Of course, shifting to an autonomous supply chain will be a massively complicated initiative that many workers may not have the skills for, and where many of today’s jobs will become redundant. Alternatively, at a time of economic uncertainty and financial belt tightening, as an operations leader, you may be inclined to pursue a transformation that only considers reducing supply chain costs. Both scenarios for transformation will create anxiety for workers if you don’t craft a vision that inspires them to believe in the transformation and go the extra mile during the darkest days of the transformation journey. Yet, according to our research, operations leaders are 11 percentage points less likely than other functional leaders to say that their transformation vision addressed an issue they were passionate about.
Employees know that it’s a competitive world. When they understand the cost dynamics and how they can contribute to making a difference, the vision becomes more than a corporate slogan. It becomes a driving force that everyone can get behind. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of operations workers surveyed said that transformations offered opportunities for the organization to make a positive impact on the world. During one transformation, a well-known consumer goods company explained the compelling business reason for change at the factory, as well as the desired outcomes — improved safety, reduced waste and better customer service. These were issues that galvanized both leaders and workers to believe in the changes ahead. In this instance, improved ways of working and increased automation led to reducing staffing. However, all the losses were through planned retirement, natural attrition or moves to other roles.
- Be willing to self-disrupt, even if the organization is operating at peak performance.
- Focus on a compelling “why” that leaders and workers can believe in and support.
- Foster two-way communication that can reinforce the shared belief.
Consider collaborating with the CMO to help create a narrative that brings the vision to life. As experts on branding and consummate storytellers, CMOs are best positioned to help COOs and CSCOs craft the right messaging.