Building a Bimodal Supply Chain

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Innovate to survive. It’s a common mantra among businesses these days, driven by the digital revolution and all that entails. It’s changing the way the world works, and how we as consumers interact with it. Your supply chain and S&OP process isn’t immune to the impacts. Keeping up with digitization, big data and the Internet of Things (IoT) requires a supply chain that’s flexible, scalable and adaptable. It requires innovative new processes and approaches to data management. But driving that level of growth can’t be easily achieved if your supply chain is solely focused on efficiency. Doing the same old things won’t yield new results. It’s time to do things differently. The key is running two modes within your supply chain simultaneously. Mode one focuses on maintaining the status quo and managing day-to-day operations. It seeks to reduce overall cost structure. Mode two is all about breakthrough innovations and what’s needed to break into new markets and launch cutting-edge solutions. It focuses on experimentation and driving revolutionary changes in how supply chains adapt to new risks and opportunities. Both modes have value, but you need them independent from one another to achieve success. Innovative new digital initiatives need to run alongside the traditional analog business. You can’t just segregate innovation to an occasional brainstorming meeting. It needs a more significant commitment and requires an investment in new talent, processes and technology. But the good news is, your supply chain likely already has pockets of mode two capability within it. You just need to draw them out, guide them and foster them. As Stan Aronow, Research VP at Gartner, points out, “Building a sustainable Mode 2 capability is about fostering a culture and governance that encourages open thinking and leverages creative talent in a way that balances disruptive innovation with the needs of the business.” Operating a bimodal supply chain is a case of revolutionary new ideas becoming the next incremental evolution of your supply chain. Think of mode two as revolutionary. It is about big, fast changes that can lead to huge rewards. But also to huge risks if the implementation fails. Learning to fail fast is critical in this mode. Mode one is much more evolutionary. Small, incremental steps toward change. You aren’t likely to see a big payoff, but you aren’t going to bankrupt the company in the process either. Interested in finding more about becoming bimodal? Check out our white paper Building a Bimodal Supply Chain, Connecting Supply Chain Efficiency and Growth, which explores how you can turn your supply chain into an innovation machine, while still maintaining the efficiency you’ve already built.

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