Article

Leading Supply Chain Transformation

By Stephanie Crowe,
Leading Supply Chain Transformation

Systems in supply chain commerce are intended to achieve great returns in the store, on the warehouse floor, over the transportation network, and across the channels of inventory. And great supply chain commerce software is a true enabler of productivity and return on investment (ROI.) Yet when systems are being implemented, achieving great productivity and improvement gains, most users feel like the change is forced upon them, and most managers are reacting to the change, rather than leading it.

So why would you want to lead change? Why switch from reacting to, or managing a change that’s happening, to leading it? The difference is in the level of power you have over the change, and the impact is in the results. Expecting ‘surprise ROI’ at the end of the project is highly unlikely – ROI requires intention from the beginning, and a thread throughout.

To confirm this point, you have to look to where ROI comes from. Systems can generate ROI. Processes can produce ROI. People can deliver ROI. But it takes leadership to align systems, process and people so that they generate compound ROI across all three – which if done right, can be multipliers.

If you think you are already leading the change, here are some questions to ask yourself to be sure:

  • Are executives, managers and users all aligned and “bought in,” putting their full motivation and effort to a joint outcome?
  • Will everyone be able to perform new functions, in the new way, adeptly, as soon as the change occurs?
  • If asked, would each person impacted by the change be able to clearly articulate the reason for the change?

Systems represent change. But when you add people to the mix, you get what William Bridges refers to as transition. It takes leadership to get people to commit to a transition, to embrace a new way of doing business, and to use a new system effectively. Leading that change means leading people through that transition, and ultimately creating true supply chain transformation. So why lead the change rather than manage it?

Because the true potential is in the fully aligned, multiplier of transformation.

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