Earlier this year I spoke at the Australian S&OP forum 2013. On the first day of this event, Oliver Wight spoke on the evolution of S&OP and they discussed the ‘chasm’ in S&OP. The term ‘the chasm’ comes from the book ‘Crossing the chasm’ by Geoffrey Moore. Moore used the chasm to describe the difficulty in a (product) lifecycle go from early adopters or visionaries to the early majority. According to Oliver Wight S&OP has crossed the chasm of early adopters and is becoming mainstream and accepted as best practice. Although there are still too many different definitions of S&OP out there, I agree with Oliver Wight.
My presentation was about how to create and sustain a culture of S&OP and how we need to start using our right brain to do that. I tell you why we need our right brain more. The biggest change we have to go through when implementing S&OP is to start thinking horizontally rather than vertically. We have to start crossing the borders of our silo’s to start communicating and collaborating with other functions. Thinking horizontally means thinking holistic. Thinking holistic is a right brain activity.
Crossing the silos is hard for us, as historically we are wired to stay in our silo. That’s just our survival instincts. Staying in our own clan or herd, means risk reduction, certainty, safety and a higher change to survive. Only when our survival is threatened we will go outside our herds, take risks to try and survive. Our survival in business is now threatened if we don’t cross the borders and exchange better and more complete information for agile, fast decision making. If we want to cross a silo effectively, we have to understand the other silo’s motivations, goals and feelings. We need to have empathy for the other silo. Feelings and empathy are right brain activities.
The last thirty years we have made great progress in developing supply chain management and S&OP form a left brain perspective. As I described three years ago, it is now time for the behavioural supply chain , or the ‘right brain’ supply chain. We’re three years on and unfortunately I don’t see many signs that we’re getting closer in crossing the chasm from left brain to right brain supply chain thinking.