Organizational Change Management for Supply Chain-Centric Organizations

In today’s dynamic business environment, change and evolution are essential for the success of any organization. In supply chain centric organizations, change is generally triggered due to changing economy, changing business models, and ubiquitous digitization. Additionally, today’s consumers are more demanding and they want to ensure the products they purchase are of indisputable quality, dependable, and responsibly sourced. That is changing our clients’ businesses, and to stay competitive, we need to adapt accordingly. Change, as we know, is critical to staying relevant, retaining our customers, and sustaining profitability.

The process begins at identifying what change is required and what will drive it. Once that is frozen, a comprehensive change management strategy needs to be crafted through discussions with an organization’s senior management, and a plan should be put in place. Once we have a strategy and a plan is in place, it is essential for leaders and senior executives to be actively involved in the change process. Leadership involvement in change management is necessary to drive change in mindset within the organization. Leaders need to effectively communicate why the change is required, the benefits of the change, the vision, and the strategy throughout the organization.

After the strategy is created, we should develop a communication plan that is easy to understand, and involve employees in the change process. Right from the initial communication that warms up and informs the employees about what’s coming, they should be kept informed about the progress regularly. A strategy-based, properly communicated, systematic approach to change helps in availing support from all the levels in the organization. Another aspect for successful change management is to encourage people who adopt change rapidly and identify them as change ambassadors or change agents. Ideally, those people should be mid-level managers with direct control and visibility of day-to-day business of the organization.

Furthermore, a detailed business case should be developed for each initiative or phase of the change. The business case should also identify risks and have a risk management plan, defining the steps to take in case issues arise. Many organizations choose to pilot transformational change in a particular location or business unit before rolling it out across the organization. The pilot-and-expand approach is mostly useful for organizations with multiple, large and complex business units. The approach also helps tweaking the change management plan if required. Consequently, the implementation process requires strong governance and clarity of the roles and responsibilities within the organization. Well-defined roles and responsibilities across individuals within the organization help get employee buy-in and avoid confusion.

As part of the change, organizations must implement metrics that will reinforce the desired future state and sustain the new performance level. Just measurement is never enough. Incentives are also necessary to encourage adoption and success. The right incentives/rewards/recognition plans should also be implemented to ensure that employees feel directly benefited through the initiative. The right incentives go a long way in ensuring quick and successful adoption of the change at all levels in the organization.

However, it is important to remember there are no short cuts for successful change management.

Bristlecone Pulse 2016 is our premier supply chain customer-facing event to be held in the coming week at San Jose, California. Do drop by to hear top experts and industry leaders who have mastered their supply chains. Listen to our keynote speakers – Marc Randolph, Netflix Co-founder, Executive mentor, and Angel investor; Nick Vyas, USC Marshall Center for Global SCM; Adhir Mattu, Transformational CIO; and Rob Quinn from Cepheid. I am also excited about our Gartner-hosted Panel Discussion that will help learn various customer-success stories from our customers.

All in all, an exciting week ahead and possibly more tips on organizational supply chain management too.