Becoming a Supply Chain Innovator (Disruptor): Part 1

Building a competitive advantage across the supply chain starts with an individual that is unwilling to accept the status quo. Traditionally, these team members might be considered supply chain innovators. We like to refer to this persona as a supply chain “Disruptor”.

Disruptors aren’t nearly as menacing as they sound. They don’t disrupt to people they work with, but rather disrupt a stale, outdated way of thinking and acting. They are the outliers in corporate America. They are not content to maintain the status quo. Making nominal improvements to keep up with industry standards just isn’t that interesting to the disruptor. No, the disruptor sees a very different vision of the future and acts accordingly. The disruptor is not trying to stay with the pack. Their plan is to leave the pack in the dust! Better still, they’re not concerned with the pack, but instead obsess about their customer.

In this series of posts, we’ll discuss what it takes to become a supply chain disruptor, or innovator if you prefer. But let’s start with some basic traits. Here’s a list of dos and don’ts that seem to be common, although not exclusive, to disruptors:

  • Do
    • Recognize that the supply chain can be a competitive advantage
    • Rely on smart people to power the supply chain
    • Obsess about the processes that define the supply chain
    • Rely on technology to improve speed and decision-making
    • Have a “modular” way of thinking. I.e., see the whole picture as one unified system, but willing to break up the pieces to improve performance
    • Acknowledge that the process and the enabling technology are only as good as the people who will implement and live with them
    • Rely on data-driven metrics
  • Don’t
    • Blindly favor cost-reductions over improving customer service
    • Accept limitations that others do
    • Become complacent with past performance
    • Assume that monolithic, standards-driven technology is good enough for every aspect of the supply chain
    • Believe vanity metrics

In sum, this list embodies two key concepts that we at Profit Point hold to be supply chain truisms:

  • People, Process, Technology – the essential ingredients of any successful supply chain, presented in order of importance.
  • Manage by Metrics – As Peter Drucker suggested, “management by objectives” leads to improvement. Gather and analyze the right data to generate the best decisions.

In future posts, we’ll dive in deeper and provide case study examples to better explain some of the traits that define the disruptor. If you have any ideas or suggestions that you’d like to explore, feel free to leave a comment below.

Are you a supply chain disruptor? To learn more about Profit Point’s Supply Chain Optimization Services, please contact us.

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