I interviewed Julian Blumenthal who discussed Change Management in the Supply Chain.
It’s great to speak with you today, Julian, and I look forward to hearing your views on the topic of change management in the supply chain. Can you start by providing a brief background of yourself?
My name is Julian Blumenthal, and I’ve been very much involved in supply chain, logistics, and transportation my entire career. What attracted me to the career is, I like to organize things, I like to work with people. I worked for a long time for a salt company, Morton Salt. What’s unique about Morton Salt is that they have a wide variety of customers, because a wide variety of people and organizations buy salt. I dealt with the smallest retailers and the largest retailers; I dealt with large industries and small industries; I dealt with small governments and national governments. It was a very, very inclusive and very interesting aspect of my career. Much of my work there was on truck transportation, but I also was involved with air, rail, inland, water, international water shipments, and partial shipments. My success was really based on the fact that I love to problem-solve and I like to respond to resolve the logistics problems and I’m really good at emphasizing and understanding what the customer issues are.
What is change management?
Well, change management is the way you handle the major change in the organizations. I do want to emphasize the word major. Day-to-day changes really need to be part of the day-to-day processes, but along comes a way that virtually every organization over time will have major changes to the market, major changes to their environment. Change management is an organized way that you respond to those challenges and be able to successfully change the organization. If you are interested in having a little bit of fun, go to Google Images—or probably any other search engine’s images—and type in the words change management and you will see about a hundred to maybe two hundred different change-management diagrams.
Can you talk about how change management can be applied in the supply chain?
Yes. Change management is almost required to be in the supply chain because significant changes in supply chain are going to happen. New customers, expanding the organization, contracting the organization, the markets will be constantly changing; that’s why change management needs to be done. Change management usually has five major features: request for change; impact analysis; approvals and denials of changes; an implementing part; and a reviewing part.
Where have you seen some good results?
I’ve seen good results in a couple places. One of them is, the organization I used to work with, Morton Salt, put in a new order-entry system. This was about 15 years ago. The old order-entry system was out of date, it was inefficient, it was costly, and certainly did not provide the information that was needed. Management realized that if you make such a fundamental change to the organization, not only does it impact the information that top management receives, but customers are impacted, your plant’s production is impacted, and right down almost to the bottom level. They did not implement the change without spending the money to bring all levels of management to individual discussions to be able to resolve the process.
The net result was that when the change was put in, almost all levels of the organization had change-management champions. That resolved the problems and encouraged people to make the changes and do the changes enthusiastically. The organization was able to save significant money, was able to, in addition to that, have an improved process and improve information for management. All the goals of the organization were met. Another organization, which I was not a member of, which I would recommend, also, and is very good at change management is McCormick Spice. McCormick Spice has a whole procedure to put in whenever there are unexpected, significant changes in their management. You can find a lot anywhere in the literature if you look it up in any of the search engines. They have a set group of people that get together. They have a process very similar to the one I just mentioned, where they go through the process, figure out what needs to be done, and help the organization make changes when there are shocks to it, so to speak.
Thank you, Julian, for sharing these views on change management in the supply chain.
Okay, thank you. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.
About Julian Blumenthal
Director, USC Marshall Center for Global Supply Chain Management