Business transformation implies a change in the way a company does business, as well as a development of competence in specific functions and processes. Ideally, a culture of change arises and encourages new ways of working towards a more sustainable supply chain. However, to make these changes, organizations often need help from the outside. The Supply Chain Academy from Hughenden Consulting offers some thoughts on the importance of continuous education in making the shift toward organizational transformation.
Supply Chain Academy: The road to supply chain excellence
The international specialist, which combines consultancy and education focused on the processes of supply chain planning, believes in adapting training workshops and educational courses to customers in different markets to allow customers to specifically get only what they want and need. In more developed countries, for instance, customers might want products that make them more productive and eco-efficient while those in emerging countries generally opt to minimize costs.
Whatever the case, Hughenden Consulting's seven steps for achieving excellence provide some places to start:
- Predicting demand more accurately
- Optimizing inventory
- Planning resources
- Scheduling resources
- Aligning supply
- Integrating planning processes
- Adopting supply chain culture
Learn by doing
Interactive games and workshops are the best way to engage participants; it is also the best way to develop skills and a mindset that will be put into practice in real business scenarios after the training. Providing education in English, French, Spanish, and German the Supply Chain Academy maximizes learning strategies focused to achieving results in an enjoyable and pragmatic way.
As one example, participants are challenged with the Elephant Game (also called Building a Better Process). Individuals use Lego bricks to build elephants as fast as they can, racing against a time clock, without consulting with others. Before the second round begins, teams are allowed to talk and work together. The best teams use what they've learned in the first round about building elephants to define a process for building elephants, creating key milestones, and giving every team member a different role. During the second round, teams build more elephants, usually in near silence. This game brings home a truth: teams that plan can execute seamlessly without a lot of discussion or misunderstandings.
To learn more about what Hughenden is doing to help supply chains, and to gain insight and understand what the global supply chains' current needs are EBN spoke with Hugh Williams, founder and managing director at Hughenden.
One of the most important things about the Supply Chain Academy is the personalization of the programs according to the different needs and requirements of their customers. Some significant differences can be found between developed and emerging countries in terms of business needs, business growth, and overall goals.
“In emerging countries, people often come with a real hunger to learn and progress. As such, we find we can increase the learning content because of the speed with which they apply new ideas,” Williams told EBN. “At the same time, the growth rate of their markets will be faster and more erratic, bringing with it challenges to create some stability. In developed countries, the Academy program must cater for the fact that people bring lots of baggage, such as failed past implementations and periods of downturn. So we have to balance the learning content with more pronounced change management material,” Williams added.
An educational program can be challenging. At times, it is meant to change established ways of working within the business. The Supply Chain Academy's program makes sure to link every session with practical assignments and tasks. “We pace the program to allow people to absorb the learning and come back over a subject having practiced it in their work environment,” said Williams. “We strongly push for a 'little but often' approach, whereas our clients would prefer just one big session and then be done with it. But the latter does not allow people to reflect on the change and accept it gradually.”
Indeed, adopting the Supply Chain Academy educational program businesses promptly can experience significant cultural and financial improvements. “The financial improvements are often related to the application of techniques such as better product segmentation, where our clients are able to reduce stock by several millions,” Williams told EBN. In terms of cultural changes, Williams says they are not easily quantifiable, however, “they are even more dramatic because they relate to new working relationships, reduced frustration, and more trust across functions.”