Making Strategies a Success

Creating and implementing strategy is notoriously hard.  So many variables beyond just the act of developing the strategy need to come together in order for it to take root.  These variables include organizational culture, organizational competency, incentive programs and employee behaviors. 

As many of you know, SMI is in the midst of developing a 3-5-year strategic plan, so this is a good time to highlight a couple of success factors in strategy development and deployment. 

Develop a theme

One night the chief supply chain officer of a manufacturer of mobile phones returned home to learn that his daughter had purchased a competitor organization’s phone.  When he asked her about it, she told her Dad that the competitor’s product had certain camera and video features that his company’s product did not have. 

“Yet,” the chief supply chain officer said.  “Our next launch has the same features and it is due for release any day now.”  What he didn’t tell her is that his company’s phone was supposed to have launched a few weeks earlier but had encountered production delays. 

“Sorry Dad,” his daughter shrugged.  “I didn’t want to wait.”

 Thus, was born the company’s strategic theme to become “the fastest speed to market supply chain.”  The story the chief supply chain officer told rallied the organization around this critical objective. 

Make it Customer-Centric

From its beginning, Intel’s culture was centered on the engineering and science of semiconductor manufacture.  Its leadership team rose through ranks of research and development and instilled an attitude on the exceptionality of its products above all else.  If a customer had to wait due to some delay, then so be it.  The customer didn’t understand the complexity in making exceptional products. 

When Intel appointed a new CEO, this attitude changed.  He galvanized the organization around the slogan of “just say yes.”  This new customer-driven mindset catalyzed the supply chain organization to put into practice more customer-centric practices that it had been wanting to implement for years, but organizational culture had impeded them from doing so. 

The CEO even changed the employee bonus incentive to include a customer-centric responsiveness measure for all employees, not just those in supply chain.  This elevated the role of supply chain within Intel and led to dramatic improvements, including a 75% improvement in order to delivery cycle time, and a 30% delivery performance improvement.    

Connect the theme to the program plan

The theme should shape the program plan, or in other words, the strategic roadmap. 

In the case of the mobile phone manufacturer referenced above, fastest speed to market translated into a program plan focused on eliminating complexity in both product design and the supply base.  To become the fastest speed to market supply chain this organization needed to reduce the suppliers involved in phone design, development and assembly.

For Intel, “Just Say Yes” allowed supply chain to focus on improving factory cycle times and to implement a dynamic vendor managed inventory process for key customers.  Without the guiding principle set forth in the theme, supply chain could have wasted time chasing necessary improvements, but one’s that wouldn’t necessarily achieve the customer-centric objective set forth by the CEO. 

Engage engage engage

This brings me back to SMI’s latest strategic planning effort.  The data we are receiving back from our voice of the member survey is fascinating and will provide tremendous input for our Board of Directors to consider throughout the process. 

One preliminary result that really stood out to me is around the level of engagement SMI members are seeking.  

SMI Engagement

Happily, SMI has a membership eager to engage. We are not in a situation where people are looking to cut involvement. This tells me a couple of things. First, the membership feels emotionally connected or invested in SMI. This is great news, but it also suggests we have not done a very good job providing opportunities for greater engagement to occur. What this broader engagement could look like should form a large part of our strategic planning process.

Increased engagement can start here, however. if you haven’t already done so, please complete our voice of the member survey by Friday, March 22. We can’t stress enough how important it is for us to hear your perspective.

As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions.

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