Top executives in the retail, healthcare, and consultancy industries are creating new strategies to deal with the current health, economic, and social crises in the wake of COVID-19, according to a panel discussion held Wednesday at the CSCMP EDGE 2020 Live! Virtual conference.
This year’s global health crisis has brought significant challenges to all supply chains. To be successful, leaders are analyzing ways to learn from one another and to work on transforming their business cultures to rapidly respond to health supply needs, to develop the ability to adapt to supply chain disruptions, and to dismantle the culture of racial and gender inequities so everyone benefits, Heather Sheehan, executive director of the nonprofit organization AWESOME, said while introducing the panel discussion.
The pandemic has not only changed the way we view supply chain, it has changed the way we view people’s rolls within an organization. “I think it’s incumbent upon all of us as supply chain professionals to leverage this crisis as a catalyst to increase our focus on our people, supply chain operations, and where [our businesses] really need to invest,” said Regenia Sanders, principal of supply chain and operations at consultancy EY.
One key strategy adopted by all participants was focusing more on the human element and creating a more transparent environment for their employees. “There is heighten stress [now] and a lowering of the veil. We have come to see more of our coworkers home routines and lives and there is a sense of vulnerability that impacts your relationships and helps you see the person behind the work persona,” explained Jessica Scaggs, vice president of inventory and demand management for Dollar General.
“I think it’s really important for us to make sure there are conduits for people to either express their concerns or share their questions,” Scaggs said. One way Dollar General shifted their business strategy to address the needs of their employees was to utilize an anonymous Q&A platform to allow team members to express what is really on their minds and get immediate feedback.
The common leadership lesson expressed by all the panelists centered on the need to be nimble and flexible, manage risks, and pivot quickly in order to transform your supply chains in the short and long term.