Gaining a Supply Chain Edge

The NCAA Final Four: A Case Study in Talent, Teamwork, Leadership and Strategy

It's that magical time of year again when we step out of "March Madness" into "April Amazement." Amazement at the talents of the final four teams, that is!

Watching the games over the weekend, it occurred to me that the NCAA Basketball Tournament is a classic study on what it takes to reach the highest levels of performance in a highly competitive environment - one that is not unlike today's business world. Just like the final four teams, companies need to have talented people, leaders who can take charge, organizational balance and depth, clearly defined roles, and excellent strategies and plans.

Talented people are the main ingredient in a successful business, just as gifted players are the key to a winning team. Talented people provide the experience and know-how. They are physically and mentally able to put forth the effort to get the job done, whether increasing market share/ROA or profitability or making the final 3-point shot to win the game.

Without the point-guard as the basketball team leader, who would run the team's offense and make sure the ball gets in the right hands? Likewise, without a good leader to set the example, where would companies look for inspiration and guidance? Great business leaders and team leaders keep engaging the right resources to bring about success both in the business markets as well as on the hardwood.

Organizational balance and depth is the third key ingredient for success. Teamwork, regardless of whether it involves a round ball or an important strategy is required to stay ahead in the game. Chemistry, cooperation and collaboration are also necessities in order to optimize results - be it on the court or in the conference room.

And a team doesn't just start running like a well-oiled machine; clearly defined roles are necessary for this to happen. People and players are coached to understand their roles in making the team better, and each one's skills and knowledge are tapped for the benefit of the whole.

Last but not least, a successful business cannot exist without strategies and plans. I mean could you imagine a final four team without an outstanding coach backed by a winning playbook? Doesn't exist. This all-essential playbook is understood and supported by the team while still allowing for real-time fine tuning as the game progresses. Similarly, with company executives (just like basketball players), a strong coach and a winning playbook are required and the organization must possess the ability to shift plans and strategies based on the competition and environment. Regardless of the score, a mindset of alignment with the strategy while deploying continuous improvement is vital to winning the game.

Although the sun has set on this year's national basketball tournament, it never sets in the world of global business or the global supply chain. That's one reason I am excited to be involved in this year's Supply Chain Leadership Forum coming up in September in Chicago. At this event, member companies learn how to continuously improve by benchmarking their performances against competitors, networking with peers, and understanding how to best utilize their talented teams.

If you're interested, click here . This event may not be as exciting as last night's game from a competitive perspective, but I assure you it will be more exciting from a growth and learning perspective.

Go!Go!Go!

Jim

TAGS: Supply Chain
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