Talent and Organizational Strategy Key Insights: Integrate and Perform

  • • Organizational considerations are critical in driving supply chain transformation. In our research on talent, we focused on the acquisition of key talent needed for digital transformation, as well as aspects of the development of existing and newly acquired talent. In our data-gathering interviews with supply chain leaders responsible for digital transformation, higher levels of performance were found to depend on more than just the right sets of individuals. End-to-end supply chain performance requires both higher levels of integration across organizational functions, as well as possibly re-designing the interactions among functions. Kane et al. (2017) highlight the cultural as well as structural considerations when they point out that “leaders can’t just command that the organization become more digital. They need to build a supportive culture that embraces collaboration, risk-taking, and experimentation” (p. 16).
  • • High-functioning individuals can unlock higher levels of performance, but their impact may be limited by inefficient organizational structures or lack of cross-functional collaboration.
  • • Digital Talent Strategies must be aligned to digital transformation goals. Talent acquisition, development, and integration plans should be tied to the overall DSC transformation strategies. Develop a segmented digital transformation plan, then develop a targeted set of skills needed to execute it. Talent plans may include outsourcing to consulting teams, recruitment, and tapping into shared organizational resources, among other things.
  • • Firms should consider adopting the same techniques used to create happy customers to facilitate productive employees. Recent literature has described the “digital workforce” as a concept that creates a positive employee experience. “Employee experience, (that is) the perceptions and feelings caused by complex interactions with colleagues, systems, and processes, has a powerful effect on performance” (Mann, 2019).
  • • Organizational re-design to smaller, more agile business units.

Several firms have described their shifts away from hierarchal organizational designs towards smaller, independent, crossfunctional business units. In one example, this organizational redesign led to a 70% reduction in lead times.

  • • Digital projects have lifecycles. Several interviewees mentioned that their DSC projects were not at all static in terms of skills required. Project life cycles demanded different skills during the problem definition, design, build and run phases. Interviewees also described the importance of integration behaviors which are not just skills and tools used by team members, but how team members interact with each other. One firm called the combination of role, skill, and interaction characteristics “personas.” This is a rich characterization of the complexity of digital talent planning. It is a dynamic, complex leadership challenge to obtain the right mix of people to drive your digital strategies.
  • • Digital projects still require standard project management approaches. One firm warned digital adopters to not ignore the benefits of keeping transformational projects managed according to standard operating procedures. Having a formal innovation approach in place and supported by an existing innovation culture ensures that digital projects are deployed logically. Conventional project methods, such as assess, test, and deploy, are still relevant. The idea that digital is the new normal, and that projects are being implemented according to plans will create less of a shock on employees compared with calling all digital projects “transformational.” This idea is particularly important given some of the literature we have encountered which highlighted that the cultural adoption of an analytic mindset is overwhelming and difficult to manage for practitioners (Wieland et ah, 2016). Perhaps the shift away from intuition-based decision-making to more analytic decision-making is a source of this discomfort.
  • • People Performance Factors Matter. Our research highlighted that firms could deploy algorithms to improve operational performance but must not ignore the psychological impacts of doing so on employees. More accurate digital forecasting may remove human biases and enhance operational performance, but the cultural adoption of predictive analytics may have barriers to implementation created by practitioners (DSCI, 2020).

Integrate and Perform: Implications for Talent Planning

As you develop and evaluate your DSC Talent plans, consider the following questions:

  • Does your DSC transformation plan adequately consider how your organizational structure promotes or inhibits integrated end-to-end behavior?
  • Do you have a digital talent strategy that is explicitly linked to your segmented transformation goals?
  • Do digital collaboration tools enable your workforce?
  • Where does digital transformation start in the organization? Smaller agile business units? Broadly across multiple segments?
  • Are you utilizing a rapid project life-cycle approach to implementing your DSC actions? Who do you have in place to staff these project teams? Do you have the right mix of talent and skills?
  • Is there a standard project management approach to implementing DSC plans? Are project teams permitted to create their plans or align with an organizational approach?
  • Are there human emotional considerations that may allow bias or create implementation barriers if left unaddressed?
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