As the industry reemerges from the lull of summertime, for the first time we are entering an entirely different world. At the start of 2020, COVID-19 caught the world off guard. Now we are returning to our desks, whether they are in the office or our kitchen table, knowing full well that we are entering a different reality. We now understand that this reality is here to stay, and so purchasing managers must consider what it means to face persistent uncertainty in demand and supply while still maintaining stable supply chains across the range of raw materials they procure. As we settle back in for the final quarter of this year, and see 2021 on the horizon, I urge you to consider the kind of organizational spirit you need to flourish in this new world.
A few months ago we wrote about the need to embody the mystical camel-tiger hybrid, a spirit animal which perfectly represents the successful corporate mindset needed for a post-COVID world. The camel brings to mind a creature that patiently crosses the desert from one oasis to another, equipped with adaptations to cope with the harsh environment. Similarly, a ‘camel’ firm is one that can adopt an organized and patient approach to business, and is usually well resourced internally in order to do so. But the camel falters when faced with unprecedented challenges because even with its vast internal resources and laser focus, it is simply not agile enough for these new scenarios.
‘Tiger’ firms, on the contrary, inhabit volatile market spaces where conditions change rapidly. These firms are able to adapt to a number of difficult environments where competition is less predictable and agility is a critical attribute. Tiger firms pounce quickly and take risks. In an industry where supply stability is critical to getting things done, the tiger model proves too expensive and puts the organization and it’s customers at risk.
The camel-tiger hybrid understands that in the year 2020 (and beyond) there are hidden sand traps waiting for us between those oases. And so it invests in the internal resources needed for quick decision making in a volatile environment. The camel-tiger relies on data that is hyper-local and real time, allowing it to see what is approaching just around the corner, react quickly, and then continue on to its next green oasis. With the right data in hand, camel-tiger purchasing managers are a powerful force. They are as strong as they are agile, especially when they inhabit camel-tiger organizations with the internal flexibility to change course as new data emerges.
Founder and CEO of Glowlit.com