Leadership Tools - Guiding Questions for You and Your Teams

In our work with supply chain leaders in companies around the world, it has become clear to us that there is no “cookbook” or set of prescribed actions that are universal for all businesses seeking to become digitally advantaged. Instead of check lists of actions to perform or consider, we have concluded that a set of management questions to ask yourself and your teams in a guided fashion is more useful. These questions have been posed to help guide executive education participants through the complex thought processes of leading digital businesses. They are presented here as a set of resources to consider as we close this chapter on demand management.

Driving Questions - Demand Management

  • • Can you identify and access new sources of real-time data that could improve your company’s ability to sense demand? What are they?
  • • What can you do to enable your own company’s supply chain function to take on a greater role in stimulating and shaping demand?
  • • What can your organization do to improve its level of supply chain lower latency or real-time responsiveness?
  • • What does your team recommend the organization do that is practical and implementable within 2 months?
  • • How does your plan deepen or extend the company's relationship with its customers? What are the data sources that will help the company to either better sense, manage, match, or stimulate demand?
  • • How will you access the data you will need to become more demand focused? Are there other functional areas or stakeholders you will need to involve?
  • • How will you allocate resources and prioritize improvements?
  • • What are the leadership implications of making these ideas happen?

Case Example

Global Manufacturer and Brand Marketer of Consumer-packaged Goods

Industry and Competitive Landscape

The consumer personal care products business is characterized by the dominating presence of a handful of key global players at the top the industry, as well as number of growing segments of newer, independent brands focused on a narrower range of products. Our case company is at the top of the industry and has developed a reputation as being one of the top supply chains in the world. How does one of the world’s biggest, and best supply chains adapt and evolve? What are the key strategic business actions they are taking to remain competitive, innovate, and deliver on the complexity of having thousands of SKUs, size, flavor, configurations for each of its hundreds of categories, manufactured and delivered to over eighty countries around the world? The market leader of this set of high volume, modest margin core business must have something we can learn from about designing high performance supply chains, and how digital segment strategies can help us get there.

Organizational Situation

In spite of the emphasis in this volume on what we have defined as digital supply chain, many of the key strategies the world’s best supply chains develop are still trying to solve the same evergreen problems supply chain leaders have been struggling with for decades. In this case, the challenge is how to improve the overall firm’s ability to better forecast demand, management inventories, and improve visibly of products in the supply chain pipeline. Bullwhip effect, created by information latency is still the core issue to solve, even for one of the worlds’ top supply chains. This and other key organizational strategic initiatives should sound familiar to business leaders from all ranks and functions. Among the initiatives we see:

  • • Increased focus on innovation - being a consumer products business with increasing competition from store brand label and independent brands this is now and will continue to be essential.
  • • The need to become more agile - speed and the ability to change direction in products, networks, and consumer preferences quickly is also the new normal. Also the focus on balancing responsiveness with cost of capital and service levels.
  • • An ability to deliver true End-to-End (from consumer demand to supplier response) planning and execution is also a key part of supply chain strategies of firms around the world
  • • Leveraging analytics to make better decisions - at the crux of the digital transformation firms are undergoing, and
  • • Being more data and systems driven - relying less on individual judgments and instead utilizing data and real-time information to make faster, better decisions

The supply chain leadership response must include digital actions in

order to realize the objectives of these strategic performance initiatives.

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