Publisher Viewpoint: Pay More Attention to Supply Chain People Skills
The value of people in the supply chain cannot be overlooked. But where does that leave us as many new supply chain pros, raised on communication skills driven by little keyboards, enter the workforce and supplant today’s practitioners? Here’s some unsolicited and perhaps unwelcome advice.
Given all the tech advances of late, some observers wonder if tomorrow’s supply chain operations will leave real people behind. To make that point, the cover of our July 2023 edition showed a customer/3PL interaction over a text message stream (Put Your 3PL to the Text).
No doubt that kind of techno interaction is critical to today’s distributed and interwoven supply chain operations, especially given the increased mobility of all the different supply chain stakeholders. That, and the sheer volume of data and decisions involved in today’s transactions, would make it not humanly possible to manage if advanced technology was not involved in the process.
In a recent Inbound Logistics video podcast, Seth Patin, founder of LogistiView, makes the wry point that he “never saw artificial intelligence move a box.” In a changing economy, driven by fast-moving and evolving supply chain relationships, we forget the importance of the Human Touch, as Bruce Springsteen sang, at our own peril.
Author and supply chain luminary Yossi Sheffi offers the similar nuanced perspective that it is important to make an effort to keep people front and center in modern business operations. The convergence of people and technology managing global supply lines in this highly charged economic environment presents a challenge, but also an opportunity.
Sheffi’s latest book, The Magic Conveyor Belt, details the singular value of people in supply chain, or, more accurately, the importance of people-to-people interactions in this brave new world dominated by unbelievable technology.
“While many of the new skills are techno-centric, ironically it’s the social skills that may be the key to human employment [and I would add enterprise success] in a world dominated by technology,” Sheffi writes. Clearly he is not knocking the exploding use of supply chain technology, but rather makes the point that the human dimension is as important. And in certain circumstances, more so.
So where does that leave us as many new supply chain pros, raised on communication skills driven by little keyboards, enter the workforce and supplant today’s practitioners? A word of unsolicited and perhaps unwelcome advice: Make a long-term commitment to sharpen your people skills.
Why? There just are some supply chain and business challenges that technology will never solve, but people will.