Matrix Management

The customer driven matrix – helping Sarah

I was working with the supply chain organisation of one of our Pharma clients recently. The essence of the supply chain is joined up thinking and actions across the traditional functional and geographic silos to stay focused on the end result.

This organisation had taken this to the next level by structuring its communication and thinking around a personalized picture of the customer – everything they do is aimed at “helping Sarah” and she appears in their imagery and communications everywhere.

Senior leaders in this organisation often personalize their speeches by telling stories about the impact of the company products on real people and in some cases sharing the impact on members of their own families.

It’s a very powerful approach and keeps people focused on the real world results of their actions. That focus on the external customer and what we can each do to help her goes a long way to creating a joined up way of thinking across the departments and locations that make up their business (not only in supply chain).

A lot of the success of supply chain integration generally is down to improved information flow connecting everyone from the end customer to the supplier of raw materials with a common information flow and measure of success. Personalizing an individual customer helps add an emotional component to this, it’s not just about 98% completed orders, it’s about helping Sarah.

Understanding the impact of your work on real people is an important factor in promoting productivity, quality, safety and ethical behavior.

It was noticeable at this supply chain conference that there were relatively few numbers, flow charts and graphs. Most of the discussion was about values and ways of working – but the overarching objective was to help a real person live better – that’s something that helps everyone across the matrix put in a little extra.

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