You know that it is back to school time when Beloit College, a small school in Wisconsin, takes center stage with their annual report: The Mindset List. According to their website, “The Mindset List was created at Beloit College in 1998 to reflect the world view of entering first year students. It started with the members of the class of 2002, born in 1980. What started as a witty way of saying to faculty colleagues ‘watch your references,’ has turned into a globally reported and utilized guide to the intelligent, if unprepared, adolescent consciousness.”
This year’s list got me thinking about the mindset of the current crop of supply chain management graduates that has just entered the workforce. With the challenges that many companies have with recruiting, onboarding, and retaining young supply chain talent, I thought that it would be fun to highlight some industry references that won’t mean much to your newest team members.
With full deference (and apologies) to Tom McBride and Ron Nief, the authors of The Mindset List, here is my SCMindset List for 2011. It applies to those of you managing interns or recent graduates in the 21-to-23-year-old range. When talking to these new associates, keep their age and world perspectives in mind:
- Most of them were born between 1988 and 1990 (which makes me feel very old).
- “Supply chain management” is not something “new” to them. They have grown up with the concepts of SCM and supply chains.
- For most of their lives, manufacturers, retailers, and wholesalers have been trying to achieve efficient consumer response.
- ERP has always been part of the business lexicon. (Gartner coined the term in 1990.)
- The European Union was formed before they started elementary school.
- The US transportation industry has always been “deregulated.”
- The first post-Panamax container ship was also “born” in the late 1980s.
- GPS satellite navigation systems have always been available.*
- FedEx has always been a full-service, all-cargo global airline. (The company acquired Flying Tiger International in 1989.)
- Walmart has always been a larger retailer than Sears.*
- Oil embargos and fuel shortages exist only in history books.
- They have always had access to e-mail and the World Wide Web.*
- Transportation companies like Pan American Airways and American Freight System are bankrupt relics of the past.
- The railroads and trucking industry have been in a lifelong battle over longer combination vehicles and truck weight limits.
- Bar codes have always been on everything.*
- SAP has always been a publicly traded company and a software industry giant.
- PCs, Macs, and notebook computers have always existed.*
- When they were infants, the Exxon Valdez spilled millions of gallons of crude oil along the Alaskan coastline, which led to a US ban of single hull tanker construction.
- Lean production and Six Sigma have always been driving business processes.
- The Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, and Toronto Maple Leafs still haven’t won championships according to Listology.com.
*From the Beloit College Mindset List
Those are just a few of my ideas. What do you remember being new and exciting in the world of SCM between 1988 and 1990? Feel free to provide a comment.
On a related note, I have been involved in some fascinating research that focuses on supply chain career satisfaction. Our research team surveyed 232 current supply chain professionals about the factors that keep them professionally engaged in their SCM careers. We found six factors that drive satisfaction with supply chain careers. They are outlined in the table.
We also found that a lack of these satisfaction factors can be detrimental to career longevity, as they create dissatisfaction. For example, the respondents indicated that limited role variety can lead to boredom and undesirable job uniformity. Also, a lack of opportunity is perceived when the respondents experience career path ambiguity or restricted mobility. While a lack of a challenge can be problematic, too much challenge can lead to overload and stressful working conditions. These career dissatisfiers can lead to high turnover, excessive human resources costs, and a loss of expertise.
So what can you do to promote career satisfaction and retention of young SCM professionals? First, work to understand their perspectives, capabilities, and world views. They may have limited professional experience, but they have worked with technology all their lives. Second, create a positive working environment that provides realistic levels of challenge and variety, opportunities for advancement, and competitive compensation. Finally, don’t forget to recognize their work and how these individuals contribute to organizational success. After all, we all like to know that we are appreciated and our efforts have a positive impact, don’t we?