Inside Logistics

Pass it on

It’s time to make good communication a core competency

August 24, 2010
by Tracy Clayson

Good communication is serious business for Peter Weiss, head of worldwide logistics and Customs for Chrysler.

Weiss was the keynote speaker at a recent meeting of the Detroit Transportation Club. He discussed several issues on Chrysler’s radar, including the advantages of having shifted from a push system to the new ‘order-to-delivery’ supply approach.

The meeting was attended by carriers and 3PLs whose livelihoods rest on automakers’ decisions. Naturally, the crowd knew it’s tough going for vehicle manufacturers these days. They must do more with less—and do it faster and more efficiently. All players know that keying into the intricacies of streamlining a complex job takes concentration and creativity on the part of supply chain professionals. Everyone there was eager to find out what to expect from one of the titans of the industry.

Weiss rounded out his report with Chrysler’s promising recent results and a dynamic presentation that cleverly marketed the company’s newest production process. He is a masterful speaker. He gave a clear outline of what Chrysler has done to bring itself back from near-disaster. The delivery was upbeat, comprehensive and engaging. He worked the crowd.

We can learn a lot about communication styles from Weiss. It takes skill to distill all the necessary information, convey changes to procedures and break down each item while ensuring all stakeholders understand the message. And Weiss is not a professional speaker, but rather a supply chain professional responsible for carrying out a huge vision with global reach.

Also impressive about Weiss’s message was what he said about the importance of sharing information. Folks who are responsible for making radical changes to avert corporate demise are also expected to communicate what they are doing to suppliers, customers and other business partners.

This is why it’s so important for supply chain managers to learn effective communication. Not traditionally considered a core competency of the profession, it is now a crucial component of day-to-day business.

Inside a company, nothing gets done well unless there is a strong, clear message of goals, tactics, processes and responsibilities coming from the top.

The same is true of relationships with external partners. As part of improving working relationships between manufacturers and supply chain service providers, a better dialogue is needed between all parties—suppliers, distributors, manufacturers, carriers and 3PLs—around visions, expectations and results. This can address most potential risks and help people identify important opportunities.