Category Management:  Enough IS Enough, Decision Making & More Puppies!!!

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I hope you and your families are staying healthy and safe. After reading my title you are most likely asking yourself “how are these topics related to each other and to Category Management”? I can and will relate all three of these topics to Category Management.  If you have picked up a newspaper or turned on your TV to ANY channel or gone to the internet today, yesterday or any day over the last eight weeks you have been bombarded by COVID-19.  I decided that “Enough is Enough” and I would NOT write about COVID-19 and how this global crisis has created an amazing opportunity  for our function to play a lead role in managing our Supply Chains.  Most of what we are hearing (whether you consciously realize it or not) is ALL about Supply Chain and not just a single Supply Chain but multiple Supply Chains across every industry and function.  I am NOT going to point out that none of us should waste this chance to step up and proactively move our Stakeholders through this storm while developing sustainable solutions for next time – because there will be a next time.  I am also NOT going to point out that leading TODAY will go a long way to quickly moving your organization beyond Strategic Sourcing to Category Management.  COVID-19 – Enough is Enough.

Next up is Decision Making.  I was looking for a topic that was as far removed from COVID-19 as I could find and I stumbled upon this article in HBR, “How Systems Support (or Undermine) Good Decision-Making”.  This article notes that “one McKinsey survey of more than 2,200 executives shows that 72% of leaders think bad strategic decisions are either as frequent as good ones or the norm in their organizations”.   Getting good decisions made cross-functionally in an organization is a key element of Change Management which should be built into to ALL  our Category Management processes and strategies:

Having worked with dozens of organizations on their transformation to Category Management, Decision Making  and building effective governance structures to support decision making is critical. When we “return” to work in the ”Grand Reopening” or at least get to a new normal in the coming months there will be so, so many critical decisions that will need to be made  to  keep our business going, regardless of what kind of business we are in.  Supplier relationships will be different because your supply base will have changed during this time and we need to lead our Stakeholders through those decisions.  If you don’t have a strong governance process in place today, you need to rapidly think about developing one.  Decisions will need to be made rapidly and cross-functionally to reduce your Supply Chain risk or take advantage of near-term opportunities.  What is important to your Stakeholders may have changed as well.  While lowest cost may have been important  a few months (it only feels like years) ago, we should seek out how they feel today.  We have heard from many clients that supplier decision criteria have already started to shift from cost savings to looking for suppliers that have iron-clad resiliency plans in place and can provide assurance of supply –  because THIS will happen again.   We all need to recognize that getting decisions made collaboratively and rapidly will be key and requires us to play the Role of  a Change Agent, which is one of our 2020 Trends:Finally – More Puppies!   Hopefully, you have found some joy as we work through this crisis.  Whether it is cooking more – two of my sons may become gourmet chefs when this is over or reconnecting (remotely 😊!) with family or friends that we seem to put on the back burner, we can all find some benefit.  For me, it has been spending quality, outside time with my two-year-old grandson.  As often as we can,  we sit in front of his house (practicing social distancing) and watch the dog-walkers go by while he shouts – “More Puppies” !  It doesn’t get better than that!

Please keep you and your families healthy and safe!  Please let us know what you think and join in the conversation . . . . . . .

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Anne Kohler
Anne has been leading consulting and financial management organizations for over 25 years. She has extensive expertise in Strategic Sourcing, change management, contracting & contract management (both the buy side and sell side) organizational design and supply chain management. Anne has a passion for collaborating and educating her clients while helping them to uncover hidden value in their organizations. In addition, Anne has been named by Supply & Demand Chain Executive as a “Top 100 Provider Pro to Know” every year since 2007 and a 2013 Top Female Supply Chain executive.
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