2017 – The year of learning

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Education and training – What’s the difference?

For anyone in supply chain, 2016 was an exciting and challenging year. Hot topics included advanced analytics, Internet of Things, 3D printing and robotics. Drop in all the global, economic, political and environmental challenges into the conversation and the changes needed to make supply chains survive and thrive in the future became front and center at all the top supply chain events. At the Gartner supply chain conference back in May the theme was the “bimodal” supply chain. What exactly is bi-modal? Gartner describes it as running two modes within your supply chain simultaneously. Mode one focuses on managing day-to-day operations; mode two is all about making the breakthrough innovations needed to take on the new challenges facing supply chains.

Taking a bi-modal approach to learning

I recently sat in on a webinar that discussed learning options, subscriptions and how you can revolutionize the way your organization learns. At the heart of the webinar was how to drive maximum value from a technology investment, in this case RapidResponse. My thoughts though went back to the Gartner conference and the bimodal strategy. Perhaps organizations should take the same bimodal approach to learning as Gartner suggests for supply chain management. In this case the two modes would be education and training. A number of years ago I was in a session with a client when someone asked, “What’s the difference between education and training?” As I was about to explain the difference as being the “why” versus the “how,” one of our clients more eloquently painted this picture; “Think of it this way, would you rather have your 16-year-old daughter receive sex education or sex training?” I didn’t need to explain any further. For supply chain organizations, there is a need to continually educate their employees on new technologies and gain an understanding on how these technologies might impact their business. If companies decide to implement new processes and supply chain technologies to keep up with the shifting supply chain realities, they’ll also need the training required to implement fast and extract value as soon as possible.

The supply chain learning journey

There are several great sources that provide valuable insights into emerging trends and technologies. Gartner, SCM World and Supply Chain Insights are all organizations that study supply chain and help companies stay informed. The analysts provide valuable direction in keeping supply chains competitive with direct consults and best practices. These groups can steer your education plans so that gaining knowledge becomes a way of life and not just a once a year trip to a conference. When it comes time to take action it must be swift and any learnings put into play – whether it’s building on success or moving on from failure. This is where the training comes in. For example, if it’s determined that your next step to supply chain excellence is the deployment of a new software platform, best-in-class training programs will ensure all those involved are getting timely training in order to maximize value. In the webinar I mentioned on learning subscriptions, all of the training was based on the user’s role. The facilitator described five distinct roles:

  • Consumer
  • Contributor
  • Author
  • Administrator
  • Expert

Each role had a specific training path and there were several ways to consume materials, including recordings, instructor-led online and self-paced. All learning could be done over time and revisited if the learner needed to refresh on a particular topic. This ensures everyone receives the level of training they need, in a way that makes it easy to learn and in time to drive value. The faster you understand all the capabilities of a system, the more creative your organization can become in addressing challenges and changing processes that allow you to thrive in the face of disruption. Part of creating an environment that’s attractive includes one that fosters education and training. You’ve all heard the expression “knowledge is power.” With everything supply chains are staring at in 2017, knowledge will certainly equal power and value. What approach does your company take on continued learning? Let us know in the comments below. For more information on training roles and paths for the Kinaxis community visit: www.kinaxis.com/training-paths

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