Canadian Packaging

Don’t stick to science


June 11, 2010
by Deborah Aarts

Harold Schroeder
Photo: Deborah Aarts.

It’s no secret that supply chain managers are being called on more and more to lead change projects within their organizations.

The problem, according to Harold Schroeder of Toronto-based consultancy Schroeder and Schroeder, is that most are doing it wrong.

Schroeder led a breakout educational session on change management at the 85th Annual Purchasing Management Association of Canada (PMAC) National Conference in Regina, Saskatchewan on June 10. In it, he detailed the missing component in most supply chain transformations: art.

By art, Schroeder isn’t referring to paintings or theatrical productions. He means the attributes—sometimes referred to as soft skills—that make projects resonate with stakeholders; things like political acumen, business acumen and, importantly, people acumen.

“The problem is supply chain professionals aren’t expected to have [these skills]. They weren’t hired to have them,” he said.

Many supply chain professionals tend to follow rigid project templates and focus only on the numbers while ignoring the implications of the changes on the overall culture of the operation. Because of that, the changes often under-deliver.

If companies want their supply chain transition projects to effectively align with the overall business goals, they need to recruit or train leaders with a handle on both the art and science of the project. And that means it falls on supply professionals to brush up on their non-technical skills.

“Don’t just look at putting things into place. Review if the project achieved what it was supposed to do,” he advised.

Look for more in-depth coverage of this presentation and more in the July-August issue of Purchasingb2b.