So, here’s a bit of news that is a change of pace for this regular column. I’ve undergone my own metamorphosis; I’m officially a podcaster! Our new podcast, “Distribution on the Cusp of Metamorphosis,” launched in mid-March. The first two episodes are now available just about anywhere you can get podcasts: Apple, Google, Spotify and several other podcast hosts.
So far, I’ve been gratified with the number of “listens” and subscriptions — the commonly used metrics for podcasters. My podcast advisors tell me not to expect to go viral as only already “famous” personalities manage that feat. Well, I guess I can take that hit to my ego, realizing that not everyone is into distribution topics. As I have learned for more than 13 years publishing our monthly MCA Talk newsletter — it is a function of drip, drip, drip.
Also, The Wholesaler magazine is one of our podcast sponsors. Thank-you, TW! Yes, in podcasting, having sponsors is important, too!
Anyway, please excuse what might seem like shameless self-promotion to describe my own example of metamorphosis and how I communicate with my audience. It’s just a way of leading into and emphasizing the real metamorphosis — the continuous improvement — that’s now going on in distribution.
It’s happening in marketing and sales to e-commerce, supply chain, customer order fulfillment, delivery and more — all those critical functionalities and processes within your value stream that you own.
The Emergence of the Strategic Leader
The times we find ourselves in — COVID-19 enhanced — are frequently described as the “emergence of the strategic leader,” now driving some to the cusp of metamorphosis and beyond.
For as long as the word “metamorphosis” has been used, most managers have been tactical — focused on getting the stuff out the door in the most efficient and timely manner possible. Execution and firefighting historically were highly valued skills. Whether those same skills will serve tomorrow’s distribution managers is still very much up in the air.
Transforming your value stream from tactical to strategic is a key challenge to delivering on a business’ go-to-market strategy. Start by focusing on different outcomes, such as responsiveness, innovation and the sustainability of the progress made. I guess the question is, will organizations have what it takes to create and continue this change, this metamorphosis?
In a recent survey published in CIO Journal, being tech-savvy was seen as important (including the ability to understand and integrate the technological capabilities offered in today’s technology marketplace). But the management skills causing the greatest amount of concern were critical thinking and problem-solving. At both the manager and executive level, is a new type of leader needed to manage this transformation, this metamorphosis?
While this may sound, initially, a bit simplistic, there may be evidence to support these observations. A potential crisis could be averted by focusing on identifying the developments affecting an organization’s future within any of the value-stream components.
Further, look at those components not just as a solution but rather as a set of capabilities that can determine what the organization can and cannot do to align with the desired outcomes prized by key customers and the strategic promises made, as contained in your value proposition. Managers and senior executives will need to speak the same business language here.
The Challenges and the Traits to Meet Them
In an upcoming column, we’ll continue this metamorphosis conversation and offer some further clarification of the challenges and changes now taking place in distribution that need to be addressed. I’ll also include our view of the traits required by strategic-focused leaders to meet this new distribution environment, which is focused on outcomes rather than solutions.
I expect that among the topics we’ll be discussing will be (not intended as an exhaustive list):
Thought processes and approach; it’s heady stuff. Welcome to the conversation! Looking forward to “talking” with you next time.