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How to Implement Successful Change Initiatives in Your Supply Chain

June 06, 2019

Contributor: Gloria Omale

Chief supply chain officers should follow 3 steps, including challenging the status quo, to drive change management initiatives in supply chain.

From new product development to servicing new customers, change is one of the few constants in supply chain. Research from Gartner’s 2019 CEO and Senior Executives Survey supports this, with 87% of survey respondents identifying that they expect some form of change to their business model by 2021.

“ The CSCO must ensure that their department understands and is aligned with the vision laid out”

“Take the dynamic retail environment as an example. With sales continuing to shift online and the role of the store being rethought, the constant changes present significant opportunities for chief supply chain officers (CSCOs) to position themselves and the supply chain as critical business partners capable of successfully delivering profitable change initiatives,” says Thomas O’Connor, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner. “However, to implement change, CSCOs need to set their departments up for success.”

O’Connor shares three key steps CSCOs should take to ensure that all levels of the organization are aligned, prepared and capable of delivering effective change that supports business goals.

Step 1: Align the supply chain strategy with the CEO's priorities and communicate your vision and impact across the business

A core responsibility of the CSCO role is driving alignment of the supply chain vision and strategy with the CEO's business objectives. However, defining this vision is only the first phase.

“The CSCO must ensure that their department understands and is aligned with the vision laid out,” says O’Connor. “This is critical, as individual contributors within the supply chain are likely to have a very different view of the supply chain's role than those in more senior positions.”

Additionally, different departments will have different sets of pressures that will influence how they interpret what's important. Link the impact of the supply chain activities with the strategic objective.

Step 2: Challenge the status quo through continuous assessment of the degree your team has adopted and understands the business impact of the change initiative

Implementing a new vision or strategy requires change. Alignment may have been achieved across the organization in terms of the final destination, but it’s common to have differing views on how to get there. For example, senior leadership is more likely to identify that their organization is "change-agile," while middle management and individual contributors see strength in small, continuous improvements.

Assess and determine whether misalignment exists within the organizations by identifying how your company typically handles change and then focus on closing gaps and building capabilities that will enable the organization to become more agile in its approach.

Step 3: Pinpoint critical talent capabilities, pilot an assessment of proficiency levels and implement a roadmap to close gaps

Talent capability gaps can be an obstacle to delivering business impact through change initiatives. Close the capability gaps by driving specific talent development programs that identify current state and set out the steps required to deliver the desired supply chain performance and business impact.

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