business man balancing on a rope

I’ve heard time and time again, how operating leaders (including, but definitely not limited to COOs and CSCOs) need to modify their current approach to managing their organizations performance, both financial and operating.  BUT, what most conversations tend to focus on are the challenges and problems and maybe one or two insights on how to improve (e.g., attract/retain talent or think more strategically).   Well, since no one seems to want to speak about how to actually go about solving the problem at hand, let’s go ahead and do just that.

First, let’s start off with the landscape.  The day-to-day demands are never-ending; along with multiple “asks” regarding new initiatives to drive better operating performance, the need to have a demand-driven supply chain or maybe even the need to develop a more resilient supply chain.  Needless to say, it’s a challenging situation.  In looking at how to approach this obstacle course of demands, many operating leaders will find themselves in a moral predicament – How can you aim for the best personal reward while getting the most optimal return for the company?  What does that even mean, you ask?  Well, human nature drives us to want more for ourselves, right?  Well, as an operating leader looks to understand his or her career’s future, leaving behind a legacy or seeing through a major transformation will inevitably change their personal brand value.  A key variable sometimes left unconsidered, as sometimes the lens being used to view the future is myopic, is the approach to ensure that this legacy is a positive one and that it does in fact increase your individual brand value.  This is when you will see greater rewards coming your way, but will also drive higher company returns.

So, how can you balance all of the incoming demands and ensure that this balance results in both personal reward and company returns?  The lens with which I look at these issues starts with being an extension of the operating leader’s mind – Think of a demand-driven supply chain strategy and ask yourself the following:

  • Does our defined strategy align with the long-range objectives of the business?  Does it align to my peer counterpart’s roadmaps?
  • Have we considered the organizational expertise (or alignment) to execute this strategy?
  • Do we have thoughtful, documented processes to follow and execute the strategy?
  • Do we have a robust technology solution in place to support?
  • Do we have the ability to look back and check to see if I did what I set out to do?  And if not, why not?

It’s simple to say, focus on all of these areas, with a balanced approach to ensure that the output is not only executable, but also sustainable during the allocated hours we call a work week.  Well, since it’s not that simple, let’s start with something a bit more basic.  A balanced approach would include:

  • Developing a strategy which aligns with the overall long-range business plans
  • Evaluating current and building new capabilities which support this strategy
  • Implementing the technologies which enable the capabilities to execute to this strategy
  • Injecting a level of visibility into why you are doing what you are doing and are your results what you expected.

A comprehensive approach to the four items above, with the embedded link to financial performance, will enable success.  A disparate approach, which many of you are likely nodding your heads as it is resonating with you at this point, will take these four items and turn them into failure modes.

So, who wants to focus on the approach to build out a positive legacy with sustainable returns for the company?  Sounds like the makings of a “win/win” situation to me!