Like everyone else supply chain professionals also want to do a great job. They also want to be recognised for doing so.
The last thing they want is a random call in the middle of the night berating them (or one of their people / suppliers) for a missed delivery or some such oversight. Yet, that happens more often than not.
Everyone dreads such calls or similar finger pointing towards them in top management team meetings. Public shaming is even a worse form of compliance mechanism.
Clearly, no one get into his car in the morning declaring to themselves that they are going to do a bad job today.
Yet when I ask supply chain managers what is their definition of success I get a diverse set of answers.
As an example, I was presenting at a regional supply chain managers' retreat at the request of the regional head of SCM in a large multi-national corporation. After introducing my topic and my experience to talk about it, I asked this simple question.
What Does Success Mean To You?
In a roomful of about 40 people I got more than 20 different themes.
Those who were the reactive types were content if nobody pointed fingers at them through the day. They were clearly coming from place of fear and just wanted the packages to be delivered as expected.
Those who were active types were looking for what their KPIs ought to be.
Those who were pro-active types were looking outside their group for defining their jobs.
Before this discussion could degenerate into a free-for-all about KPIs and their appropriateness (which a topic of immense debate among the supply chain professionals), I directed the group to think about the following question:
Who Defines Your Success?
and how do you help them define it?
Suddenly the discussion turned to stakeholders, internal customers, external customers, supply chain strategy and business strategy and the linkage between these.
Beauty is after all in the eyes of the beholder. Even the universal markers of beauty change with time.
What was surprising was how few SCM people were focused on finding the exact priorities of all their stakeholders and defining them precisely so that they could have an objective standard of their own success. That is the only way you can avoid random blame from random people at random time.