In any area, across domains of activity, from farming to aerospace, cosmetics to mechanics, innovation should be part of the companies’ DNA. In some instances developments are forced, however for some companies it is a logical and a natural path. This concerns startup companies as well as established companies who have many years of existence and for these in particular, the challenge of maintaining an identity while moving forward is very important. During the last few years the rhythm of the digital transformation has increased and it impacts greatly upon the Supply Chain world. There are more pressing demands from customers, accrued procurement complexity as well as the new technologies such as Artificial intelligence, Blockchain, Collaborative Platforms, IoT, Machine Learning, etc.
Inevitably, the need for Supply Chain players to transform and stay abreast of technology evolutions has consequences on the transformation of in-house practices. Of course the globalization of the Supply Chain world plays a big part in the changes if only to maintain a focus on innovation and a competitive advantage.
These business advances can also impact the transactions with the suppliers and the customers as well as the function of employees. The globalisation has already meant that English as a language is a must have for the latter. The vast majority of products are indeed manufactured in a country different from the ones they are consumed and for years now English is the language most commonly used.
Whenever there is a business transformation, a change management phase should take place to accompany individual contributors. Aside from that measure, a number of employees can be trained for example on the S&OP process, on DDMRP – editors will have some members of their workforce certified on Demand Driven MRP – on the APICS offering or some other certifications linked to specific industries.
Alongside the need that remains vital for Supply Chain employees to understand how Supply Chain works and the role of SCM in the organisation, these educational opportunities can form the foundation of the company’s operational requirements.
But what does Innovation mean for the employees? It is no longer sufficient to simply be reactive and to take decisions on the basis of some Excel spreadsheets. As a company’s business processes evolve so too does the tools at the employees’ disposal. These enable the workforce to free up some time to study the industry evolution they work in, to analyse and understand the latest best practices and those key components. So, business related skills are extremely important just as Adaptability, Curiosity and Flexibility are needed by the Supply Chain professionals. Good communication with active listening and relationship-building skills are essential. Otherwise how does one engage in an efficient S&OP? There are many, many more important skills that can be listed. However there is one – or rather a little ingredient – that should not be ignored. It is perhaps more commonly associated with the worlds of Arts, Crafts, Fashion, Marketing and other similar industries…
That is CREATIVITY.
Clearly not something acquired through strict academic channels. And yet it’s the element that can make THE difference. It can make an employee, a team, a functional area shine out there. It’s INSPIRING. It can bring the dynamic around a project and boost confidence. It can support maintaining a company’s identity. It generates discussions on how, what, who, when? Even if at first creativity gets associated to the words “It’s Crazy, unfeasible”,” It makes no sense”, “Come on, get real!” it leads directly or indirectly to INNOVATION which creates the difference and participates to making a company successful. In our fast evolving world, companies need to stay business focused with everything it implies while nurturing its people’s creative mindset by facilitating collaboration, teamwork, intellectual emulation. This forms the cement of the Team of Tomorrow.