“Domesticated” recruits alone won’t tame your S&OP tiger

(No cats were harmed in the writing of this blog post)

The evolutionary process of domesticating wild cats from being fierce predators to the darlings of the internet took many thousands of years. Subsequent generations of cats lived alongside people and slowly adapted their behaviours, physical attributes and ‘language’ to thrive as human companions. A domestic cat suddenly turned out into the wild, would survive but minutes in the ruthless chaos of its ancestral jungle. You’re thinking, what on earth does this have to do with supply chain?


Lately people in companies with untamed S&OP processes have been telling me anecdotes that share a similar, recurring theme. Each had recruited ‘domesticated’ demand planners – those whose practices were honed at companies celebrated for S&OP excellence – in hopes that the new recruits’ good practices would ‘rub off’ on their colleagues.

It seems logical on the surface but I’m afraid this is like expecting Felix the housecat to domesticate Simba the lion in a matter of weeks. More likely, Simba would devour poor Felix as a light snack!


And this is more or less what’s happening with those domesticated demand planners. High expectation falls on their shoulders to be an impetus for positive change to world-class S&OP, but they end up getting devoured by colleagues who have no desire, directive or formal reward system to change. This is an unfair situation for both the new recruits and the existing staff – each group of whom are, in different ways, set up to fail.

I often witness in these situations, people blaming the software for the fact that S&OP excellence isn’t happening as expected. This is a classic ‘red herring’. It’s much easier to make technology the scapegoat than to acknowledge and address the more complicated human factors.

There’s just no getting around the fact that S&OP, like all major cross-functional change initiatives, involves a top-down led orchestration of many different, joined-up moving parts. New recruits from world-class organisations can most definitely help tame your S&OP tiger, but only if they are seen to represent the actions and behavioural values being led from domesticated cats at the top.

Alain Vix, Account Director and Co-Founder, Hughenden Consulting