Six Degrees of Separation in your Supply Chain

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In our digitally connected world – information is easy to access, available on demand, and of varying levels of quality and veracity. While being connected means it might be difficult to escape the latest zeitgeist, it also means that you are aware of your current context and fragments of the world around it. And, if you want to step out of what you passively receive – you can actively chase down countless threads of inquiry to learn more. Integrated supply chains take advantage of these multi-threaded inquiry patterns by coordinating across supply chain functions, however, how interconnected is communication in your processes? Can you reach across your supply chain to achieve diverse and innovative solutions in just six steps or less? One way to enhance your communication channels is to engage in group problem-solving. Yes, you might do that currently across teams; you might even engage external stakeholders such as suppliers or distributors when resolving a shipping challenge or similar issue. To truly integrate communication across your supply chain, consider involving both internal and external stakeholders at other stages—not just when there’s a problem to resolve. For example, engaging a supplier in prototype design can ensure a more effective and feasible design with a tighter price point. Or involving marketing at the production stage can provide them with a better understanding on the product’s strengths and thereby help them to improve their messaging to customers. With differing experiences, knowledge, and points of view—these fully integrated teams can synthesize novel solutions and initiatives that might not have been born in isolation. Another way to improve communication across your supply chain is establish parallel views of data and real-time communication for stakeholders. When everyone is looking at the same data at the same time, they’re all at the same starting line together. Less time is spent on clarification and more time can be spent on picking apart the issue, proposing solutions, and synchronizing strategies. A third way to weave communication tighter into an integrated supply chain is to actively collect and catalogue tribal knowledge. This encourages free information flow while at the same time assuring that the knowledge is readily available outside of any silos and that it can be used as an effective learning tool for your organization. What do you believe? Can six degrees of separation in your supply chain be six or fewer steps away from one another in an interconnected chain? Is it achievable with strong and targeted sets of communication channels?

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