John_Hobby“The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader” – Derek Sivers

Implementing an S&OP process is a daunting task at most companies, but it is also a great opportunity for mid-level managers to demonstrate leadership and directly affect their company’s bottom line.  Much has been said about “getting executive buy-in” being critical for success, but there are other considerations that are critical as well.  Executives may initially rubber stamp a high level conceptual plan, but you still need to work out the details. This includes policies, business processes, division of responsibilities, address known problems, discover unknown problems, and all of the other things that are necessary before the rubber meets the road. This cannot be done alone. You need to tap into the accumulated knowledge that only exists in a crew of knowledgeable, interested, and invested people from multiple departments and roles in your company.  Until you have them, you are just a lone nut with a crackpot idea.


Who do you need to help you turn your idea into a plan?  Obvious choices are leaders in Sales and Operations, but Inventory, Logistics, IT and Marketing will also make important contributions in identifying and addressing problems as you are developing the process.  Identify a core team of people that have the business knowledge needed and are people you can work with.


So, you have this great idea: S&OP can help your company achieve its goals.  You may also have a list of individuals that you want to approach.  There might even be a VP willing to sponsor your idea.  It is time to start selling your idea and converting others to your point of view.  If S&OP is a new concept then you need to start with education.  That does not mean sending out a Jerry McGuire type manifesto detailing how your company should do things differently.  It means looking someone in the eyes and telling them your ideas.  Leave “S&OP” out of the conversation at this point if you are worried about people getting stuck on labels. Just have a “wouldn’t it be cool if…” conversation in which you map out what is in essence an S&OP process.   Start dancing and see who else can hear the music and joins in.  They are the people who see the potential of your ideas immediately and will offer support, feedback and suggestions.  You should pull them into your camp and take good care of them.


An S&OP implementation needs more than a fan club.  Your crew of interested individuals needs to be turned into a team that has a stake in the outcome of the project.  The core group of early adopters should be welcomed as equals and should know that this is not about you anymore, but about the project and the group.  Rewards and accolades will be shared.  This has the benefit of binding them to the group and encouraging others to get involved.

Now that a motivated and well-rounded team is assembled it can start doing fantastic things, but it took a lone nut that was willing to go for it to get things started.  Do you have what it takes to be a nut?

John Hobby
Manager, Supply Chain Information Systems
Cirrus Logic

Hear John speak more on successfully implementing S&OP at IBF’s Business Planning & Forecasting: Best Practices Conference in Orlando Florida, November 4-6, 2013