CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
December 15, 2017
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Keeping it personal in a digital world

Comment
While electronic communication has become a permanent part of our daily lives, face-to-face communication is still important for supply chain success.

Electronic communication has become a permanent part of our daily lives. My two sons, for instance, can't seem to communicate unless there's a screen and a keyboard involved!

Their devotion to messaging technology made me wonder about the art (and entertainment value) of face-to-face communication. Evidently, it's a topic that concerns many of you, too. In a recent conference presentation, I noted that supply chain participants are now able to move information at lightning speed around the globe, no matter where they're located. Then I brought up the issue of electronic versus face-to-face communication. The audience's response was astonishing. Everyone in attendance wholeheartedly agreed: we must make certain that personal interaction is not lost in today's digital world.

This is a concern not just in our personal lives but in our business lives as well. In my experience, a core characteristic of a successful supply chain manager is strong interpersonal skills. In fact, our ability to communicate well both inside our companies and externally with our suppliers and customers is a prerequisite for our companies' success.

That's because effective interpersonal communication leads to successful collaboration, both inside and outside an organization. Internally, the members of a well-functioning team must perform as a single, cohesive engine—something that can happen only when there is clear communication among them. That, in turn, makes cooperation among supply chain participants possible. This is no small matter; without collaboration, the supply chain will be nothing more than a collection of companies, each following its own path.

Strong communication skills are also a prerequisite for our own, personal success and that of our profession. We must be the chief public relations officers for our supply chain and logistics organizations, explaining what we do in a way that helps our colleagues understand the critical role we play in our companies' bottom line. Only then will they "invest" in us by providing the necessary resources for achieving supply chain excellence and supporting innovative supply chain approaches to complex business problems.

When companies invest in people and help them to develop their interpersonal skills, the result is a high-functioning supply chain team that clearly demonstrates the all-important characteristics of quality, leadership, and integrity.

That's one reason why I strongly encourage you to join us at our Rick Blasgen is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP).

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