Thursday, 9 July 2015

Sustaining the Future through Corporate Professionalism

Few businesses have developed a sufficient understanding of how dependent their competitiveness is on the creation of skills in the organisation. In general, businesses rely on the spot market for skills, rather than cultivating skills pipelines to ensure sustainable competitiveness. 

The 360o Success Formula

With the continued emergence of new technologies and ever evolving customer needs, the sustainable supply chain management organisation recognises that the skills required to succeed tomorrow are not the same as the skills required to succeed today. It was once possible to establish skills benchmarks based on the success of the past, but today we must anticipate the benchmarks of the future to plan people development proactively.

Sustainable success calls for a general skills framework to promote balanced development so that, at every stage of his or her career, the individual is building a blend of technical, business, and leadership skills. The key question to be answered is which specific skills within that framework are most critical?

In today’s environment the answer lies in regularly re-assessing skills needs against market demands. In this context it is most instructive to take the skills needs identified in different sections of this year’s supplychainforesight survey and to classify them according to the three different types of skills listed above:

supplychainforesight skills needs
Identifying and managing change
Growth and expansion into new markets
Enhancement of services and products
Predicting customer demand
Integration of technology
Improving the flow of business intelligence
Improving service levels to customers
Lowering procurement costs and reducing order lead times
Outsourcing functions for cost and service improvement
Improving relations with customers, suppliers and service providers

This indicates that the organisation needs to focus away from instances where people are missing skills they need for their current function and towards opportunities to develop skills they will need for their next role.

The formula for enhanced professionalism

Enhanced professionalism is a process, not an event and it has four key components:
Expectations and attitudes: Whilst on the one hand it is up to each individual to recognise that their marketability relies on lifelong learning, the responsibility lies on the organisation to make recommendations for a career that sets the standard for creating a development plan.

Education and training: That key ingredient of formal learning that supports current skill sets and accelerates future development. Match care must be taken to ensure that what is being offered is in fact what is needed. In very, very few instances will an off the shelf, formal training programme cover the exact needs of every learner: some tailoring will be required by the organisation (that’s what gives you your competitive edge, dummy!).

Mentoring: Career relationships that foster individual development

Workbased experiences: There is just no substitute. But, you say, if we are training for the future and not the now, how do we ensure that this happens? There are four steps:

1. Identify “superheroes” who already demonstrate the desired skill. Build your experiential solution(s) around the key differentiators that separate these “superheroes” from the rest.

2. Share with other organisations to find out if they have faced a similar skills gap and the lessons they learnt in addressing it.

3. Having identified an experiential solution, run a pilot to evaluate its effectiveness, adjust as necessary, and gather a group of advocates (participants and their leaders) who will promote the value of the solution with their peers.

How equipped is your organisation to capitalise on the opportunities which these times of uncertainty bring?

Are you confident that you have sufficient skills reservoirs which are the muscles that power organisational flexibility?

Please join the discussion.