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Written by Jonathan Endean

Unlocking the collective potential of supply chains

Stage at Gartner Supply Chain Symposium

Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo™ conference delivers must-have insights, strategies, and frameworks for chief supply chain officers (CSCOs) and supply chain leaders to think big and drive real impact within their organizations. Our team attended the event in Orlando last month and left feeling inspired and galvanized about the potential to support supply chain digital fluency skills.

Caroline Chumakov, Gartner Director Analyst, opened with a keynote presentation addressing the challenges supply chains are experiencing, notably the macro-economic decline in productivity, which has reached a global all-time low over the past three decades. Employee churn within supply chains remains high at 33%, the workforce is disengaged with only 25% being highly engaged, and quiet quitting is on the rise with only 16% of the workforce prepared to go above and beyond in their jobs. Whilst digital technology is an important enabler in improving supply chain productivity, it’s by no means a silver bullet.

Key focus areas

Caroline highlighted three key focus areas for unlocking the collective potential of supply chains: individual potential, community potential, and technology potential. Individual potential and community potential are centered around engaging and developing people and teams.

This got me thinking about the underlying challenges that supply chains face in the context of digital transformation initiatives. Giving people new tools and training them on how to use new tools is only the tip of a complex iceberg. Fundamentally, if people don’t feel supported and if they don’t have access to best practice skills development that’s relevant to their specific needs, we’re just putting a digital plaster over a problem that is more deeply rooted. The benefits of implementing digital technologies are typically diminished when individual developmental needs are overlooked.

We were lucky enough to host a roundtable with senior leaders from organizations including Delta Airlines, Intel, and Johnson & Johnson. We dove deep into how these organizations are approaching digital transformation, their successes and challenges of working towards digital fluency and how it’s helping to future-proof their workforce. We also discussed how organizations can partner with learning providers like ours to support employees with the skills and development they need for their roles.

T-shaped skills allow for digital fluency

Multidisciplinary skills development, also commonly referred to as T-shaped skills, comes to mind as an approach to meeting the nuanced developmental needs of individuals. Practically, T-shaped skills can be developed through a combination of personalized role-based learning to develop depth of expertise in one’s discipline (the vertical of the T), combined with cross-discipline learning to develop breadth of knowledge and skills that cuts across key business functions and processes (the horizontal of the T). You can learn more about T-shaped skills in our recent whitepaper as our Head of Supply Chain content, Adrian Preston discusses the use of skills required in supply chain teams.

Evidence suggests that people who possess T-shaped skill sets are key to unlocking potential within supply chains as they are generally strong at critical thinking, good at collaboration and breaking down silos, understanding the big picture, and effective at problem-solving. These are some of the key behaviors and attributes that enable great change agents and business leaders. Harnessing the power of T-shaped skills also drives greater levels of talent mobility and career progression within businesses, both of which are proven methods in helping engage, motivate, and retain talent. Could the ‘T’ be the missing link in digital transformation and productivity improvement plans?

The message from Gartner is clear – if businesses are to unlock the collective potential of their supply chains and improve productivity, leaders need to invest in technology and people by providing personalized employee experiences that make individuals feel valued and give them the necessary tools, skills, and support required to thrive and grow in their roles and careers.

Jonathan Endean VP of Learning Solutions Skill Dynamics