Over the past few months, I have had an opportunity to work on projects mostly focused around enabling businesses to be more sustainable in their marine cargo supply chains. While this work was extremely interesting, the overwhelming majority of it had more to do with learning the languages of supply chain procurement, business logistics, and collaborations. Here is a brief summary of what I have learned:
- Everybody reports up, s**t always rolls downhill, and there are always going to be more people involved in a decision that you originally anticipated. The take away here is that it is always important to ensure that you understand the objectives of a business as well as your clients before you make a recommendation. So always start by asking questions, taking notes, and encouraging the company to bring all relevant decision-makers to the table early so that you can get the background and make the right recommendations that will resonate.
- Businesses want to do the right thing – the right thing for their bottom line, their shareholders, their customers, their social license to operate, and the environment. In a world where there is so much chaos and opportunity for improvement, it is important to find the lowest hanging fruit first. Identifying opportunities for business to do the “right thing” that will also positively impact another one of their Key Success Factors (KSFs) and working your way up the tree by building trust and a good working relationship is the key to bringing about more meaningful change in the private sector without having to resort to policy.
- There are two types of organizations: Organizations that want to be ahead of policy, and organizations that are compliance driven. While it is important to keep in contact with both types of organizations, it is even more important to understand that behavior change is a long and arduous process, and your time might be better served working with the cutting edge to then inform sound policy and bring the laggards along that way.
- Understanding inter-company dynamics within a value-chain or business ecosystem is important for the purposes of coalition building. Without profound vertical and horizontal collaboration, progress in the area of efficiency gains and sustainability is virtually impossible.