It’s January 2007; I work for an industrial company and I manage the development of sourcing activities at an international level. Actually, my career is currently booming and I’m starting a supply chain management training programme at HEC, a leading academic institution specialising in education and research in management sciences. Along with some fellow classmates, including finance specialists, logisticians and marketers, I’m getting ready to attend my first organisation class.
We’re all seated around a table with a professor who is… well, very different. We’re about to play something called the beer game. We have to simulate a retail supply chain (plant, distributor, wholesaler, retailer) for beer and make sure it suffers no interruptions. We all throw each other a somewhat doubtful look, because we have no spreadsheets, no calculator; in our hands we are holding very full pints of beer that are just waiting to be downed… no, I’m joking… all we have are some tokens on the table and some sketched storage facilities.
And the professor simulates the consumers that come in to stock up week after week…, we have to move inventory, manage stock, build a strategy, optimise the cost of the distribution chain… it seems easy enough until the first stockouts start to loom. We all look at each other. We try to figure out who’s responsible and make the decisions that seem to make the most sense! But in the end our results are pretty disastrous…
It’s not until the debriefing that I understand what this game is teaching us: besides flow behaviour techniques, we look at human behaviours in a value chain… we talk about communication; visions of reality; the preconceived ideas we cling to; the importance of seeing the big picture; the system; self-control…
From that moment, everything shifted in my mind… it seemed so obvious to me that there is another form of intelligence that I can put to good use for the system, the project, my company; an intelligence that connects both sides of my brain: the right side, the home of the emotions which gives us direction, where we find our drive, our energy, and the left brain, which is the more analytical side that elaborates strategies. This is something that I can experience and feel when I’m working with multidisciplinary and multicultural teams, but I’d never put my finger on it in such an obvious way.
From there, I focused my research, my reading and my training on soft skills, as opposed to hard skills; in other words, the behavioural and interpersonal skills that bring energy to a value chain.
And what drives me today, through the solutions offered by CM Change & motion, is sharing these discoveries and helping other managers, executives and entrepreneurs who want to encourage the development of both business skills and social skills in their life and their company, in order to change and innovate at a faster pace.