What changes a person from unemployable to jobable in the supply chain world?
This article suggests that the answer to this question might be unexpected.
In the supply chain world the marketable skills of today very quickly become constraints to progress, today’s standard operating procedures are tomorrow’s unsafe practices and the earth changing flash of inspiration becomes the norm in no time at all.
Businesses which succeed in this environment are imbued with a special magic which drives them to levels of success far beyond what is predictable from their balance sheets, their products or even the qualifications of their people; in other words the infrastructure, technology, people and processes of those businesses have been combined in a unique way to produce outstanding results.
What does it take to scale that magic to other organisations?
From the human point of view, that magic translates into super competency -- the ability of each team member to add very high levels of value whilst at the same time having the ability to effect change (or at least adapt to it) very quickly.
In these times of massive transition throughout the world, many of which are happening at an exponential rate, there are both tremendous opportunities and feelings of uncertainty. Each team member in the organisation must be able to make sense of all of this
What makes people who are successful in such a world? Certainly, some technical skills are the starting point but even this raises some interesting ideas. For example, we see civil engineers morphing into extremely successful end to end supply chain solutions developers and lawyers transforming into credible business development managers.
Both academic and occupational institutions seem unable to satisfy these demands – employers complain that academic graduates can’t apply theory to practical problems and that that those with occupational qualifications can’t think out of the box and come up with solutions when the rules change.
There is a newer approach in the occupational field which suggests that employer/ industry needs would be better served by structuring courses into theory, practice and workbased experience elements. This is unfortunately likely to produce more of the same (although possibly at a higher level) – people who can operate efficiently in today’s world but who don’t have what is necessary to adapt to radical and rapid change.
Whilst the necessity for technical specialists will always be there, what these examples show is the increasing need for more generalised skills: the ability to work in teams and build relationships, to solve problems, to think strategically, pro-actively and outside of silos.
Are these skills which can be taught and, if so, how?
Radical change calls for radical adjustments and today’s Supply Chain industry needs a learning environment in which:
· Learning is based on challenges which are structured to ensure that solutions are found through teamwork. Teams should comprise not only learner syndicates but mentors, subject matter experts and other real people.
· Each challenge must require that a number of different solutions are presented with a fully motivated case for the adoption of one of them;
· Recommended solutions presented must include the “what ifs” of contingency planning.
Since there are no correct answers to such challenges, they need to be assessed against:
· Flexibility of approach
· Extent of team involvement
· Ability to transfer learning from one context to another
· Workability of solutions
· Adaptability of solution(s) to changing conditions
· Application of new and relevant technology
Is this a system which could work in your environment?
If there are ideas here which have some appeal, how would you go about implementing them?
How could the current system be adapted to these ideas?
These answers will form the basis of subsequent discussions.