It’s Not What Keeps Us Up At Night, But What Should Keep Us Up At Night.

The best way to keep our finger on the pulse of the ever-changing business environment is to stay informed.

Last week I had the opportunity to work with Brian Dietmeyer, CEO, and the leadership team at Think 5600.  This company provides training, consulting and software for business negotiations. I lead the Procurement Negotiation Training practice at Think 5600 and teach negotiation workshops several times per year.

During our two-day meeting we talked through a lot of new ideas as would be expected. The leadership team is comprised of a lot of really smart and perceptive business people who articulated trends and changes in the marketplace.  One idea that particularly stuck with me was how business must compete on short-term transient advantages.

Isn’t short-term transient advantages exactly what we respond to every single day as supply chain professionals?  Our targets are constantly moving. To stay ahead of the competition, optimize our networks and deal with a dynamic logistics environment, we have to be alert and nimble. We need to look for the short-term transient advantages.

As Brian said, we need to think about “not what keeps us up at night, but what should keep us up at night.”  How do we determine what that is?  As supply chain professionals, we are trained to respond fast. We know how to be innovative and create new solutions. But what is it that we don’t know that we should be planning for?

The best way to keep our finger on the pulse of the ever-changing business environment is to stay informed.  Here are my suggestions:

– Take 10 minutes every single day to read an on-line article or scan the business news. Look for trends and ideas that are mentioned two or three times. Take these ideas back to your team and discuss how these things will affect your supply chain and how you should respond.
– Establish Google Alerts for key words.  Google will deliver a list of articles every day on the topics you chose.  For example, I have a Google Alert set up for “Reshoring.”
– Listen to the salespeople who call on you or are your colleagues. What new ideas are they hearing in the field? What are their customers talking about?
– Observe the leaders in supply chain management such as Amazon, FedEx and Apple. What new supply chain solutions are they introducing? What direction are they taking and what is prompting them to go in this direction?

You must keep an eye on business trends to constantly forge a new path for your supply chain and prepare a transient advantage for your company. Ask, “what should I know about today?’