Article first published Dec. 3, 2019. Image: car speedometer marking top speed
One of the biggest, if not the biggest, complaint about the current economy is that skilled talent is nowhere to be found. But could it be that we are our own worst enemies?
For example, delivery times are getting ever shorter in the B2C (Business to Consumer) market. We’re sold millions of items able to be delivered the same day for free if you have a membership. Last minute gift? No problem. Want some new items for decorating? No problem. Interested in a certain book for the weekend? No problem. Don’t worry, we have it and you’ll get it – today.
Can you imagine home cooked Thanksgiving dinner working this way?
Worse, for your business, are you still wondering why long-term planning skills are in such short supply? If we don’t expect people to plan when they need specific items for themselves, why do we expect them to magically be able to plan when specific items are needed for our business?
Many businesses believe they must provide same day free delivery to be competitive. Things on the consumer side are almost as good as having a Star Trek replicator. Our business processes are designed to make consumer planning irrelevant – until, of course, it isn’t and then people are stuck not knowing how to get out of the difficulties they find themselves in. With the faster flow of data and new methods of delivery (like uber packages), we are using technology embedded in our processes to reduce very skill sets we hope to hire in our talent.
Don’t plan because we’ll get it to you today. Don’t think because we’ll put in AI. Don’t look for risk because we’ll automate that.
I’m not against technology and embedding it into processes. In fact, my business specializes in how to embed the correct technology for your performance. I am against a company complaining about lack of skills when its own business practices emphasize the “no need for this skill”.
I’m also against not analyzing what is really valued by the customer and molding customer behavior; which may include the customer learning to wait for non-critical items because it supports the values and culture of the business being bought from. Save the emergency deliveries for the real time sensitive things, like human organ transport, or those rare occasions when you really do need same day delivery (and pay for same day delivery because it has costs).
But, the argument goes, we’ll go out of business if we don’t provide this service to our customers.
Which brings us to the opposite side of the equation – our customers.
It’s well documented that a large percentage of today’s digital native Millennials, Gen-Z’s, and other demographics will not work for a company, even if offered a very attractive hiring package, if the company does not have a bigger purpose. Bigger purpose is usually equated with some aspect of protecting or saving the earth. It’s one of the “P’s” in People, Profit, Planet; the triple bottom line.
Yet how many of those same people purchase and click for same day delivery because they can get it? Is everything really critical?
How many people buy something because automation suggests it to them, not because they want or need it?
How many app’s are created to solve a problem so we don’t have to think through it thoroughly?
Yet we need specific skills of planning, risk management, and problem solving to create and service the very processes and systems we’re creating. We’re eradicating, or severely lessening, the skills of planning, risk management, and problem solving that we so desperately need.
To get same day delivery, advanced systems must be put in place. Agility is critical to accommodate constantly changing demand. Co-bots and AR are implemented for rapid picking. Data use is massive and must be instantaneously updated for rapid adjustment of forecasts and deliveries. Docks are stuffed with smaller transport vehicles for delivery of the eaches purchased. And all that smaller and extra transport feeding in to streets not designed to handle the immense traffic required by same day delivery of toothbrushes, sweaters, and gaming devices. Increased traffic is created by fossil fuel burning transport vehicles. The very same fossil fuel the very same people ordering same day delivery demand companies to reduce their usage of.
Which leads one to wonder; why is everyone chosen to do the right thing. What about us?
Creates quite a quandary.
It is also very expensive for businesses. We haven’t even touched the reverse supply chain which handles returns. About 30% of everything bought online is returned. Why go to a drop-off point or gather multiple things together over a period of time for a single pick up if returns will be picked up individually at individual locations on request? Add more traffic and fossil fuel burning which is very expensive for the earth, too.
As you plan your business strategy for 2020, keep in mind your goals on a variety of issues and be creative in how to create win-win situations for that triple bottom line. Think of…
…skills you want from talent and whether your processes and offerings are doing everything possible to make the very skills you need of no learning value to those you want to hire. What alternatives are there for you to use that customers will still find acceptable?
…processes and offerings that are “competitive”, yet violate the culture and values your company promotes. This causes your talent to leave, so what can you do to remain competitive while not ignoring the very aspects of your company that people hire in to be a part of?
…what you do as an individual to create false delivery signals of need, when in actuality, delivery could have been slower, more cost effective, and efficient without causing you any inconvenience?
What are the real, wide ranging, total costs of your performance?
How will you plan to make it different?
Keywords and Concepts: business planning, financial planning, technology integration, competitive stance, triple bottom line, logic, risk, talent
Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky is the president of Process & Strategy Solutions Her Recession-Proofing Your Business series helps owners, CEOs, and decision makers plot paths to growth, and increase revenue by eliminating internal chaos through organization customers pay for.
For companies ready to have a financial plan that incorporates your culture and values while making sure your business is still competitive: watch our FREE webinar and start learning how.