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19 May 2021| News |
702 words
By: Michael Whyte

Organisational transformation is more than robotics and automation. It is the people.

In an era where globalisation is driving supply chain transformations and shifts to ecommerce, you are forgiven for thinking sustainable business models are underpinned by innovative technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence and automation.

But organisational transformation does not solely lie in the efficiency and productivity of a supply chain. At the heart of it is a team of individuals, who need to be engaged, motivated, and ultimately empowered to enable change.  

You can build the perfect Ferrari but if you don’t know how to drive it, then the car itself does not matter.

With more than 25 years working in supply chain, logistics and project management, I believe that for any organisational improvement plan to be truly sustainable, we must engage with each individual throughout the journey.

Sustainable change is backed by innovation and growth and is necessary to remain relevant in an ever-evolving world. Being able to support organisations to do this is a privilege but also a very specialist task. Too often, change programs stall due to an inability to focus not only on the perfect end state design but also on the need for people to believe in the vision and their ability to perform and thrive in this new order.

People, process, and technology

The bedrock of organisational capability design has long been considered to encompass three interlocking elements of people, process, and technology to ensure a comprehensive future state design. Having all three operate seamlessly together is often considered the art of expert consultancy. However, it does not always guarantee sustainable change.

Introducing new processes, systems or tools such as robotics and automation is not the end all for supply chain transformations. A key part of any successful organisational capability design is personnel competency improvement delivered via formal change management. It is my professional opinion that understanding self-efficacy and tailoring change management programs to deliver it at the individual level is key to enabling sustainable change.

A people-first approach

Putting people first should be at the heart of any organisational transformation or improvement programme. The same goes when managing supply chain transformations.

Project management of such transformations are rightly focused on future state design and capability building for the new processes. However, we also need to manage the transition to these new ways of working and foster adoption among employees for the long-term.

A core element of this should be developing individuals and future teams to not only understand processes and tools and their roles within an organisation but, more importantly, to also have confidence in their ability to execute within this new system. Developing individual self-efficacy is the cornerstone in creating sustainable change. Essentially, it means empowering individuals within teams with the self-belief in their ability to perform a task.

Underpinned by relationships and trust

While project and change management programs should be tailored to promote self-efficacy within individuals and teams, it all starts with building strong and trusted relationships between leadership and individuals. To deliver sustainable self-efficacy, trust-based personal individual development is key.

Working with leading organisations on the ground in Vietnam, I have seen firsthand how sustainable change can be achieved by directly partnering with individuals and supporting them in the performance of their new roles.

In particular, for business improvement programs or supply chain transformations to succeed, organisations need to spend time anchoring people in the new processes and tools. This helps to develop their competencies in certain areas, build new skills and see behaviour change. Once people see the potential for success that comes from these new ways of working, they are more comfortable with adoption for the long term.

You do not walk away from the perfect Ferrari once you know how to drive it.

But it does not stop there. While the focus is often on implementation and change management through any transformation, the rubber really hits the road afterwards. To make sure any change is truly sustainable, the work on individual self-efficacy should continue well into the future.

This is the work that we do at TMX. We not only provide our clients with the supply chain and organisational capabilities they need to transform to remain competitive in the market, but also the support they need to bring their people on the journey and champion the change into the future.


Michael Whyte
Michael is a supply chain specialist with over 20 years of industry experience. He has held senior S&OP, Planning and Inventory Management and head of Supply Chain positions across multiple industries over the past 30 years.
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