S+B: Any other thoughts on what leaders need to do to get through this recession and prepare for the future?
ZAFFRON: Well, some companies are doing well, but for many, it’s a very nasty picture. What happens when people focus on that is that their event horizon shrinks and all they can see is the immediate danger. It’s like they’re a patient in the intensive care unit, and they’re doing everything they can to get out of it. But the question should be: When you come out of the ICU, are you going to build a strong and healthy future for yourself? Leaders need to be setting in motion conversations that really are about the future. What are you going to be when this turns around?
Innovation in supply chain management is too often treated as inessential, something that is nice to have after the basics are in place. By identifying hidden costs and actively seeking innovative ways to address them, Cricket did more than save money — it brought in new revenues. By integrating innovation into a larger strategic approach that reaches across functional areas, all the way to the end customer, Cricket was able to transform cost problems into rich new opportunities. It may be the rare company that grows fast even in a global downturn. Companies that consciously make innovation a key element in supply chain reengineering can gain a competitive edge, even in tough economic times.
- Rob Norton is executive editor of strategy+business.