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  • Writer's pictureNeil James

Building High-Performance Capabilities for IBP Deployment Leaders

IBP adoption or enhancement programmes are typically complex and demand both significant investment and widespread change in the organisation. It is therefore crucial that the business can provide practical support to the programme leader and this should include a tailored approach to build critical capabilities in the programme leader.

The previous article in this series proposed the top 3 capabilities required in leaders of IBP deployment. These capabilities, essential for overcoming the diverse challenges faced in IBP adoption, are:

· Creating a clear and practical vision

· Engaging and influencing across the business

· Applying change management practices

Frameworks for defining capability typically use the 3 dimensions of Knowledge, Skills and Mindsets (or in some cases Attitudes) – as summarised in Figure 1. Exploring these dimensions of capability in detail allows a specific and practical development plan to be created.

Figure 1 - Capability defined as a combination of Knowledge, Skills & Mindsets

This is illustrated below by using the example of ‘Engaging & influencing across the business’. This capability is concerned with positioning with IBP across the business, building awareness and understanding and extending this, through targeted and impactful communication, to create deep engagement in the new process. This capability can be categorised into the 3 dimensions in order to provide the starting point for a tailored development plan;

1. Knowledge

In order to build a compelling case for IBP, both at enterprise level and in specific functions (eg Supply Chain, Commercial and Finance in particular), the deployment lead must have sound knowledge of the business context. This starts with a broad understanding at enterprise level of strategy, current performance, key strategic risks and opportunities and the medium-term outlook for the business. This context provides the backdrop for all executive decision-making and any IBP proposals will be referenced against this by C-suite leaders when evaluating the impact of IBP and their personal engagement and support for the programme.

The deployment leader also requires strong awareness and knowledge within the key functions that will be asked to participate in IBP (and that typically means Supply Chain, Commercial & Finance teams). Whilst the overall enterprise context applies to all functions, each function will also have its own specific plans, key drivers, KPIs and culture. Understanding these features and how they align (or misalign) across functions and with the overall enterprise goals is an important backdrop to the challenge of IBP deployment. As IBP drives cross-functional working with the goal of optimised enterprise-level decision-making, the degree of underlying alignment and collaboration is important for the deployment lead to understand when engaging the various teams in the plans for IBP and its impact.

Clearly, the IBP programme leader must also have sound knowledge and understanding of the IBP process in order to plan its deployment into the business. It is interesting to note that, in most cases, a supply chain leader is selected for their conceptual knowledge of IBP. However, an individual from either the commercial or finance functions may bring broader organisational awareness to the role of IBP deployment leader even if they are then required to build a detailed understanding of the IBP process.

2. Skills

In order to engage and influence across the business, a range of skills is required by the IBP deployment leader to create compelling reasons to engage and then to personally communicate these in order to engage and influence target stakeholders.

Storytelling competencies help create the structure and flow of convincing arguments to engage and influence stakeholders. However, the IBP deployment leader also requires a range of practical skills to deliver these narratives and interact effectively with stakeholders. The foundation for these important competencies includes the basics of sound presentation skills but could also include more advanced skills such as the application of personality typing (eg Myers-Briggs/MBTI) to tailor communication style for maximum impact.

It is also important for the IBP deployment lead to build confidence in managing and facilitating open discussions on the topic of IBP and its impact across the business. Introductory presentations cannot address all the questions and concerns of stakeholders on the detail of IBP impact and it is important to both provide clarification and also listen to the concerns and challenges of affected groups as these are crucial to the development of a compelling and inclusive change programme.

3. Mindsets

The foundations of knowledge and skill described above are critical capabilities for the deployment leader, but these can be significantly muted (or amplified) by their underlying mindsets. Identifying and considering these is a valuable process for the IBP deployment lead.

It is important to identify any mindsets, beliefs or assumptions which may affect the ability of the deployment leader to drive change with IBP, either positive or negatively. In many cases, the individual may not even be aware that they carry these mindsets and therefore a supportive development environment (eg with support from a coach or mentor) is required to recognise, discuss and reflect on them.

Examples of limiting mindsets in the context of IBP deployment might include a lack of conviction on the enterprise-wide value of the process (eg “This is really a supply chain process, the commercial team will not engage with it fully”) or the ability to retain organisational focus on the change programme (eg “There is a long way to go to get to full process maturity and teams will not stay engaged”). In each case it is important to understand the sources of the mindset and how best to manage them in the context of the IBP execution programme.

It is also important to identify the key enabling mindsets (and their associated behaviours) that drive successful IBP adoption. For example, a deployment mentality committed to tenacious implementation is especially helpful in the context of a complex and challenging change such as IBP deployment where success is often built over a period of many months in which small steps forward across a range of activities accumulate to deliver tangible improvements. Similarly, a mindset which targets real-world business value from the process rather than theoretical/conceptual perfection is critical.

Figure 2 - The application of the Knowledge, Skills & Mindsets to the capability 'Engaging & Influencing across the business'

Summary - Practical Capability Building

The IBP deployment leader will form a team to drive the programme and provide a range of specialist knowledge and skills (eg communications, finance etc) which are important to the success of the project and on which the leader can rely. However, this does not reduce the need for the leader to acquire the critical foundations of knowledge and skills to lead this team and to make sound judgements on the development and execution of the deployment plan. Leader mindsets also have a very significant effect on the leadership of both team and task and, regardless of the specialist functional support available to the leader, this area represents a key element of the development plan.

A practical approach is therefore needed to support the IBP deployment leader and as outlined above, the key capabilities required can be described using 3 key dimensions:

· Knowledge

· Skills

· Mindsets

This enables a structured approach to capability-building and support which will typically use a range of developmental approaches including training, coaching and mentoring. The next article in this series explores some practical and targeted options for these in order to maximise the impact of the IBP deployment leader and, in turn, the IBP adoption programme.

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