Another challenging year that tested our resilience is soon drawing to a close. As we look back on 2023, I'm sure many of us feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tragedies and challenges that have confronted us: war, terrorism, climate change, trade tensions, economic turmoil, ongoing labor shortages. In a world that’s increasingly interconnected and reliant on complex global networks, I have no doubt that 2023 will be remembered as a critical juncture for supply chains everywhere.
So, it’s only natural to look forward to a well-earned break in the holiday season. Just yesterday, many of us celebrated Thanksgiving with friends and loved ones. Like me, I hope you took a moment to savor the warmth, to truly appreciate the people around you, and to engage in meaningful conversations about gratitude and togetherness.
Now, what would really be wonderful is if we could take these moments of reflection and connection back to the office: to slow down and spread feelings of support instead of stress — and do so with even more purpose for those of us in a remote environment. I’ve spent some time thinking about this concept recently and would like to use this edition of SCM Now Impact to offer five ideas:
1. Set aside time for unstructured conversation. We don’t distribute agendas or meeting notes at our Thanksgiving gatherings, and the results are deeper dialogues and lasting bonds. Applying this philosophy to the workplace can help people connect on a more personal level, boost morale, and build trust and camaraderie. Plus, unstructured conversation provides a welcome break from the daily grind, allowing people to relate, laugh and create more positive work environments.
2. Practice active listening. Over a Thanksgiving meal, we go out of our way to check in on friends and family, giving them the space to recount stories about their lives and express their unique perspectives. Likewise, we must acknowledge and validate the feelings of our colleagues and business partners — whether they’re challenged with balancing multiple responsibilities or just feeling the pressure of working in supply chain. Instead of sticking to small talk, ask open-ended questions that invite thoughtfulness and the sharing of experiences. Active listening shows respect, encourages meaningful conversation and helps us connect.
3. Engage in purposeful activities. Holiday gatherings involve playing a favorite game together, creating a collaborative art project, cheering for favorite sports teams or reminiscing over family photographs. These shared activities build lasting memories and strengthen bonds. Back at the office, we can seek out opportunities to organize coffees and lunches (even if over Zoom), celebrate milestones, plan team-building outings, and embrace the spirit of giving by sharing in acts of volunteerism.
4. Unplug (really). I’m sure “no phones at the table” is a rule followed by many families, especially on Thanksgiving. Indeed, how often do we find ourselves inadvertently scanning an email or checking a text while someone is talking to us? We may have every intention of giving them our full attention, but a single alert is often enough to break the spell. So many of us are stuck in the mode of constant responding — whether to pings, emails or fires on the shop floor. Both at home and at work, we must be better at putting away our devices and being truly present. Let’s make a conscious effort to break free from the digital shackles and immerse ourselves in the moments that matter most.
5. Express gratitude explicitly. Thanksgiving is first and foremost a time to be thankful — and that, too, can be brought back to the office. Intentionally plan moments to express your gratitude to those around you. Thank them for their contributions, their achievements and for simply being by your side as you navigate the turbulent waters of supply chain.
And with that last point in mind, all of us at ASCM give thanks to you. Supply chain professionals are the driving force behind job creation, the spirit of sustainable business growth and the foundation of economic vitality. Your efforts have a direct impact on the lives of millions — yet so often, you are an invisible force. In the coming year, let's never lose sight of the profound impact you have on the world and continue to uphold the values that guide our profession: resilience, innovation and a commitment to serving the greater good.