In my view, there are two areas that will determine sustainable, long-term success for 3PLs in 2011: talent development and retention, and pervasive adoption of Lean practices.
Building non-asset-based businesses requires finding, selecting, developing and managing talent. We all have IT systems, but the difference between being a commodity service and being a value-generating strategic business partner comes down to people – particularly their knowledge, leadership, problem-solving and change management skills, and business process expertise.
Great companies are a reflection of the quality, integrity and innovation of their employees. It’s about having proven techniques and processes that enable an organization to effectively identify and rank talent and leadership potential, slot that talent into the right growth track, nurture and develop individual and team skills, and continually incent high-impact performance through creative, positive motivation and compensation.
The other change agent is lean. The lean journey literally has no end. The learning never stops. Lean is continuous improvement, and at its core, is about respect for people, and unleashing their knowledge and ingenuity to eliminate waste and do the work better. It’s a never ending quest, built on a simple yet powerful framework that drives priorities, and focuses the organization on what is meaningful, measurable and — perhaps most important – provides quantifiable, repeatable value to the customer.
If you can be best-in-class with talent management and drive lean continuous improvement in all you do, the sky’s the limit.