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New Year’s Resolutions: A Different Take

By APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi CSCP, CPA, CAE | 0 | 0 | January 04, 2013

New Year’s Resolutions: A Different Take

It’s the first week of January, a common time for us to evaluate our lives and maybe make one or more of those famous New Year’s resolutions. In fact, according to Statistic Brain, the most common New Year’s resolution for Americans is to lose weight, followed by get organized and spend less. Of course, the website also reports that while 45 percent of Americans usually make a New Year’s resolution, only 8 percent are successful in achieving that resolution. 

This year, I encourage you to think differently about resolutions. Consider how you can take steps to make your career healthier. In “Strategic Leadership: The Essential Skills,” which appears in the January/February issue of the Harvard Business Review, Paul J.H. Schoemaker, Steve Krupp, and Samantha Howland lay out six skills that “when mastered and used in concert, allow leaders to think strategically and navigate the unknown effectively.” The six skills are [the ability to]

  • anticipate,
  • challenge,
  • interpret,
  • decide,
  • align, and
  • learn.

The authors offer tips on improving these six skills. For example, to hone anticipating skills, they advise talking to customers, suppliers, and other partners to understand their challenges; using scenario planning to conceive of a variety of futures and “prepare for the unexpected;” attending conferences and events in other industries or functions; and more.

Up first under the recommendations for improving challenge abilities is focusing on the root causes of problems rather than the symptoms—looking at the five whys. The APICS Dictionary, 13th Edition, defines the five whys as follows: “The common practice in total quality management is to ask ‘why’ five times when confronted with a problem. By the time the answer to the fifth ‘why’ is found, the ultimate cause of the problem is identified.” I know that readers in the APICS community are familiar with this concept. Also included is encouraging debate and including “naysayers” in the decision-making process.

Learning in the New Year

It should come as no surprise that “learn” is an essential skill for strategic leadership. “Strategic leaders are the focal point for organizational learning,” Schoemaker, Krupp, and Howland write. “They promote a culture of inquiry, and they search for the lessons in both successful and unsuccessful outcomes.” 

Among the authors’ recommendations for improving the skill of learning are rewarding managers who try something impressive but fail in terms of outcomes; conducting annual learning audits to determine where decisions and team interactions may have been unsuccessful; and indentifying initiatives that are not producing as expected and examining the root causes. 

Your connection to APICS can enhance your ability, not only to learn, but to anticipate, challenge, interpret, decide, and align as well. Whether you attend an APICS conference, earn your APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management or Certified Supply Chain Professional designation, or participate in your first (or 50th) APICS professional development meeting, APICS prepares you to be a strategic leader. Browse apics.org to see where APICS can take you in 2013.

I encourage you to continue this discussion in the Operations Management Now communityon the APICS Supply Chain Channel.

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