Last week, based on the content of the book Bricks Matter, Supply Chain Insights rolled out our first public training class. The class’ focus is to help supply chain professionals understand the evolution of supply chain excellence, and the building of outside-in processes. In the class, we benchmark the companies’ financial performance against peer groups and discuss the concepts of making trade-offs on the Supply Chain Effective Frontier. (For more on this concept, reference the Supply Chain Insights report, Conquering the Supply Chain Effective Frontier ) We try to help companies make these two concepts actionable through a series of experiential activities. At the end of the class, after the completion of the activities, we had some time to talk as a group. I was asked two very good questions that I thought I would answer here in this blog post.
We had just finished the training on supply chain talent (see the infographic below), when I was asked these questions:
- Based on the research, what makes a great supply chain leader?
- And, conversely, what characteristics should we look for in new demand or supply planner employees?
First, let’s start with the obvious. When it comes to supply chain excellence, there is no substitute for leadership. In fact, we find an inverse correlation between companies that have depended intensively on third-party process consulting assistance and peer group rankings on the Supply Chain Effective Frontier. The best results happen when there has been consistency in leadership that built supply chain potential and focused on improving flexibility and balance. So, as a group, we brainstormed the answer to these two questions.
What characteristics make a great supply chain leader?
- Focus and discipline. Consistency of purpose. (This leader does not get swayed by fads.)
- Ability to manage a broad scope of work. A great leader has the ability to think from the customer’s customer to the supplier’s supplier.
- Builds supply chain talent. Works to set direction, share feedback and mentor employees.
- Holistic thinker. Understands the trade-offs of the supply chain as a complex system and can help influence organizational leaders on how to orchestrate change.
- Takes a long-term view. Understands that supply chain transformations take time. Builds potential and has patience.
What characteristics make a great planner?
Similarly, a great planner in the organization has similar skills. While the role in the organization may be more junior, they have complementary skill sets.
- Systems thinker. The group agreed that there was no substitute for this type of thinking.
- Ability to anticipate. Knows the business. Understands and anticipates cause and effect. If something happens, this individual understands the potential impacts and works to correct them before they become an issue.
- Analytical. Quickly recognizes and interprets patterns in data. Sees market trends and translates them for the organization.
- Influence skills. Has the ability to explain and share data to drive organizational alignment.
What do you think? Are we close? Do you agree that these are critical skills?
As talent issues increase, finding these skills will become more difficult. Let us know what you think of the latest infographic that we have built to help companies start to take this issue more seriously.