As I reflect on the last 12 months, one word keeps coming to mind—pivot. While I never mastered the pivot move during my unspectacular high school basketball career, I certainly have learned to pivot quickly in nearly every aspect of life over the last 12 months.
Every supply chain professional, educator, student, and association leader has had a similar experience. Life as we knew it changed dramatically as the first cancellations of NBA games and the NCAA tournament were announced in March 2020.
From an industry standpoint, nearly every supply chain responded with the explosiveness of a Michael Jordan spin move. Companies rapidly established remote work capabilities and modified safety protocols to protect essential workers in distributioncenters and on the roads. Retailers ramped up e-commerce fulfillment to handle the tidal wave of online orders. Manufacturers modified sourcing locations and transportation lanes to keep production lines running. These quick shifts are but a few of the critical moves made by supply chain professionals to sustain their organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the academic world, universities pivoted to online learning, often with less than a week’s notice. Supply chain educators became masters of Zoom and Microsoft Teams, modifying content and working tirelessly to preserve a sense of normalcy for students. Career fairs and interviews transitioned to online platforms, and requirements were adjusted to support remote internships. Supply chain research about pandemic responses has been produced with a great sense of urgency. Collectively, these pivots reveal that the “ivory tower” is more agile and adaptable than anyone thought possible.
The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) also demonstrated hall-of-fame caliber moves in 2020. As a CSCMP board of directors officer, I had a courtside seat for the amazing pivots made by the organization’s staff, board, volunteer base, and members. The CSCMP leadership team made complex decisions to keep the organization vibrant. Board meetings became two-day online events but suffered no loss of energy or passion. Roundtables creatively shifted online to provide timely webinars, virtual tours, and (much needed) remote happy hours to connect, develop, and educate CSCMP members.
The ultimate CSCMP pivot was moving the EDGE 2020 Conference and the Academic Research Symposium from onsite to virtual delivery. A year’s worth of planning and execution was compressed into just a few months. Hotel contracts were renegotiated, an online meeting platform was chosen, and nearly 300 speakers prerecorded their content in mid-August. The results? A host of sponsors, virtual exhibitors, speakers, and volunteers created the premier supply chain management virtual event for 2020. Timely content was delivered in 120 sessions across four and half days to more than 2,800 EDGE registrants.
If all this pivoting made you dizzy or exhausted, I absolutely get it. However, we must stay nimble in 2021 and develop new moves. Have a succession plan in place to seamlessly transition when key personnel retire or pursue free agency. Modify strategies to make your organization less reliant on supply chain hot spots. Collaborate with your supply chain partners to achieve greater process resilience in preparation for the next big disruption.
Importantly, make time for professional development and networking. Renew your CSCMP membership, participate in roundtable events, read the great content in Supply Chain Quarterly, and mark your calendar for September 19–22, 2021, in Atlanta, Georgia. CSCMP is pivoting toward hybrid delivery for EDGE 2021 to facilitate both in-person and virtual participation. In-person attendees can be fully confident in their well-being, thanks to the safety protocols that CSCMP is enacting for the conference.So, break away from that home office computer screen for a “road game” at EDGE 2021 in Atlanta. I look forward to seeing you there!
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