One of the best books on business strategy that I have ever read is Good Strategy, Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters by Richard Rumelt, Professor Emeritus at UCLA Anderson. In the book, Rumelt states “Strategy is a cohesive response to an important challenge”.

Right now, we all have no end of important challenges ahead of us as we finally appear to be exiting the emergency phase of the COVID pandemic and entering the endemic phase and you will know best which challenges are the most relevant for your business as you look ahead. But what does “coherent response” mean?

Well, a response implies some action or set of actions, it suggests things must be done or made to happen by acting upon the situation and pulling the levers at our disposal. That the response be coherent conveys the idea that the actions that are taken must be logically connected and must hold together as a consistent whole.

These two ideas are immensely powerful, firstly because “strategy as action” is a concept that many businesses miss completely, rarely moving beyond goal formulation, target setting, exhortations, and incentives, and confusing this with strategy work. And secondly, because too many companies are doing things that are at logical cross purposes with each other thus blunting the overall effect of their endeavours.

This often happens because they have not worked out where their advantages lie, what their priorities are, what they need to be doing, and just as importantly what they need not to be doing. Working through this process and acting in consequence is precisely what real strategy work is all about.

When it comes to supply chain and logistics, examples abound of incoherent responses such as inventory policies that do not match with warehousing capacity, procurement processes that alienate critical business partners and damage mission-critical relationships such as those with logistics services partners, underinvestment in equipment and technology leading to productivity loss and quality issues across the supply chain and many, many more.

So, as we look forward to the challenges ahead, whether they be supply shortages, price inflation, skills and staff shortages, new barriers to trade, stricter environmental standards, challenging business relationships or rising customer expectations, this is a great time to do some real strategy work to identify and go after the opportunities that always arise in times of turbulence and change.

This is not rocket science, and does not take a lot of time, but is does require some serious thinking, the making of some hard choices and taking some important strategic decisions. This is quite different from the mental activities of the day-to-day cut and thrust of running the business and needs to be done purposefully and carefully.

It involves thinking hard about your business and where it already has, or can readily develop, advantage in this new environment that you are going to be operating in. If you would like to discuss how I can help you to do this work and develop and implement coherent responses to your strategic challenges, you can contact me directly on +353 86 811 6030 or, wherever you are in the world, to start the conversation.

21st Century Warehousing: Strategy and Operation

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