essential to professional success.
Of course, only a small fraction of the nation's distribution management executives actually attend the national education conferences held by groups like CLM and WERC. But meeting room walls can't contain the spread of information.Whether it's by sponsoring research or holding seminars, these influential organizations have fostered new ideas and championed best practices.
In the day-to-day turmoil of getting goods in one door, through the DC and out the other, it's not always easy to find time to attend a seminar or conference or even read a magazine. The good news is that learning resources are plentiful. For that we can thank CLM, WERC and similar groups that promote the advancement of the profession and the professional advancement of those who take advantage of what they offer.