CILT Annual Conference
What is the CILT?
The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) in the UK is the membership organisation for professionals involved in the movement of goods and people and their associated supply chains.
Members of the Institute are involved in the management and design of infrastructure, systems, processes and information flows and in the creation, management and development of effective organisations. The work of their members impacts directly on people, society and the environment, on business profitability and economic growth. Their vision is for The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport to enable innovation, excellence and value creation for both individuals and corporate bodies by being the leading membership organisation and education provider within our community of professionals.
What is their Mission?
Their mission is to add value to individual and corporate members by enhancing their knowledge, careers, and businesses by setting, supporting and delivering professional standards and education and by promoting logistics, transport and their associated supply chains to society as a whole.
On an annual basis, CILT will host a conference for professionals within this field to network, discuss and learn from one another. This years conference was called ‘Leading Innovation for Success’ where speakers from all professions and walks of life share their experience and knowledge with members in attendance. From owners of multi-million turnover companies discussing their motivation for innovation, to HMRC staff discussing the uncertainty of friction less boarders following Brexit, there was something for everyone.
2018 – Leading Innovation for Success
There was definitely a single word throughout the day that was repeated on an hourly basis. A single word that could panic even the strongest of companies. That word was uncertainty.
Listening to all of the speakers that day repeat how uncertain everything is within this profession shook a few nerves however this word became to be a welcomed word to our ears by the end of the day. What would life be if everything was set in stone, if you knew what was round every single corner? Most likely extremely boring and not very productive. You would become complacent, accepting of yours or your company’s destiny, with very little motivation to innovate for success. However, with uncertainty round every corner, you have to be reactive and adapt, think outside of the box and most importantly be one step in front of your competitor.
This conference is definitely one of those ‘mind-blown’ moments where you have to sit back and take a minute. Has this day just taught you to not trust anything or anyone? To always be prepared for the worst? Yes – and do you know what, if you do not do this, you are preparing to fail. As your standard thought process has been questioned, even destroyed, it’s time to rebuild…. Re-build how I hear you ask?
One of the most effective speakers of the day for me was Chris Ward, who discussed ‘Innovation – in Service of What’. When innovating, marketing or developing products or the brand of your company, you need to be specific. Obvious – Not really. Many companies we all know and like innovate everywhere – they follow the motto of ‘all advertising is good advertising’. On the other hand, the brands we know and love follow what we know as the ‘Three Value Disciplines’ by M. Treacy and F. Wiersema.
Let me explain:
Companies that pursue the this discipline, product leadership, strive to produce a continuous stream of state-of-the-art products and services. Reaching that goal requires them to challenge themselves in three ways. First, they must be creative. More than anything else, being creative means recognising and embracing ideas that usually originate outside the company. Second, such innovative companies must commercialise their ideas quickly. To do so, all their business and management processes have to be engineered for speed. Third and most important, product leaders must relentlessly pursue new solutions to the problems that their own latest product or service has just solved. If anyone is going to render their technology obsolete, they prefer to do it themselves. Product leaders do not stop for self-congratulation; they are too busy raising the bar. Within this category, we include companies including Dyson, Rolex, Apple, etc. These companies will not lower costs for sales because you purchase their product for the product itself and no other reason. They have the best products and will not negotiate.
The term “operational excellence” describes a specific strategic approach to the production and delivery of products and services. The objective of a company following this strategy is to lead its industry in price and convenience. Companies pursuing operational excellence are indefatigable in seeking ways to minimise overhead costs, to eliminate intermediate production steps, to reduce transaction and other “friction” costs, and to optimise business processes across functional and organisational boundaries. They focus on delivering their products or services to customers at competitive prices and with minimal inconvenience. Because they build their entire businesses around these goals, these organisations do not look or operate like other companies pursuing other value disciplines. Companies within this category include McDonalds, Argos, Aldi, companies who have adapted their processes to be as quick and efficient as possible. It cannot just be me who tries to keep up with the checkout clerk at Aldi right? This is quick easy turnover for these companies and they not only do it well but have it down to a ‘T’.
While companies perusing operational excellence concentrate on making their operations lean and efficient, those perusing a strategy of customer intimacy continually tailor and shape their products and services to fit an increasingly fine definition of the customer. This can be expensive, but customer-intimate companies are willing to spend now to build customer loyalty for the long term. They typically look at the customer’s lifetime value to the company, not the value of any single transaction. This is why employees in these companies will do almost anything—with little regard for initial cost—to make sure that each customer gets exactly what he or she really wants. Dell is one example of such a company; IBM in its heyday was another; Home Depot is a third.
Where does your company sit? What is its primary focus to help conquer the uncertainty that is around every corner? How do you want to drive what you do?