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Four things that should be on every supply chain leaders “To-Do list”

By Professor Richard Wilding OBE

Four Thing SC Leaders List Blog Image 2018

Building on my recent blog on the “get rights” of Supply Chain Strategic Initiatives, it is worth exploring four critical headings for any supply chain leaders To-Do list.

Implementing Strategic Supply Chain Initiatives Successfully

In our rapidly changing world, implementing new supply chain strategies has always been recognised as a challenge. With change moving so fast, having a policy of sitting back and waiting to see what happens can in many situations be dangerous and actions need to be taken today to ensure a supply chain remains competitive. New business models and disruptive technologies are changing the way organisations effectively apply strategic supply chain initiatives. A competitive model that forces supply chain leaders to deliver results today, while simultaneously building a future-proof business for tomorrow.

Our research at Cranfield School of Management with Efeso’s suggests that Supply Chain remains at the forefront of business, in fact in some organisations is the business! Having to satisfy customer needs and delivering top line growth. New kinds of leadership and behaviours are required to orchestrate and deliver successful change across the Next Generation of Supply Chains. New business models, disruptive technologies and cross-generational talent pools are all challenging the traditional approaches to supply chain and change management.


Taking Action: Things for today's 'To-Do List'

To make sure that businesses stand the highest chance of success when implementing strategic change, there are four actions you need on your “To-Do list” today:

  1. Reflection - Learn from experience: reflect on the successes and failures of previous initiatives.
  • At what stage were problems identified?
  • What were the root causes?
  • How could these have been avoided? At what stage? By whom? How?

Reflective practice should be regular habit, the danger in a fast changing world is we rush onto the next new project and forget to reflect and learn from the past to enable the new project to succeed.


  1. Benchmark - Benchmark your organisation and its initiatives (present, future and past - see Reflection!), using the six key success factors as a checklist.
  • Are initiatives ‘vision-led’, and aligned with the overall business strategy?
  • Does the organisation exhibit global and holistic thinking, embracing the end-to-end value chain?
  • Is there a top-down, bottom-up realisation—and acceptance—that personal contributions make a difference in delivering the objectives?
  • Is there a focus on generating short term ‘wins’ and building credibility, backed by pilot implementations, proof-of-concept ‘demonstrators’, and demonstrable tangible benefits?
  • Does the organisation maintain a solid focus on customer-centricity, and on continuing high levels of customer service during implementation?
  • Are the objectives updated and adapted in response to changed circumstances and evolving competitive paradigms?


  1. Breakdown Barriers - How is your business addressing the major barriers to success that have been highlighted?
  • Change overload
  • Unrealistic time-scales
  • Lack of resources


  1. Communicate - Speak to the senior leadership across the business, looking to obtain a cross-functional view of the key success factors and overcoming the barriers to success.


To stand the highest chance of success when implementing strategic change the Reflection, Benchmark, Breakdown Barriers and Communicate need to be at the top of any supply chain leaders 'To Do list'. The impact of a failed strategic initiative should not be underestimated. Not only in terms of the wasted resources and management time expended on a frustrated project, but also potential damage to brand reputation and the strategic consequences stemming from the business finding itself in a sub-optimal position, or lacking clear direction in a fast-moving competitive market place.

Our work in this area is critical to professionalising the supply chain profession and is one of the key themes explored within the Leading Supply Chain Transformation Programme enabling effective leadership for next generation supply chains.


Download the 2018 report to get further details about this research >>

Securing the Success of Strategic Supply Chain Initiatives Today and Tomorrow Report

Blog produced by:  Professor Richard Wilding OBE, Professor of Supply Chain Strategy.


Read more:

Supply Chain Management programme brochure


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