Given the diversity of the challenges in their job, Supply Chain Managers need to be versatile, multi-skilled people, chameleonic in a way. A bit like the decathlon athlete, (s)he needs to perform well on a lot of different disciplines, not necessarily the best at each, but good enough to have a good shot at becoming the overall number 1 in the tournament. Inspired by the concept of the “T-Shaped Supply Chain Manager”, as it has appeared in various publications and was further developed by Inspired-Search, I will in a short series of blogs discuss the main important aspects of the Supply Chain Manager’s peculiar modern-day 21st century Daily Decathlon, as well as some of the main implications for the company. We’ve already passed the halfway-mark through the decathlon, here goes the fifth part!

Decathlon – Game 9: “Who are you?”

(A variation on the classic “Who am I?” in which participants carry a card with the name of a famous person on their forehead and by asking specific questions have to figure out which person they represent. In this version, participants have to observe and ask very specific questions to people in the audience to figure out which ones make the best team of 5. The winner is the one who is able to select the best balanced team and make them work together.)

SCM is not only a complex area from a conceptual or technical point of view, on top of that it’s also very people-intensive and likely to be stressful in the sense of dealing with a lot of daily operational fires, in between the own organizational departments, suppliers and customers. We mentioned Murphy before, well here he is again.

Good Supply Chain Managers are able to bring the right team together and create a positive atmosphere, which makes it more likely that their people resist all these pressures that they continuously have to stand up to. For the Supply Chain Managers this means having sensibility for people, cross-cultural skills in case of multinational environments, attention for both content (the “what” of the message) and form (the “how to transmit the message”).

Of course, not all projects need singing around the campfire or sharing an outdoor sauna in mid-winter, but the skilled Supply Chain Manager knows when to play this ace and when such an activity is a winning thing and a good investment.

Decathlon – Game 10 and Final: “Mega Marathon”
(The classic in its original form, in the true spirit of Pheidippides: run the full 42.195 kilometers in the shortest possible time. The winner is the one who… well, arrives first.)

Of course, there had to be a traditional element in the Supply Chain Managers Daily Decathlon as well: the all-time classic and milestone event of any athletics tournament: the Marathon.

This one is about endurance, about never giving up. Normally, and luckily, for most successful Supply Chain Managers this is not a big issue: they really like the finish line they’re heading towards and look forward to this great feeling of crossing it, looking back with satisfaction at a race well-run. But maybe even more importantly, they usually not only enjoy the finish itself quite a lot, but also have a great deal of fun during the whole route to get there. It’s not only about the destination but also about the trip to get there!

But for now, take a short and well-deserved break to relax a bit and think back for a moment to that great Decathlon we did today:

1. SimCity™ – holistic thinking, big picture, perspective
2. Mighty Materials Monopoly – business sense, financial expertise
3. Rush Hour® – logical thinking, problem solving, targets
4. Power Pit-Stop Project – analytics, technical skills, project management
5. World of Warcraft® – negotiation, stress- & uncertainty-resistance
6. High-hope Tightrope – trade-off sensitivity, balancing objectives
7. Dragons’ Den – elevator pitching, verbalize and visualize
8. Diplomacy® – alliance building, political sensitivity
9. Who are you? – sensibility for people, creating ambiance
10. Mega Marathon – endurance, while enjoying the ride

We’ve made it to the finish! In the next post, which will be the last of this short series of blogs about the Supply Chain Manager’s Daily Decathlon, some of the main implications of the Decathlon for the company will be discussed.

To be continued here shortly

(this post was also published on Supply Chain, 10-May-2013)