There Were no Couches to Lie On, but Forecasting Therapy Was In Session

Constance Korol http://www.ibf.org

Constance Korol: IBF

The IBF’s 10th annual Supply Chain Forecasting and Planning Conference turned out to be an incredible three days at the Villas of Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando, Florida. We kicked things off with a spectacular golf outing where we got to meet new friends and enjoyed the summer like conditions. We all did our best to navigate the challenging greens and fairways as we competed to place or win a prize donated by our sponsors Forecast Pro. It was exciting to see familiar faces from years past, make new friends, as well as finally meet folks that are in my LinkedIn network. As we had a laugh about our golf game, shared our forecasting challenges with one another, the golf outing became so much more than just an opportunity to simply exchange business cards.

Now that I have returned home and the weatherman is forecasting temperatures in the low teens, I am taking some time to reflect on the conversations I had at lunch and the cocktail reception, as well as the notes taken during the presentations. I found a certain sense of satisfaction for what the IBF does while listening to two attendees describe their past day and a half of learning like therapy sessions.  They just needed a couch and a towel.   They also described some sessions as enjoyable as the new car smell, eye opening.

In my 10 year tenure with the IBF, I don’t think that I can recall ever hearing a planning and forecasting professional say that his or her job was easy. Yet, over the years and certainly in the past couple of days during this conference,  I have met many passionate professionals that work and oversee teams that are willing to fight to keep forecasting and planning at the forefront of critical business practices at the company.

Gaining recognition for demand planning and forecasting continues to be a struggle for many of our attendees and professionals in the field all over the world.  But, many are beginning to realize how special they are to have this challenge.  Those without thick skin, need not apply. There is the necessary effort and energy to learn new tools and establish a process that enables consensus to come together as one. Demand planning & forecasting professionals also need to keep their communication and statistical skills sharp so that they can effectively grow in their career and fight battles with facts and numbers. From all of the nodding heads in the room, we could tell that our Keynote Speaker, Michael Wachtel, Vice President of Demand Planning at L’Oreal, really hit home when he said “Take the emotion out of the room, let the numbers tell the story”.

As a marketer, I chuckled at this at first, since marketers are very often stereotyped as the optimistic ones in the room. Some of that optimism certainly comes from the excitement about a new campaign and ideas that have soared into never never land. This brought to light the reason that there is a need to hold monthly consensus meetings.  Different disciplines have their own battles to fight. From the planning and forecasting perspective, the numbers may be factual, but selling them can be challenging when other disciplines may have stronger personalities or driven by other incentives. With all of these pressures and obstacles, it can be understood that words of encouragement and lessons learned would act as therapy to the group. Hearing someone like Michael Wachtel who is deeply embedded in upper management, speaking from being on the demand planning battlefield, advising those in attendance to stick to the facts and the numbers, must have been very encouraging to those in attendance. Wachtel’s said you have to have courage to prevail in this field.

As gorgeous as the weather was and as serene as the resort had been, the speaker’s messages shined upon the attendees. Lessons were learned, relationships were made, and people were inspired.

I want to offer a public word of thanks to all the speakers for volunteering their time and showing our attendees the way to be strong forecasting and planning professionals.

At the end, it wasn’t so much about receiving “therapy”, but being inspired, learning best practices, and knowing we’re not alone in our journey to improve forecasting and planning performance.

How will you inspire your team to have courage and prevail?

Constance Korol
Director of Marketing
Institute of Business Forecasting and Planning

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