S&OP and communication; just listen!

Most people would agree that communication is an essential part of running effective S&OP/IBP processes. Or maybe we should say that communication is part of running an effective business! According to the results of the S&OP pulse check 2011, 144 participants from 30 countries indicated in two ways the importance of communication:

1. They voted as key reason to implement S&OP: ‘Improving cross functional communication’

2. They voted as the main cultural change driven by S&OP: ‘Improved understanding and communication between functions’

 A further look in the survey results showed that the satisfaction on the communication between functional area’s increased with the experience a company has with S&OP (see graph). This indicates indeed that S&OP contributes over time to better communication between functions.

If the two sides of communication, listening and providing constructive feedback, are becoming part of the every day embedded behaviours, a company culture of great communication can be established. This is a much needed cornerstone to build a sustainable S&OP process. It will take a while and a lot of effort, before you create a culture of great communicators. In Stephen Coveys book ‘the seven habits of highly effective people’ he addresses the behavioural effectiveness of ‘seek to understand to be understood’. He identifies 5 ways of listening:

1. Ignoring; 2. Pretending; 3. Passive listening; 4. Active listening; 5. Listen with empathy

You know you have not yet established an effective S&OP meeting and a culture of great communicators, when your S&OP attendees:

–          are texting on their mobile phone

–          run out of the meeting to solve issues or get a coffee

–          look at their fingernails, or worse, clean them!

–          yawn for half the meeting

–          start conversation amongst themselves

–          are dreaming about anything but S&OP, while pretend to listen

–          typing on their laptops or continuously writing notes

 What to do if you observe this type of listening? Well, first make sure you have exciting news to tell and important decisions to make in your S&OP meeting. Secondly; take responsibility for your part of the communication equation and start to provide constructive feedback to address the behaviour.

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