Successful companies put people ahead of strategy, process, and systems.

While attending APICS 2015, I heard Jack Welch, former GE CEO and best-selling business author, speak about the value of people. My ears perked up as I have found that the best processes and systems will fail miserably without the “right” people processes. For example, what is your culture? How strong are your leaders? Do you have a deep talent pool? These are key questions to consider. A few of the main takeaways from the speech include:

  • Allow employees to fail – this is the crux of creating an innovative environment. If employees are concerned that they’ll be beat over the head if they make a mistake, how innovative can they be? My consulting mentor Alan Weiss did his doctoral on a related topic. In essence, although an unexpected result, he proved that it is not important to hire people with innovative tendencies; instead, what mattered is as it is to make sure the leaders create an innovative culture.
  • People first; strategy second – give me the best people any day (even with mediocre strategy, processes and systems) vs. the best strategy with mediocre people.
  • Purpose – do your employees know how valuable what they are doing is to the company? Do they understand how they fit? Make sure your employees are crystal clear about their purpose and all else will fall into place.
  • Don’t tolerate bureaucracy – bureaucracy hinders workers. Since people are at the heart of success, you must blow up bureaucracy.
  • Simplify – we tend to make simple things complex. Make it a priority to think about whether you are simplifying on a daily basis. There is no value to complexity.
  • Supply chain leaders are desperately needed – we are at the heart and soul of our companies. We need to stand tall, speak strongly and be proud. We are value-added. Let’s start acting like it.