The Role of Organizational Development in Supply Chain, with Jennifer Longnion

By Published On: August 2, 2023

Hosts: Rodney Apple, Chris Gaffney

In This Episode:

In this 2nd episode of our podcast series on Supply Chain Talent Building and Engagement, we speak with Jennifer Longnion, a highly experienced executive and organizational development professional, who is currently Founder and “Chief Organization Officer” of See and Free Consulting. Jenn begins by talking about her career journey with companies such as Best Buy, Motorola, Coca-Cola, and Dollar Shave Club. Working at these prominent brands helped her to learn how to best view and apply organizational development within supply chain. Also learn how to deal with transformation and change, plus how HR can build trust and be a valued partner to supply chain leaders. We even get lessons on how to approach workforce planning to hire and develop people, giving them both the tools to succeed and the freedom to grow, try, and fail now and then to advance careers and business success. The conversation closes with a focus on accountability and measures, plus the best advice Jenn has for supply chain professionals.

Who is Jennifer Longnion?

An unorthodox executive, Jenn leverages her 28 years of expertise to help build and scale organizational capabilities so organizations may accelerate their growth. Her clients have anointed her “The Org Whisperer” for her ability to walk into any org – at any stage – and quickly assess what’s happening, what’s needed, then figure out how to galvanize everyone to achieve their goals. In her own words, she sees and frees what’s possible – even when it is seemingly impossible. Jenn spent most of her career as an Organization Development leader in multiple organizations from academia to large corporations, including Best Buy, Motorola, and The Coca-Cola Company. In the last several years, she joined unicorn fast-growth companies, first Dollar Shave Club, Inc as COO and as Chief Impact Officer at Silicon-Valley based Flexport, Inc.

[00:02:12] Rodney Apple: Jen, welcome to the Supply Chain Careers podcast, and our second episode of our new series that we’ve titled Supply Chain Talent Building and Engagement. And understanding you’re an organizational development executive. I would love to have an overview of your experiences supporting the supply chain functions and also what you would find unique about supply chain compared to the other corporate functions.

[00:02:38] Jennifer Longnion: Yes. Well, thanks Rodney, and thanks Chris for having me. Supply chain and tech are probably the two areas I’ve supported most in my OD work, and I love both of those areas because they truly touch every aspect of the business. And they’re both systemic in nature and that’s very much how OD is as well. So I’ll share a couple of my experiences with supply chain.

I got really excited when I thought about all of the cool opportunities I’ve had. My first real deep experience with supporting supply chain at Best Buy. We were building Best and I was the lead OD practitioner with. The exec team for about two years, and we were determining how to move what we called hard goods and soft goods to consumers’ homes, and shifting away from a brick and mortar model.

You know, best Buy was known as having our inventory on the floor, on the premise, and on the shelf, and we had to figure out how to get it to the door of people’s homes. So that was my first real foray into supply chain. We also implemented a lot more sophisticated software over time to support distribution and logistic.

When I was there, and it was a great time to be there too. Best Buy was in its prime. Motorola, a different story. I went to Motorola after that and we were trying to revitalize a company that had lost its way a little bit, and we had over 18,000 people in our supply chain there globally, but we were running eight different supply chains.

People didn’t always realize that Motorola had semiconductors, mobile phones, CB radios, tv, satellite systems. My role was to figure out how to align the supply chain operations and that environment into major geographic hubs and how to hold multiple lines, manufacture multiple categories out of one area, and reduce the cost inevitably.

So that was the big part of my job at Motorola, and then I went to this small, tiny. Not very iconic brand called Coca-Cola, where uh, we were redesigning corporate processes across all of the 17 corporate functions, trying to make everything more efficient and trying to pull out about a half a billion dollar in cost.

And the supply chain really needed a lot of our focus. We were a franchise. This. A lot of people didn’t realize Coke was 850,000 people across 200 plus countries, many of whom didn’t work for the Coca-Cola company. And so it was a matter of trying to figure out where could we get synergies with our bottlers, our bottling operations.

And I had to understand the supply chain at a really granular level there, because I went around the world, uh, for a year and a half with one of our supply chain leaders. And studied our supply chain. Everything from how we sourced, how we manufactured, how we distributed product, everything, and come back with a recommendation on the capabilities we needed to build.

So that was a real privilege and a real opportunity for me to learn the business. You talk about a real root cause issue with supply chain breakdown. I had to really have an appreciation for that and I led change management for Koch as well globally, and so got to work on. Multiple efforts in the supply chain, including the refranchising of our North America business.

And then I went to a scrappy startup here in Venice, California and Dollar Shape Club. And Dollar Shape Club was early in its development. We had to build our supply chain. When I came in, we had a three pl. That was it. And so it was a matter of moving away from that model, establishing our own warehouses.

At the time, and then we established our own razor factory in Israel. So how to build that team, how to build out that organization. Flexport. My last gig before this, a recent one, I was, it was a freight forwarder. I had to learn freight forwarding and global logistics. I a totally different aspect of the supply chain that I was used to being in C P G and retail.

And so yeah, it’s been really cool to have supply chain as like a fundamental aspect of my career and it’s helped me learn business. That’s what makes supply chain unique to me is that because it touches every part of the business, I’ve had an opportunity to learn the business through working with supply chain.

[00:06:32] Chris Gaffney: So Jen, that’s a number of different perspectives over time and you refer to different elements, I think, of organizational development. What’s your textbook definition for OD and how has your thinking about how OD applied? Works or looks like as you’ve been in the world of commerce over the last decades?

[00:06:53] Jennifer Longnion: OD is hard to explain to people. Honestly, Chris, it can be kind of nebulous and hard to describe. The way I would describe it is it’s an objective lens or kind of an investigative methodology on an organization’s capabilities from process and structure, people and technology. It’s taking a lens on what’s.

Working about those things and what’s not working towards that company’s vision or strategy. And then designing solutions that make the organization healthy, profitable, and more efficient and effective. Right? So I go in and I diagnose what’s going on? Why are things slowing down? Why are they not working?

Why are teams not getting along? It could be any number of things I walk into and then figure out. What’s the best path forward to make that organization more effective? And you asked about kinda the early days of working with supply chain leadership teams and now today helping an organization be restructured.

I would look at who’s in charge, how many spans and layers do we have? What’s the decision making efficiency at the top? What are those leadership dynamics? Do I just have leaders that aren’t talking to each other or not getting along? And my role in that, The context was to implement a new design, a new way of working, a new structure for that organization, movement of boxes on a page.

Over time, I built more credibility in supply chain. I started to learn the different elements of supply chain, how supply chains work. I needed to understand it at a truly kind of expertise level, all the different. Skills and abilities within supply chain. So I developed not only more credibility, but more expectation from supply chain leaders to dive deeper into supply chain processes.

So it wasn’t just a structure at the highest level, it was at a line level. I had to look at lines and go, okay, what’s happening here? You know, are the products flying off the line? Are we having quality issues, slowdowns breakdowns, what’s happening? And while I’m not a supply chain expert, I did need to be an expert at noticing inefficiency and in effect, Across different supply chain processes, and that’s how it changed for me.

I, I got to be much more involved in supply chain that way. What I’ve noticed about supply chain leadership over time is they’ve started to care more about things like Lean Six Sigma, how to be more sophisticated and in factory and warehouse technologies. Even managing just supply chain end to end.

’cause many of them grew up in verticals where they, I’m a manufacturing expert or I’m a logistics expert, and they found themselves having to broaden their horizons. And so a lot of my work in that case was helping to figure out how to develop themselves as supply chain experts end to end. So yeah, it’s end-to-end.

So yeah, it’s evolved over time. It’s been really cool to see how the field has evolved as much as the organizations that they operate in.

[00:09:37] Rodney Apple: Well from the supply chain recruiter’s chair, I can certainly sympathize and appreciate what you commented there on having to really get into the supply chain and learn it from all aspects.

End to end 20 plus years. I’m still learning new stuff all the time.

[00:09:50] Jennifer Longnion: Yep, same.

[00:09:52] Rodney Apple: I was really intrigued as I looked at your LinkedIn profile with some of the titles you’ve held that are. Atypical from the traditional C-Suite, so chief organizational officer, which traditionally goes to the Chief operations officer, and then chief Impact Officer.

Would love to know some background on what went into the design and the development of those particular roles. And what were some of the goals that objectives that you were tasked with in those roles.

[00:10:17] Jennifer Longnion: On the Chief Organization officer and and Chief Impact Officer. It was largely my own creativity that led to those titles because in both of those roles, I also ran hr.

So had the opportunity to kinda shape it. But to be honest with you, on the Chief Organization officer at Dollar Shave Club, I was the C O O. In that capacity I was. The partner to the c e o who had a wide view of the organization and accountability for how their organization operated. However, I’m not a deep expert in supply chain.

We had a head of supply chain, a chief supply chain officer. He was amazing at running supply chain. What we really needed in the c o O at the time and COOs. I actually do a lot of coaching with COOs Coaching around what is, what are your operations, what is your skills that you uniquely bring to the table?

’cause it’s defined differently depending on the organization. In our case, we needed somebody just to organize us, and what I mean by that is, Help us get our product lifecycle to move throughout the organization. We made goods and then we sold them online in e-commerce, and then we eventually sold them in retail.

And so our c E O at the time needed somebody that could help him pay attention to what’s going on in the organization, make sure that our strategy, our strategic roadmap could be implemented, that could organize people, functions, communications, all of the things that can come with just getting us organized.

I worked with a lot of entrepreneurial. Folks, a lot of creative folks, and they sometimes struggled with putting in structure around how to get things moving across the organization. And so that was my job. And so we called a chief organization officer very much on purpose so that it wouldn’t be confused with our supply chain operations, but also to speak to what I was bringing to the table.

Chief Impact Officer, a little bit different. And in that capacity I ran marketing, sustainability, and hr. And so what we decided there is the real crux of that role was having an impact on the culture, the brand, and the community, and the way we served our community from an environmental perspective, sustainability and humanitarian perspective.

And so impact. Felt like the right umbrella across each of those areas, because that’s really what my job was, to figure out how to make those organizations come together to make that kind of impact. And so really that’s what it was about. I would love to see more of those types of roles out there, but it was mostly my expertise and what I brought to the table, and then what my role inevitably would be in making an impact on the org.

[00:12:45] Chris Gaffney: Jen, when you and I met, we were working on a transformation and I recall we became an event-driven transformation kind of organization. You’ve seen transformation in different cultures in different kind of industries, and so really I’ll ask you to comment on how does it look different. You mentioned the importance of change management.

And for an organization who gets it right, does it have to be an ongoing event or should it be something that, no, we get this right and we manage over time and we don’t have to do these big sea changes that have huge impacts on people. And so what are your thoughts on those things?

[00:13:22] Jennifer Longnion: I have a very strong perspective on that latter part of the question, so don’t let me walk away from it.

But I think on the. Former part of it, I did become an adept transformational leader in big corporations for probably, I guess 18 years. And like you said, Chris, that’s how we met. So Best Buy Motorola Coke and kinda led all kinds of complex organizational changes, acquisitions, productivity initiatives, sometimes going into new businesses.

But for the most part, if I had to sum up that part of my career, I was a fixit expert. Most of the context in which I worked from driving change in the big corporations was. Tasked with fixing something that was broken, that had once worked for us and no longer worked for us. Attempting something kind of unknown.

The company had gotten used to a way of doing something and here comes this new found way of doing thing, new trend, new innovation, and something that the organization was like. We don’t wanna mess things up, right? We have good reputation, we have a solid performance. Let’s not screw this up. So how can you drive change over here sometimes in isolation of the rest of the organization and tackle something that is seemingly impossible?

And then in other cases, in big corporations, it was all about reducing. The company breaking it down a little bit because the company had over-invested in areas that were either no longer working for them or never worked for them in the first place. And so it was a lot of attempts at driving change, not always being able to drive change at the truly transformational level.

We called it that. I don’t know that we ever really achieved that. In all cases, I called it my, most of my resume in that era was I attempted to dot, dot, dot. When I went from big corporations to being a an executive at a fast growth startup, I became a build it scale it expert. So it was different, right?

So it was all about changing, but it was the challenge of trying to figure out what are those critical inflection points of growth that entrepreneurial ventures go through? What are the forks in the road where you have a decision to make? Do we hire. Fast or do we slow? Slow and deliberate. There’s all these kind of decisions you have to make so that you don’t become a fixit company so that you don’t have to do a lot of repairs on the backend of your growth trajectory.

And that was really interesting for me as somebody who had spent so much of my career, I. Kind of unraveling things that had already been built to figure out can we build this the right way so it’s more resilient. And then how do you put in an infrastructure that’s not too much, that won’t break the place and break the spirit of the place, right?

Too much bureaucracy, too much anything. And I had to figure that fine line out over time. Now I run my own firm and I teach leadership and at the graduate level, And I’m still doing more of that, kind of broadly, helping leaders determine what they need, seeing around corners, applying, tried and tested solutions where there’s no infrastructure and or experience doing it.

So that’s been the really interesting part. You asked about, should we do it all the time? Should we make this part and parcel of how we work, or should it be these big events should be how you work. And the reality is, Change isn’t going anywhere. There are big changes. We’ve lived through one most recently with the pandemic, and it created change across every aspect of every business and people’s lives, and so you can’t always anticipate those things, but you can create the right kinds of rhythms in your business to be much more adept and adaptable to change as it happens.

One of the best examples I’ll give you is Best Buy. Again, I was there at Best Buy when we were like a top performing stock, so lots of investment in this space. But what was cool about Best Buy is that we had a very clear business rhythm, a very clear part of the year where we did strategy budgeting staff.

We did all of our recruiting plans. We knew who we were gonna hire for what we were gonna do. When you have that kind of predictability to your operating rhythms and your business rhythms, you know when changes are gonna happen. You know when you’re gonna do a restructure, you can plan for it. And also you have performance rhythms where you’re looking at your business and you’re going, Hey, we’re doing well.

We’re staying flat or we’ve taken a turn for the worst. In any of those cases, when you’re looking at your business performance on a regular basis, you may have to pivot, but those are rhythms that you can build into your business. You don’t have to wait for things to go terribly wrong or for opportunity to be staring you in the face before you get ready for a change.

And I wish more businesses would do that because I think we get lazy. And we get overwhelmed with our priorities and we struggle. And so we wait for the events. And the events create a lot of productivity dips in your organization that take years to recover from. And I know all too well, like I’ll walk into businesses that’ll still be talking about some restructure they did five years prior because it had that much of an impact on people’s.

Loyalty to the business, their morale, their productivity, their sense of self. It’s amazing to me how businesses let that happen because they don’t build it into the fabric of how they operate.

[00:18:19] Chris Gaffney: Yeah, I’ll comment on that one because as I work with people, you can always get into what the intended outcomes were.

People never give an honest assessment of the unintended outcomes, and I think across these spectrums and this overlap of people’s strategy and the supply chain strategy, it’s do you spend enough time? Planning and looking forward in your business. You get so consumed with supporting today’s delivery to customers and consumers that we, even in what we think are mature businesses, they’re not thinking about that down the road.

And you’re right, they run themselves into a corner, into a trap. So if we can. Help people be more thoughtful around that the business is better off. And of course people are better off in those businesses at that point.

[00:19:03] Jennifer Longnion: Absolutely right, Chris. Yes. And I think we’ve seen so much of that the last few years, just not thinking through our scenarios.

I can’t plan for every one of them, but you can certainly know that they can create certain outcomes. Right. And plan for those outcomes and what you would do differently.

[00:19:19] Rodney Apple: So Jen, when it comes to establishing trust and credibility as a HR talent management, organizational development expert, you’ve got so many functions, so many people to work with.

How do you go about establishing that initial trust and credibility coming into a large matrix dynamic global organization?

[00:19:39] Jennifer Longnion: I would say the first thing, and I say this to a lot of leaders in all different functions, again, not just hr, but you are a leader in that room. You’re not just the subject matter expert in that room, right?

And I think that’s number one. You have to believe that you’re a leader in that room, and that means you have an accountability and responsibility for that business as a whole. And I think a lot of times, Hr, especially what I call backend or support functions, come into the room with a mindset of, I’m the blank expert here when they only speak to their expertise, or they only speak to questions and specific to their area, and that’s the first step is recognizing your leader.

And you have a seat at a table where decisions are being made and changes are happening, and you need to be able to speak credibly to those. You need to understand what’s going on in the business, and you need to be able to kind of branch out or have breadth into how you look at the business, and you need to be at the forefront of any decisions.

To make changes to that business, not on the backend. I call it shoveling up after the elephants in the parade at that point. Right. You need to get out front. And so I speak to a lot of HR leaders about how to understand organizational capability broadly. That means you’re thinking beyond talent, thinking beyond people thinking beyond human resources.

It’s thinking about the fact that when you make a. Change to a person or a team, it doesn’t just impact the talent on that team, it impacts the way they work. So it impacts processes, right? There’s an interdependency there. When you make changes to KPIs, it changes your incentive structure when you integrate a new company, it’s about how those companies are wired together, not just the acquisition of new people reporting to existing people.

And a lot of times when you have an HR lens, you’re only looking at the talent aspects of those. Changes those organizational needs, and I think HR has got to lift up. We’ve gotta say, how do these changes affect all aspects of this business? And then what’s our role in helping to make sure that’s a successful transition or change or transformation?

So hr, our leaders need to be change expert. And there’s the psychology of humans going through change, which I think HR tends to focus on. But there’s the psychology of organizations. Experiencing change as well. And you need to understand both. You have to hold both of those up and be looking at them at equal measure, and that’s how you’d gain the credibility.

The influence make. The impact that you wanna make in the HR space is you have to see beyond the borders of your work and your domain, and you need to understand the organization as a whole. That would be my very strong perspective on it.

[00:22:25] Mike Ogle: During this short break, we recognize that this podcast is made possible by S C M Talent Group, the industry leading supply chain executive search firm.

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[00:23:03] Chris Gaffney: So Jen, the flip side of that is the enlightened supply chain leader, and as I say, I was fortunate younger in my career where I had wise folks like you to help me along the way. But what is your coaching for those supply chain leaders to make the most of the H R P P? The resources they have to help them both run and change their business.

[00:23:25] Jennifer Longnion: Yeah. First off, and this may feel very pointed, but you have to recognize that people are not just cogs. They’re not simply a line item. In your p and l where supply chains exist, you’ll usually find the most people in the organization, the most complexity of management across multiple roles, facilities, geographic boundaries, supply chain leaders need to appreciate that these are human beings.

And yes, you want to make those human beings work as efficiently and effectively as possible, but they are human beings. And so I think that’s first off is just I want my supply chain leaders to really, truly appreciate that, mean it and get that their people are essential to their operations. There’s not a single aspect of supply chain that is not either human created.

Are human solved. And so that would be the first thing. I think supply chain leaders also need to engage their HR partners early and often. These are the stewards and advocates of your people. Members of your top team don’t have meetings without your HR leaders in the room. They are they, because they need to understand every decision you’re about to make.

Contemplating problems you have to solve. Challenges you need to surmount. They are part of the crew that will help you solve them, but it’s really tough to do that if you’re five clicks down the road on a major decision that you’re making, that it will impact your people. It’s hard to swoop in at that point and say.

Oh, okay. Well, perhaps people won’t like that decision. Perhaps they will resist it. Perhaps they will want to quit. Don’t put your HR leaders in the position of doing that. Bring them in early. And if you aren’t quite clear on all the different ways that your people matter to your supply chain, Work with them to better understand that.

That’s absolutely critical. It seems easy, but I don’t always see it present in some of the supply chain teams I’ve worked with. And so the ones that are great, the supply chain leaders that are great, get it.

[00:25:26] Rodney Apple: Amen. On the topic of hiring supply chain talent, which is what I live, eat, and sleep these days and have for the last couple of decades, would love to hear your perspective as an organizational development expert, what practices have you seen work best?

[00:25:40] Jennifer Longnion: So, I’m a big fan and anybody that’s ever had to go through an interview process to work with me knows this of what I call the multimodal approach to hiring talent, behavioral based interviews. They show you how a person communicates, how they can articulate themselves, how they listen.

And, but it’s not enough. Some people are really good at those and not very good on the job, right? So I like to provide lots of opportunities for a candidate or a talent to show me what they’re made of. Everything from how they interact with a group or a team. It’s great for the candidates as well to meet the people they’ll be working with.

So it can be something as simple as inviting them to a team happy hour as part of the interview process, right? Just to see how they adapt to the culture, the team, how the dynamics work. There’s obviously things you’d wanna leave out of the happy hour if you don’t want that to become problematic, but that’s a big one.

I’m also a big fan of case studies, experiential kind of assessments, where the candidate shows how they operate, how they tackle a challenge or a real time situation. I’ll use one that’s outside of supply chain. If it’s a marketer, for instance, I’ll take them into a retail environment. I’ll take ’em to the local pharmacy and say, how would you position and promote this product to make sell faster and better?

If it’s a backend engineer, take this code. Tell me how you would break it down. You kinda see what people are made of in supply chain. I would take them on the lines. I would take them into the warehouses. I would have them walk me through a specific challenge that you’re having and how they would solve it.

That’s what I think gives you the best view of how a person will operate and do well in your organization or not, and you can’t get it from just one aspect of that process. You need to look at it from multi-dimensions.

[00:27:22] Chris Gaffney: I’ll dig in a little bit deeper. So now you’ve got that talent on board. Okay. So when you’ve gone through that rigorous process to get the right people on board, what are your thoughts today on how you manage the ongoing development of those folks so that they are successful in current role and can.

Be positioned, be ready for something bigger and better.

[00:27:41] Jennifer Longnion: Yeah, absolutely. And you’re probably seeing this theme for me, but I think the first part of it is just knowing where your organization’s going. What are the skills, knowledge, capabilities that you’re gonna need in the future? As far out as you can think, and I’m coming from startup environments that struggle to plan three months ahead, and I’ve worked in organizations that are planning 30 years ahead.

Right. So, however far out you can imagine your organization going, evolving, shifting over time, you need to understand that because you’re gonna constantly be balancing between upskilling and developing your team to meet current needs and then developing them for future needs. And you don’t wanna get to the point where that’s all caught up with you, right?

Like we’ve all of a sudden become irrelevant. Our skills, our abilities, our team dynamics, the way we work just won’t work for us anymore. So I think that’s the first thing, is just what are you gonna need? A little bit further out than from where you are because that’s how you wanna think of development.

What are you developing towards? I think the other thing is find as many ways as possible for your teams to develop on the job. I. There’s tons of research models that will tell you that that’s how people learn best. That’s how they develop is given opportunities to experience something. You need to provide risk-free environments for them to try and fail.

Quite frankly, a lot of organizations don’t do that very well and they don’t celebrate that either, and they’re like, Nope, perfect. Every time. Well, that makes it hard for people to learn and develop, and I mean that at all levels. Individual team, organization, right. Leaders. You gotta be vulnerable and acknowledge failures and make that comfortable for people because you again, want them to learn quickly and you want them to learn from trying things on the job.

That’s how they’re gonna learn. But you’ve gotta make that, again, safe to do. And sometimes you can do that by literally taking them out, creating environments where they can learn and fail. I call it a day in the life of here’s the new environment I need you to be able to operate in. I’m gonna put you in this simulation.

Pilots do that. For instance, surgical simulations, whatever the case may be. We do it in lots of different fields, but organizations don’t necessarily think about that for all fields, for all disciplines. How can you create these moments where teams can try things out, where individuals can learn new skills, but in a risk-free environment that forces them to adapt on real time?

I’ve done things like build games. People always tell me, well, people aren’t gonna play a game. I’m like, 97% of people played this game. Yes, they will. And so there are definitely ways to create that, and I think that’s what I would encourage organizations to do more of and find ways for them to do that and ask people for help in doing it as well.

I think that’s a big piece of it. I will say, if I had to plant an idea in everybody’s head, if you’re gonna focus on any behaviors in your business from when it comes to development, the two I would highly recommend, and this is because I teach leadership, but I deal with a lot of. Leaders as well.

Empathy and accountability. Those would be my votes if you could only focus on two from establishing behaviors, rigor practices, and rewards and recognition of the two behaviors. And in any organization that I think really fuels that organization’s success. Those would be the two I would choose. And then you can add any others you want to it.

But those would be my favorites on the development front because I see a lot of teams, organizations, and individuals break down on those two areas, and that’s where I see the most problems in in organizations.

[00:31:03] Chris Gaffney: I’ll comment on that too. It’s interesting, I was thinking about accountability on my run this morning.

Yeah. For some bizarre reason. But I do think when you get to empathy and accountability, those are things that people are gonna do when you’re not there. My big deal about change management and it gets to self-interest and what are they gonna do when they’re left to their own devices. And so if you instill those things, people are inherently gonna wake up and be thinking about the other.

And they’re gonna be thinking about what is my role and how we win and succeed today.

[00:31:31] Rodney Apple: So Jen, segueing into further discussion on accountability. What are some of the best practices that you’ve seen as it relates to tracking measuring performance, whether it be on the executive leadership team or individual contributors?

And I would add you’ve got this big transformation, you’ve executed it. How do you go back in and track and measure the results or the people and talent side of the fence?

[00:31:55] Jennifer Longnion: 100%. It’s more simple than people make it. It’s hard, by the way, it is hard to implement any measures and accountability to performance.

I get that, and I don’t wanna make light of that, but I do think figuring out what those could be is a bit simpler than we make it. Whatever your business KPIs are, you want to tie your supply chain team performance and your indoor transformational performance to those same things. It usually evolves around.

Cost, quality and time is the three you wanna say, are we becoming more cost effective? Are we faster? Are we delivering better quality than we were? And so it’s usually one of those three, any sort of team performance that you would drive, or even transformation you would drive. And so, What are those things?

Uh, are people able to do those things more effectively, more efficiently, better than they were before as a result of X change or X intervention to the team or to the business? I. That said, so what do you look for though when you aren’t getting those things? That’s probably more the area where I swoop in and help.

It usually comes down again, root cause to any of those things not happening, or one of these three things. I’m big in threes, by the way. It’s my favorite number, but it’s capability. Do people have the ability, the knowledge, the skills, et cetera, or the infrastructure to do what you need them to do? Yes or no?

Do they have the capacity? Do they have enough of the resources of the things to do what you need them to do? And then lastly, in the hardest one to tackle is willingness. Do they want? Do they believe in? Will they do it if all those other things are corrected for, will they actually make the change? And if not, why not?

Usually there is some sort of fear involved with doing it, with improving or changing the way they’re operating, and I typically am looking for one of those three things or all of those three things at all times. When I. Organizations not able to achieve what they set out to achieve. It seems simple, it’s very difficult to do, but I think sometimes we make it overly complex in how we look at it and we don’t need to, ’cause a lot of things will drive towards one of those three measures and one of those three root causes.

[00:34:15] Chris Gaffney: So Jen, I, I like a lot of. Folks in your network have followed you as you’ve done some really cool things over the last few chapters since we worked together, and obviously you’ve got a next one. And you mentioned your new venture with CN Free Consulting. Can you tell us a little bit more about what your core offering is delivering value for your clients.

[00:34:37] Jennifer Longnion: Yeah. C and free is an opportunity for me personally, to rediscover joy in my work. Selfishly, I needed to see and free myself a little bit after a long grind, and inside a lot of organizations, wonderful experiences, but I was fatigued and needed to go out and read a.

Discover the things I enjoy, and so seeing free has given me that opportunity. I get to meet new people, work in different types of businesses, so it’s been fantastic. What do we do? A little bit of everything, as you may imagine. All the things we’ve talked about. So I, I walk into businesses, some of them know exactly what’s going on, where potentially they’re about to tempt something new.

A lot of startups I work with, for instance, different. Stages where they’re at that next stage, they’ve got all this funding, they want to go out and go into a new category, new market. Perhaps they need to add a new aspect of their leadership team that they don’t have today. They need help figuring out what is it that we’re going to need to achieve our aspiration.

So a lot of times I’m working with them on their strategic plan, helping them figure out the org capabilities they’re gonna need, and then helping them. Build those in a way that they can sustain those practices. ’cause it’s tough, right? When you’re building a company from scratch. In other cases, I’m service a fractional executive, usually in the space of the C O O or the chief people officer helping a lot with talent practices where they don’t exist.

So I do a lot of that and then I do executive coaching. So sometimes people just want. A confidant. They want sometimes the wizard behind the curtain. Can you help me think this through real-time business challenges And the way I coach is exactly that. So if you wanna work on public speaking, we get you ready for your next board meeting.

We don’t just talk about public speaking as a skillset or getting over your fears. We do all of those. Things, but then I help you get ready, you put it into practice, we review how you felt about it, how you did, and then we get ready for the next one, right? So I work with a lot of mostly executives and different types of companies and organizations to help them be more effective leaders of those organizations.

And so all of those things get to use my OD background. But I also, I think the cool thing for me, Chris, is that I’ve sat in those seats. I’ve sat at those tables myself. I know those uncomfortable moments. As a leader, I know when you get in your own way, I know when you’re tackling problems that are gonna impact lots of people’s lives and livelihoods and how that, that weight that you feel.

And so I think it makes me kind of effective and working with my clients on any number of areas where they’re. Worried if they’re concerned and they want to be able to be more effective and more resilient as their organization grows. So those are the kinds of things I do today. How you can find me c in free

Super easy. You can find me on LinkedIn as well. The good news is my last name was misspelled by an illiterate ancestor, so there are very few of us with my spelling. You can find me pretty easily. I tell people, reach out even if you don’t know what you need. That’s okay. That’s a large part of what I do is help you figure out what you need, and even if that’s all you want somebody to do.

That’s okay. ’cause I, I enjoy that part of it. It’s kind of the investigative part.

[00:37:51] Rodney Apple: Jen, we again appreciate your time. As we close out, we would love to understand what’s some of the best advice you’ve received that made a positive impact on your career, and is there any other advice you’d like to share with our audience?

[00:38:03] Jennifer Longnion: I think the absolute best advice and kind of core to who I am and how I’ve grown my career is to be clear on your why. What’s the impact you wanna make? What’s your purpose? What makes that path worth pursuing? And most importantly, what’s the life that you want, the lifestyle that you want? I have so many students come to me.

Saying, what path should I take? I said, well, where do you wanna be at the end of that path. Think about that. You don’t have to have your a hundred year plan, your 10 year plan, but you do need to understand what matters to you. You’re in your life. Do you see yourself potentially having a family? Do you wanna travel the world?

Sometimes it’s about the impact that you wanna make on the world. My why is super clear. I’ve always believed that an organization’s competitive advantage is their people, period. You can replicate everything else. I’ve seen it happen. You can replicate the processes, the products, the services, the fonts on your website.

I’ve seen that one. You can’t replicate the unique combination of those people coming together and doing something. Amazing. And so for me it’s all about seeing and freeing the best in people in organizations and so on. My worst days of my career where I was like, why am I doing this? I wanna hang it up.

Now that fueled me. ’cause I reminded myself that that’s what I was about. That was my why, that was my purpose. And so I, I’d say hands down, it’s not only what the advice that was given to me, but the advice that I give others, because it will guide you at every. Pivotal moment in your career and you’ll have many of them, and you’ll have many paths to choose.

There’s no one path. There’s many paths, many forks in the road you’ll walk up against and have an opportunity to make a decision. And so I tell people, just remember the why, ’cause it will help you make those decisions. I think that’s it for me, and that’s what I tell a lot of my coachees and a lot of my students and help them figure out their why.

[00:39:55] Chris Gaffney: That’s perfect. So this has been a great second episode of our new series on supply chain talent building and Engagement, and we really, really enjoyed the time with you today.

[00:40:04] Jennifer Longnion: Same. Congrats on the podcast and the new series. And yes, thank you for having me.

[00:40:14] Mike Ogle: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Supply Chain Careers podcast. Be sure to listen to other episodes and sign up to be notified when future episodes are released as we continue to interview industry leading supply chain experts. This podcast is made possible by S C M Talent Group, the industry leading supply chain executive search firm.

Visit SCM talent [email protected] to search for or to post supply chain jobs. Visit the supply chain job [email protected]. Are you tired of struggling to optimize your supply chain? Look no further than Profit Point the experts in supply chain, network design and technology integration solutions.

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