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Does the individual matter in the supply chain?

  • General News
  • 1st April 2017

This approach allows us to appropriately consider the so called ‘people’ dimension in the management of supply chain risk. That way you get a more complete picture of what is going on behind decisions that determine supply chain risk strategies.

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In addition to the structural and technical aspects of managing supply chain risk, there is another set of crucial variables – the human variables that need to be considered if we are to fully understand how supply chain risks are perceived, how they are assessed and how supply chain risk management decisions are made.

Despite seeming to be the case, decisions are never made by a supply chain; they are made by people within the supply chain. That is why we need a behavioural approach to supply chain risk management just as much as we need other approaches to help us shed light on that particular factor in the equation.

Supply chain risk, especially when it comes to probability and estimated frequency of supply chain disruptions is still very much down to the individual perception of the supply chain managers. The impact of supply chain disruptions is usually easier to estimate because companies can work with financial records. The probability that a supply chain disruption will occur is much more difficult to estimate. This is usually where the individual perception of the supply chain manager and their ability to process received data takes the lead.

We all perceive risk in a way that deviates from what is so called unbounded rationality. It means that we, due to time constraints, unlimited transparency of information, etc., as a rule will not be able analyse the whole situation or environment. To a certain extent or perhaps a large extent they will have to rely on our own perception of risk.

Other factors which come in are individual differences. With personality traits, individual cognitive biases, judgment and decision making biases, and differences such as past experiences, individual working style, problem solving style, coping with uncertainty, ambiguous situations etc. all making a potential difference. The individual behind the chain is much more important than the chain itself. So surely having a particular personality type is more beneficial to specific roles?

What is the best personality type?

Obviously, supply chain managers have a tremendous impact on the success of an organisation and often make decisions which dictate the direction of the supply chain. These managers are engaged in every facet of the business process – planning, purchasing, production, transportation, storage & distribution, customer service, and more! In short, these managers are the glue that connects the different parts of the organisation. Their performance helps organisations control expenses, boost sales, and maximise profits.

Two additional roles focus on facilitation and collaboration. Because supply chain managers touch so many different parts of the business, they are in a unique position to help other functions execute their strategies. They are also called upon to diagnose and support the needs of external supply chain partners.

Timely customer communication and technology-enabled visibility allows companies to monitor product flows and collaboratively respond to potential delivery problems.

The nature of supply chain jobs varies greatly. At one end of the spectrum are operations-focused positions. These action-oriented roles involve the day-to-day management of people and product flows. You would likely be working in a distribution facility, port, terminal, or operations centre. At the other end of the spectrum are planning-oriented positions. These office-based positions focus on supply management; demand forecasting, inventory control, performance analysis, or troubleshooting customer problems.

What can all these different aspect of the roles mean? It means there is no-one personality type best suited to a particular supply chain role. Each personality type, whether an ENTJ; Extrovert, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving, or an ISTJ; Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging, there will be a specialised role perfectly suited to your strengths.

Each role presents a different type of SCM career starting point. Whether you prefer to work with a team of people to achieve tangible results, develop processes to improve performance, or apply technology to analyse data, there are ample supply chain opportunities waiting for you!
These careers are available in a wide variety of organisations – manufacturers, retailers, transportation companies, third party logistics firms, government agencies, and service firms. The array of companies needing supply chain expertise is nearly endless.

The same can be said for any role. An overabundance of a particular personality type and the skills that come with it create ‘skills saturation. ’A diverse range of skills and abilities is required in any situation – this extends to all roles within supply chain management. It’s important to recognise your strengths and understand your weaknesses to work effectively. Excel at what you’re good at and seek help in your problem areas.

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