Category Management in a COVID World – The Truth According to Gartner  

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We have a lot of respect for the folks at Gartner, and they even include us in their magic quadrants for Supply Chain consulting which we greatly appreciate.  While I missed their recent event, I did hear about it (Supply Chain Challenges and Opportunities at the Virtual Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo, Americas).  The meme was for Supply Chain leaders to “adapt their strategies, investment and leadership style” to ensure that their companies are meeting their topline and cost goals in the post COVID world.

While I won’t comment extensively in this post on their first two domains, let me at least acknowledge them.  The key word in the headline is adapt and we could not agree more.  In the domain of strategy, said Tom Enright, vice president analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice. “They avoid reactive responses to macroeconomic conditions and take advantage of uncertainty to break away from industry competitors.”  If I may humbly point out, we have long advocated for Risk Management to be viewed as a competitive differentiator AND that all arbitrage (of ALL kinds) is temporary in nature.  Therefore, early adopters on the arbitrage curve will reap the biggest competitive advantage for their companies.  For Strategic Sourcing/Supply Chain “U” alumni, you will remember the discussion about converting uncertainly into risk and then managing it.   This is why it was identified as a key strategic process.

And when we introduced the concept of RLT, having Category Strategies that can be flexible and take advantage of constantly shifting arbitrage is key.

The second domain is Adaptive Investment and what I found intriguing from Gartner was the following: “A second option is to mimic the approach that venture capital firms use when assessing whether to fund early-stage start-ups. Success with a prototype or trial is the basis for developing more accurate estimates on how much further funding is needed. Teams feel less constricted and feel less pressure to present a solution that guarantees returns from the start,”.  Think of this as a version of the AGILE methodology in systems development and award those investments that can show progress towards your intended Business Outcomes.

The third domain is the one I found most interesting which is Adaptive Leadership and this from the conference: “This next phase will demand another set of skills from leaders. They will need to balance their leadership style and develop skills as a master communicator to empower change and adaptability within the supply chain organization,”!!!  Hallelujah!!!

 You may have seen this from us as part of the discussions around RLT:I won’t bother you gain about the discussion we’ve been having with all of you for the last 20 years about the importance of Strategic Competencies and you can see that we updated out Maturity Model to reflect that message even stronger.

So, if you were not convinced of the argument that we were proposing as part of the discussion around RLT, perhaps you may be convinced now given that Gartner is saying the same things 😊.

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Dalip Raheja is President and CEO of The Mpower Group (TMG). Dalip has over 30 years of experience managing large organizations and change initiatives. He has worked across the spectrums of supply chain management, strategic sourcing, and management consulting.

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