Resolving Conflict & Building Consensus in the Monthly S&OP Process

Alan Milliken - BASF

Alan Milliken - BASF

This past week the mighty LA Lakers, were swept by the Dallas Mavericks in four games.  The Lakers had won two straight NBA titles and were favorites of many to three-peat.  Immediately after the 4th loss, which turned out to be one of the five worst losses of  series deciding games in the history of the NBA, rumors began to circulate about conflicts within the organization.

Several experts said that fans should expect to see many changes within the Lakers Organization coming soon that would affect members  from top to bottom.  They commented that LA had not reached a consensus in regards to what is the best strategy or the best way to approach the execution of that strategy. .  There appeared to be disconnects between upper management and the coach as well as between the coach and the players.

The LA Lakers example exemplifies the fact that   it might be easy to bring a group of professionals together and say they are a team but achieving teamwork that leads to overall organizational success is much more difficult.  This  also makes it clear that spending money and throwing resources at a process does not guarantee success.  Quite often in sports when the under-dog wins you hear folks say, they may  not have the best resources but they had the better team.

The same principles apply to businesses and the S&OP process.  A strong S&OP Team can be the difference between winning and losing.  Conflict among team members and lack of consensus on the game plan can lead to disaster. Failure to gain commitment from all key stake holders can derail the process.  LA’s bench (reserves) were totally outplayed by the Dallas reserves.  We must always remember that operational excellence is driven by People-Process-Technology but only one has the ability to think and act accordingly.

Strong teams must be able to anticipate change and respond to issues in real-time whether they work in business or in sports.  Dallas’s strategy was to post up outside 3-point shooters, move the ball inside and then pass outside to take the open 3-point shot and LA was slow to recognize and even slower to respond. . Likewise, S&OP cannot be effective unless team members can quickly change plans and execute  the new plan.  If your competitor has decided to take some 3-point shots you had better be able to quickly mount the proper defense.  Those who cannot do so will find themselves trying to explain their ineptness to their fans in sports or in the case of S&OP to the Board of Directors.

If you are wondering what happened to the Lakers or more importantly why  your S&OP Team is not winning, you should attend the Best-of-the-Best S&OP Conference in Chicago.

There you will learn:

  • The latest technology trends with software providers on the leading edge.
  • How successful firms leverage people-process-technology to improve performance?
  • How to design planning processes and configure software to enable best practices?
  • How to build teamwork and consensus that results in winning.

Attend the IBF’s Best-of-the-Best S&OP Conference in Chicago this June.

Alan L. Milliken,  Business Process Education Manager
BASF Corporation

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