As the research leader of Gartner’s Power of the Profession program, I am often asked, “What makes a great submission in your awards process? Is XYZ initiative a good candidate for the Power of the Profession?”
This blog is about this doctrine for innovating and then optimizing the initiatives you put forward in the Power of the Profession Awards submissions process. For context, we just released the 2021 Power of the Profession Awards for supply chain excellence in innovation, social impact and people breakthroughs. Through the Power of the Profession Awards, supply chain teams who do awesome things share them and get recognized.
Above all else, I tell leaders interested in the Power of the Profession Awards the same thing. Continuous improvement initiatives in supply chain are hard. Innovation is harder. Being recognized for breaking new ground is the hardest.
Doctrine: a set of beliefs held and taught by a church, political party or other group
In the case of doctrine development, Gartner should be considered an “other group.” And doctrines can be useful. They can set guidelines for how to act in a given situation. In this case, companies want to be recognized as a finalist or a winner for the groundbreaking work they have completed. I have a unique perspective to share from being the research lead on our innovation awards — including the Power of the Profession — in what makes a leading innovation process and compelling submission.
For background, the Power of the Profession is a community-based awards program. Companies submit their initiatives in the categories of process or technology innovation, customer or patient innovation, social impact and people breakthroughs. The community of Gartner supply chain members choose three finalists in each category and then a team of 50 chief supply chain officers selects the winners in each category and an overall best in show.
The doctrine here has seven parts.
- Study past winners (and finalists) for the Power of the Profession (and Supply Chainnovators) over the past two to three years. You can learn a lot from these initiatives and what was and is considered groundbreaking. Innovation evolves over time, but the litmus test of the past when thinking about innovation at your organization is helpful.
- Have an innovation process and make it part of your culture. It is rare that innovation comes about as a perfect storm of capability and opportunity. Organizations that excel in these awards typically are systematic in their efforts. Figure 1 outlines Gartner’s 5E Process for how leading companies approach innovation.
- Select initiatives that are specific and easy to understand. Many organizations want to submit broad transformation programs to Power of the Profession. While commendable, these are more aligned to our Global Supply Chain Top 25 rankings. For Power of the Profession, focus on a single understandable initiative that is more finishing paintbrush than broad roller. The judges need to be able to quickly understand the initiative and be captivated.
- Impact. Impact. Impact. Highlight initiatives that show impact at scale. Collaborative initiatives that impact several areas of a business are even better. One of the challenges internally for many companies is being able to share these numbers externally. Clarify this upfront with commercial and legal teams at your organization. Specific and understandable in No. 3 is great, but “what happened” in great detail brings submissions to life.
- Brand your initiative and present it clearly. Our platform asks what the initiative was, how you did it and its impact. Branding your initiative is a helpful anchoring tool to make it more understandable internally to your company and externally for recognition programs. Get tight in your communication and take advantage of attaching a short document that helps bring the words on the page to life. I advise one attachment that clearly communicates what you want versus multiple documents. Less is more in most cases and you focus your submission better.
- Pick your best submission in each category. As a general rule, multiple entries for a category dilute the impact of your best submission. Judges are human and they are unlikely to vote for your company multiple times. You choose what initiative in a given year had the most impact and put your effort into best telling that story. Some companies even make it an internal competition to be the submission, further refining the process.
- Tap resources at Gartner. We love to illuminate initiatives in the Power of the Profession categories. As mentioned before, innovation and breaking new ground is tough stuff. If you want to review an idea, we are happy to help support. This program is open to Gartner members and non-members alike.
There it is — the Doctrine for Optimizing your Submission for the Power of the Profession. Things change and so may this doctrine and, of course, your results may vary so consider this a starting place to think about your 2022 submissions to the Power of the Profession Awards. Submissions open in May, so watch this space.
Gartner Supply Chain