The longer you write, the more likely you are to visit the same subject twice.
Or three times.
So it is with this subject- “What traits should the future Supply Chain leader possess?” Over the years, I have had scores of articles published. There have been scores more that are either filed away, partially-completed or totally forgotten.
As I was contemplating the subject matter for this article, I remembered that I had written an article for Healthcare Purchasing News entitled “5 people I would hire to run my supply chain.” I tried finding the article online, but couldn’t, so I went to the pile of old magazines in my basement to look for it. I discovered it- from the May, 2007 edition. I also found an article that I co-authored in May, 2009 with Ed Hisscock of Trinity Health and Nick Gaich, formerly of Stanford Health entitled, “Seeking out the next-generation supply chain leaders.” Both articles were written to serve different purposes. The first was written to highlight a group of five people that I thought were exemplary leaders. The second showcased a concept Ed, Nick and I had about the characteristics of the “Transformational organization.”
What the two articles had in common was that they both included a list of subject matter that the leader needed to have mastery over or familiarity with. In the first article, the requirements I identified were:
There are many requirements I would have for a SCL (Supply Chain Leader). They include:
Two years later we wrote:
Today’s Supply Chain Leader must be knowledgeable (or at least conversant) in topics such as:
The body of each of the articles proceeded toward different ends. The first one was about five people I knew that I would hire if I were a CEO. It was meant to highlight some exceptional people. The other article was aimed at the “5 R’s (now 6) of the excellent organization. That notwithstanding, both articles prefaced their arguments with a list of characteristics that I/we thought were essential for someone wanting to lead a supply chain.
Upon review thirteen to eleven years later, something jumped out at me. My first list of the elements of the supply chain (2007) contained only four categories:
That list was certainly quite general and far from granular. Two years later, while some operations-related detail had been added (UPNs, ERP, RFID and 3PL, the general thrust still remained focused on product selection, purchasing, decision-making clinical issues (Demand-matching protocols) and clinical technology planning.
What was glaringly absent in the criteria we mentioned was a focus on the cost of operating the supply chain. Over the years, organizations have been able to focus on how much they spend on supplies and medications. Many calculate and track calculate global performance benchmarks such as:
However, little to no attention has been given to developing metrics to measure the costs associated with the operational components of the supply chain such as fulfillment rates, fulfillment efficiency, external and internal distribution costs, costs associated with the real estate and equipment associated with the operation, human resource costs associated with the operations, etc.
In the eleven years since the last of the two previous treatments of the supply chain leadership subject, many notable changes have taken place in the industry that require new and different skill sets from its leadership, including:
The changes noted above make it clear that a particular set of characteristics must be present in the supply chain leader of the future. Here is what will be demanded of future leaders:
There is no doubt that the next decade will witness changes in the manner in which healthcare is rendered in the United States. While it is impossible to predict those changes in discreet detail and total accuracy, the one thing that is obvious is this: the supply chain’s role in the success or failure of the organization will continue to increase in importance…
… and much more will be demanded from its leaders.