Daily Archives: March 30, 2008

Where are all the (Supply Chain) Leaders?

Get offa me!
Away from me!
Get me outa here!
Don’t follow me!
Don’t bother me!
I’m no leader.
¬†¬†from “Leader” on “Essentially Naked” by Bif Naked

In his latest article (Supply Management Transformation: A Leader’s Guide), Robert Rudzki of Transformation Leadership and Greybeard Advisors notes that he likes to ask two questions when presenting at a conference: “Do you believe that most senior executives around the world understand the enormous potential of modern supply management?” and “Do you believe that those same executives understand how to achieve that enormous potential – how to build the transformation roadmap?”. He also notes that while 10% of the audience – at best – might raise their hands for the first question, there will be no hands raised after the second is asked. I have to say I’m not surprised.

This is unfortunate because you need a strong leader in place to not only achieve a supply management transformation, but to communicate the benefits of such a transformation to the senior executive team. This person must be willing to advocate change and put her neck on the line. She’ll need to develop a bold vision with stretch objectives that relate to the primary interests – namely ROIC (Return on Invested Capital) and ROE (Return on Equity) – of the executive team. Furthermore, she’ll also need to lay out a specific transformation plan and roadmap with concrete milestones and construct a business case that offers a performance commitment in exchange for the executive support needed to make it happen.

Furthermore, the “transformation” she leads must go beyond simply a re-organization of the organizational chart. Although it is true that a poor organizational design can impede success, an organizational design is rarely a driver of success. The quote by Petronius Arbiter, circa 210 BC included by Robert in his article says it all:

We trained hard … but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing , and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.

Finally, the leader must ensure that the interests of all of the key stake-holders and participants are linked to the objectives of the transformation process. It must be part of their performance objectives and part of the criteria used to determine their compensation.

It’s a great article, which is also filled with great information on the six dimensions of successful transformation, drivers of world-class supply management, and successful supply management organizational design.