And then the last of the core capabilities that we are applying universally across the ISC is "apply on demand principles." IBM wants its people to be able to understand the on demand strategy, the attributes of being an on demand organization, and to be able to demonstrate in their specific business areas that they can be that responsive to customer needs or market conditions, and that they can be adaptive and fast-moving, as is required in an on-demand environment.
S&DCE: Some of these core skills could perhaps be taught in a classroom, but some of them sound more like a change in attitude. Is that what you're finding?
Cantwell: I'm glad that you picked up on that. One of things that Bob Moffat says all the time is that one of the greatest challenges in working with the people is going to be the ability to change the culture, not just the people skills. The people have shown over the years that they're pretty adaptable when it comes to learning new skills, applying new processes or learning new systems. But the culture change aspects [of the on demand supply chain] are going to involve getting people to break down the barriers between their business operation and the next business operation, and to work as an integrated team instead of just the silo organizations that we're so used to.
S&DCE: What is the practical impact going to be on people within the strategic sourcing organization? How is it going to affect their normal workday as they come in thinking "on demand" as opposed to how they used to operate?
Cantwell: It's funny, because we had been asking ourselves that very question as we thought about how to get the ISC strategy to really resonate with the individual.
In some cases, some jobs are so necessarily functionally oriented — if you're a procurement professional, for example, and your business is to develop the best strategy for buying software — that maybe the deep functional experts in that process aren't going to see as dramatic a day-to-day change in their own work as they will in the organization as a whole and in the process around them, because their functional expertise is going to remain very important.
But others in the organization are going to need to come out of their functional discipline way of thinking to really understand how they link up with other processes in the supply chain. Traditionally we, as IBMers, have grown up in our silo organizations. You start out in procurement, you get more and more proficient at that, and you move around in procurement — but it's always procurement. We haven't been as adept at moving people between functional organizations, moving people from procurement into customer fulfillment, or from manufacturing into IT and process transformation, for example. So, one thing we're doing, just as an example, is building a process around what we call talent exchange. We're trying to create some movement, some opportunity for our people to move across the various functions to develop a broader understanding of what the other pieces of the Integrated Supply Chain do as organizations. We want these folks to be able to figure out more quickly how the integration will work, how we will synch up the customer-facing processes with the supplier-facing processes so we can get that quick ask-answer that I was talking about earlier.
S&DCE: What other educational efforts are being undertaken to get people up and running with the on demand supply chain concepts?
Cantwell: We have in IBM a business process around identifying individuals' skill gaps. This is part of people's individual development plans for where they're taking their careers. As part of that process, employees participate in a skills assessment: They essentially self-assess where they are in any number of core skills that are critical to their function, and then the manager validates the assessment. That creates the opportunity for a manager-employee discussion around what the employee's strengths and weaknesses are, what skills they have, what skills they need for where they want to take their career and, once those gaps are known, how to close the gaps.
Now, the ISC is adding [to the self-assessment process] the core skills that are most critical for the Integrated Supply Chain professional. Right now those involved are working across the ISC to identify the areas of the most significant skills gaps, and where those are identified, they become the highest priority for work to fill those gaps, whether through traditional training with an instructor or — more and more — education and training on the Web.