“The sweet spot of innovation is being close to the customer.”

May 27, 20162 minute read

— Panelist participating in the 2016 AWESOME Symposium session titled “Supply Chain Innovation: Leading Change for Future Success.” Panelists, all supply chain leaders of major companies, agreed that companies that want to be innovative need to seek out good information and input, even if that means reaching out beyond the company.

Another panelist related how her company wanted to be more efficient about maintenance. With the goal of making the ordering of supplies more proactive — less reactive — they talked to suppliers and asked them to bring ideas to the table. In this example and others, sometimes the best sources are those not traditionally being tapped. Another company did something similar when they formed a council of NGOs to talk about making the supply chain more sustainable.

Sometimes a consultant is brought in to take an objective view. Another company held a “break-a-thon” where they asked people to take a closer look by “breakIng apart ” how they do things.

The Panelists agreed on another point: Innovation must be driven from the top and built into the culture. Sometimes changing the culture requires small steps, perhaps even hiring people with different skill sets from those of the current team members. It’s critical that teams truly understand each other and are communicating to find and formulate a vision together. Often that involves “bridging,” or working across silos.

More insights from this discussion will be incorporated in the fifth volume of REALITY CHECK. Watch for the report’s release on this website in a few weeks.

Panelists for this Symposium session included Linda Bryant, VP, Global Strategy & Business Excellence, Janssen Supply Chain, a Johnson & Johnson Company; Francesca DeBiase, Chief Supply Chain and Sustainability Officer, McDonald’s Corporation; Alexandra Lopez, CPO & VP Operations, Cisco Systems; and Kristen Workman, VP, Supply Chain Performance, Global Supply Chain, Schneider Electric. Moderator of the discussion was Stacey Taylor, SVP & Chief Procurement Officer, MGM Resorts International.

View photos of panel

View entire Symposium Agenda