Executive candidates need 'hands-on' treatment

Fewer than one in five supply chain managers have the strategy building, change management and planning skills they say they have

Executive candidates need 'hands-on' treatment
Executive candidates need 'hands-on' treatment

By Anna Game-Lopata | July 5, 2013

Fewer than one in five supply chain managers have the strategy building, change management and planning skills they say they have according to visiting supply chain change management expert Joe Schriever.

With more than 30 years in the public and private sector leading turn- around projects in IT, utilities health and human services in the
United States, Schriever says developing visionary executives is
the key to managing critical change.

"When someone’s IT, procurement or materials management organisation was in a shambles, I got a job," Schriever told last week’s Smart Conference session of supply chain competencies.

"I go in and the first thing I do is develop a plan to decide what I need to do and how.

"The second thing is the right people, you have to get the right people on the bus and then you’ve got to get them into the right seat on the bus," Schriever says.

"The third thing is processes. Processes have to be right, good, clear and easy to follow. If a process is perfect but it’s easier to circumvent the process, you’ll get the results of the circumvention rather than what you planned for."

"Once those things are in place I expect performance, it’s that simple."

Schriever says it’s better to ‘make’ supply chain competencies than to "buy’ them.

He says says he has spent a lot of tax dollars investing in his people because he won’t succeed without them.

"If a supply chain manager only sees dots and straight lines in their mind when thinking about the organisation, they will never be successful," he says.

"What you need to be able to see is a turning three dimensional image, because supply chain is always changing and if you can’t understand it, it’s hard to strategise and build into it."

Scriever says the skills in highest demand for aspiring supply chain managers are planning, strategising and change management.

"Why? Because that’s how you build the future," he says

"If you’re hiring an executive level person you want someone who can imagine and build into the future, not yesterday or today. Tomorrow is where we’re going."

But Schriever says just one out of five people claiming to have these skills actually have them.

He says if you choose to buy executive level supply chain managers , "hire well".

"Find the best you can find and pay them whatever you have to pay them."

"You’re not always going to find them, and you’ll probably find people who are slightly off what you do.

Schriever says the best policy is to look for executive level people within your own ranks who have the ability to transfer skills, demonstrated vision and the integrity to learn from mistakes.

"This is what I propose to you. You have education, You have to have people who understand the basics of marketing, finances, production and operations.

"If they don’t have some sort of framework becomes very difficult to grasp context and the relationship between things.

"But if you have someone promising, let them shadow the people who are making decisions. People need the opportunity to do things. Let them get in and do it.

"The ability to follow someone, watch and learn then get involved in planning things is what I’m looking for," Schriever adds
"I don’t hire someone who has supplementary skills to me, I hire complementary skills I don’t have.

"I want someone who can disagree with me and say why, provide a critique; who can tell the story, offer a solution, the rationale for the solution and its implications."

Schriever says potential executives must be exposed on a regular basis to the factors that matter when it comes to planning.

"They need to learn how to recognise them when they see them and to know the weight which should be attached to each one of them," he says.

He says candidates should be asked to plan some change.

"Not just with our folks. Make them talk to the customers, the suppliers and each other to get an understanding about what’s really going on.

"Make candidates work on contingency plans, look for trigger points and know when to trigger and execute the contingency plan.

"As executives, they’ll need to understand when to back off so they can control what’s going wrong."

Schriever also suggests creating a junior executive group.

"Let them have all the information as the executives and see what they do. See what’s different. Both sides will learn something," he says.

"Doing it works. Don’t sit behind a desk, you’ve got to roll up your sleeves and make it happen."

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