Andrew Burak, the CEO of Relevant, shared his belief that without an active innovation culture, organizations fall into stagnation and lose to more innovative competitors. Today’s supply chain crises from Covid-19 and the Ukrainian – Russian war require ongoing organizational agility, innovation, and speed.

The culture of innovation boils down to perceiving creativity as a virtue, not a nuisance, Burak writes. It is a freedom to express your ideas, regardless of how little experience you have, because there can be a seed of solution in a fresh look at the problem.

Sadly, though, Burak’s organization mostly sees enterprises where employees are in a never-ending battle to meet the quarterly goals and keep the team motivated to do the same thing the same way, over and over again. Burnouts, loss of interest in self-development, passiveness are just some of the traits of the managerial body in large companies. And the larger the business, the bigger the scale of the problem. After all, it’s much safer to follow instructions than suggest new ideas and risk them becoming empty expenses.

Besides — and let’s be honest with ourselves here, Burak writes — while many companies state they are innovative, or at least assert the importance of innovation, few invest enough effort into it. Becoming innovative requires C-level executive buy-in, reallocation of resources within the company, updating processes, schedule adjustments, and a lot of daily work that doesn’t bear immediate fruit. That is why so many companies take their innovation culture initiatives halfheartedly or drop them along the way.

At InnovationOne LLC, we, like Relevant, have seen organizations take our InnovationOne Culture Index, but too many times, they do not implement our recommendations wholeheartedly.

However, nothing drives innovation like an immediate crisis that threatens the organization’s future. Covid 19 in 2020 drove many innovations:

  • Honeywell ramped up production of personal protective equipment (PPE) to help health care workers and created a range of new devices, including those that can see what is in the air or screen temperatures rapidly.
  • Medtronic responded to the dearth of the supply of ventilators by making ventilators for the first time and increasing ventilator production five-fold.
  • Space-X helped Medtronic by temporarily producing a critical ventilator valve.
  • Microbreweries across the world made sanitizers.

A new disruption is unfolding today, the reordering of the global supply chain due to the upheaval caused by the pandemic, and now further exacerbated due to the Ukrainian – Russian war.

Once again, companies need to be resilient and innovative because nearly every organization’s supply chain routines have been overturned.

According to a Dun and Bradstreet report, at least 374,000 businesses worldwide rely on Russian suppliers, and at least 241,000 businesses across the world rely on Ukrainian suppliers. Countries with impacted supply chains include the U.S., Canada, Italy, Australia, China, and Brazil.

In the near term, many companies can rely on their alternative suppliers to fill resource gaps in their supply chain. But the long term is different. Below are Dunn and Bradstreet best practices to create an agile and innovative supply chain to help weather current and future disruptions.

  • Develop a risk-based assessment process to identify specific risks that could impact the productivity of your supply chain. Create a plan that supports a flexible and agile network, regardless of circumstances and unexpected events.
  • Conduct an assessment that maps out your suppliers and their suppliers. The goal is to gain visibility of your suppliers and to know their locations, which provides a better grasp of region-specific risks that could impact supply availability.
  • Continuously monitor your supply chain. Enedsure that you are monitoring the risks associated with suppliers to ensure your company has a complete view of your supply chain.
  • Identify alternative suppliers for urgently needed goods in higher-risk regions. Determine how long it would take to onboard them and how quickly they could deliver to your location. Will it be faster than waiting for shipments from your original supplier, depending on the type of disruptive event that might occur?
  • Invest in data and analytics. Today’s supply chain leaders are challenged by disparate systems and dispersed data. Making technology investments today allows companies to better manage supply chain risk — giving them greater transparency into their entire supplier network, while also serving up the data and insight needed to make informed decisions, particularly during unexpected events.

These crises demonstrate that companies can no longer depend on the status quo. Executives that invest in an innovation culture, as recommended by Andrew Burak, will be the first movers to find solutions to overcome their supply chain disruptions. As encouraged by Dunn and Bradstreet, these organizations need to be disciplined in continually monitoring crises and measuring the impact on customers and supply chains. The executives who involve their customers, employees, and external partners in reviewing data, brainstorming ideas, solving problems, and overcoming obstacles will find solutions.

About InnovationOne®, LLC.

InnovationOne®, LLC, helps organizations worldwide build a culture of innovation and make it sustainable. InnovationOne® uses a scientifically developed assessment to measure, benchmark, and improve your company’s culture and capability to innovate and enjoy better outcomes and financial results. Companies scoring in the top quartile of our InnovationOne Culture Index© reported higher financial performance than bottom quartile performers by as much as 22 percent.