Sustainability of results starts with digital visibility!

Erik Tieleman Published at

How data driven leadership leads to sustainable business results.

Sustainability of results and reliable process performance should be an ongoing leadership process.

In these COVID times, I have had the opportunity to talk to many operations and supply chain executives. The topics ranged from cash preservation, cost productivity and restructuring to on-time delivery product availability in supply chain and the organizational resilience to achieve this. Whatever the angle of the discussion, the need for sustainability of business results is a recurring theme. And yet, it is fascinating to see that it apparently takes major disruptions (like Brexit or COVID-19) to make the sustainability of results a hot topic, whereas creating sustainability of results and reliable process performance should be an ongoing leadership process.

  • How to architect the value realisation and sustainability of it?
  • How to make this a continuous way of working?

The road to excellence here is paved with good intentions, but there are barriers to overcome.

Sustaining a result is about improving your data-driven leadership capability

Many (senior) executives face the symptoms of a lack of sustainability, and they come in many shapes and forms.

I (digitally) ran into Operations leaders, who had done successful lean deployments, they made their Value Stream maps, ran their Kaizens, exchanged best practices, and set global, harmonized standards. Yet, they still struggled to see the clear contribution of these efforts to tangible results in the P&L and/or balance sheet. They had an emerging need to increase supply chain transparency and digital visibility, and were looking for more top-down, hard data evidence-based improvement approaches to see the impact on business results.

Sometimes leaders were “complaining” that even with their own (revamped) “Company Production System” in place, they still observed capability gaps to get to knowing the critical operating parameters and eliminating the variability in their supply chains to bring the results. Too often, this is still tribal knowledge in the heads of operators, and not captured by these “company production systems”. Leaders still struggle to engage the (knowledge of the) employees to bring sustainability into their approaches.

Then, I spoke to leaders who are in the midst of (SAP S/4Hana) integration, upgrading ERP and MES-systems, implementing Digital Roadmaps who told me they can’t really see the effect of their integration, harmonization, and restructuring efforts. Even when they have the KPI’s and corporate dashboards in place.

My point is this: Sustaining a result – whether you operate in Procure-to-Pay, Operations (or Maintenance), Supply Chain, or Order-to-Cash – is about improving your data-driven leadership capability to continuously upgrade your (cross-functional) teamwork, your way of working, your operating system every day. It is about breaking the vicious cycle “No data, no insights. No insights, no knowing. No knowing, no doing. No doing, no (sustainability of) result”.

Data Driven Leadership brings the sustainability

  • How to use your data and your human capital well to produce the meaningful and actionable insights and actually get them done
  • How to bridge the many gaps between what companies know they should do and what they actually do
  • How to not just tick the action box, but to really know that the executed actionable insight effectively yields the targeted result

When you need to get better at implementing actionable insights, or you see that important operating rules are not maintained (COVID?) although everybody understands their relevance, remember you are not the only one.

It takes data-driven leadership as a continuous process to architecting value realization and upgrading your capability to improve sustainability of business results: get your data right, drive insights with appropriate analytics, make insights be owned by the accountable leaders, translate the insights into focused, impactful actions, get assigned workflows executed. Make sure you “see” the opportunity, be demanding to “see” the critical performance predictors, encourage your team to “see” through execution. For every order, every day. Easier said than done, right?

The good thing is that you have a choice. You can choose to be a victim and rationalize the lack of sustainability by using blaming Brexit, COVID-19, corporate programs, or consultants. Or you take up your accountability and further grow your capability to drive with data, building the process knowledge of what to fix, and be consistent and disciplined in executing the fixes, beyond the borders of a project. Move away from rationalization “You can’t fix what you can’t see” and join many others in making data-driven leadership your everyday habit to sustaining business results. Start with your digital capability to “see”, it makes it a lot easier to architect value realization.

Erik Tieleman is Managing Partner at R&G Global Consultants, located in the Netherlands.


Discuss this topic ?