Show Them They Can Fly: Changing Mindsets About Supply Chain Management

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I recently had the opportunity to hear our CEO John Sicard talk about the challenges supply chain software providers such as Kinaxis face when demonstrating to businesses the value in updating their supply chain management practices. It likely doesn’t come as any big shock to most of you that a lot of times, organizations are resistant to change. Very resistant. It seems like it’s just a basic part of human nature. Unfortunately, in the case of supply chains, desperately trying to hold on to antiquated practices like relying solely on spreadsheets and spending countless hours attempting to build the perfect plan are doing more harm than good. In fact, they could be contributing factors in why a supply chain isn’t yielding positive results when it comes to key performance indicators (KPIs). Innovation and evolution are part of growth. That’s a concept we firmly believe in here at Kinaxis and has been one of the driving factors behind our RapidResponse® solution. Since this isn’t a sales pitch, I won’t go into details about how we’re challenging the norm when it comes to traditional supply chain management practices. Suffice to say, it’s pretty mind blowing how game changing it has been for our customers (you can learn more here). But since it’s human nature to resist change, how then do you convince the decision makers at a company it’s time to try something new? Simple. You show them they can fly! John explained it like this. When the Wright Brothers set about to convince people that man could in fact take flight, the skepticism they faced was plentiful. Sure, everyone knew what flight was – birds did it all the time – but only a precious few could wrap their heads around how a human could accomplish something similar. Even with diagrams, prototypes, and exhaustive explanations, it still took several successful test flights before the majority of people started to believe. We face a similar challenge. Businesses want to see with their own eyes the positive impact on their supply chain before they commit to embracing any sort of change. So we found a way to show them. Using their own data to provide a proof of concept, we let them see how they can really soar! But changing mindsets about supply chain management, or any other field for that matter, isn’t just as simple as seeing is believing. The first step is actually creating that revolutionary new way of doing something. You have to build the better mousetrap. Surprisingly, that’s often the easiest step. Once it’s built, you then have to convince someone to take that first leap of faith and keep an open mind about the possibilities you’re offering. Finding that one unique individual, or champion of change as I like to refer to them, takes time and effort, but without them, getting to that final step is a longer and more arduous journey. When you finally do reach the seeing is believing phase, very rarely is it a one and done type of situation. Sure you can fly across a corn field, but what about across a state, a country, an ocean, around the world? In supply chain management terms, that means continually demonstrating you can adapt to the complex, unique, and often varied challenges each industry vertical faces. What works for the manufacturing industry may not translate into the pharmaceutical business. Where one customer needs help with supplier collaboration, another may want to focus on inventory management. The key is to show them the whole picture as it relates to their supply chain management practices. Illuminate for them how interconnected their siloed processes really are, and explore with them solutions to overcome their company’s individual obstacles. It’s a slow process – changing the minds of one person at a time – but once you start to gain momentum, the idea that supply chains don’t need to be stuck in the dark ages just seems to snowball. Then the next thing you know, everyone wants to fly!

What difficulties have you faced in trying to change the mindset of others when it comes to outdated supply chain management practices? Let me know in the comment area.

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