Cover Story: Crafting Success in Supply Chain Transformation

Leading crafts company Creativity Inc. has found that, with a bit of trust and a lot of teamwork, a little consulting can go a long way in addressing supply chain pain points


Reflecting on the factors that contributed to the success in the transformation of his company's supply chain, McLain points to the ability of the team in place within the organization to accept change despite the usual apprehensions about how the change would affect their individual jobs. "Everybody's scared of change, but they got over that very quickly and jumped in, saw the benefits and then really led the change." Asked if, in hindsight, he would have done anything different, McLain concludes, "Other than to call ADR a year earlier, not really."

Sidebar: Communication Lines

Success in a consulting engagement involving significant transformation can depend to a large degree on the lines of communication established between the consultancy and its client, according to Jim Kiser, senior consultant with ADR.

In its engagement with Creativity, ADR established communication at three levels. Bill Michels, ADR's CEO, handled interactions with the topmost executives at the company, while Kiser worked with the senior functional executives, and ADR consultant Dr. Laura Birou worked at the staff level within the function. This allowed ADR to present a uniform message to all levels within Creativity. "We're all in synch," Kiser says, "so there's never a miscue as to what going on."

This strategy also ensures that if a potential roadblock develops while a project is underway, or if a change in tactics is warranted, the issue can be identified, communicated up the chain of command and addressed before it affects the other components of the transformation. "You have to give the top layer of management, whether it's a chairman or a CEO, visibility into what's happening with the project," Kiser explains. "They have to know that so they can make adjustments as to what is best for the company." Below senior management, these lines of communication help assure staff members that they're on the right track and that they have the backing of their top executives. "In the case of Creativity, it helped empower the staff, helped them step up and do things they've never done," Kiser says.

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