For Three Days, Gartner’s Purpose-Driven Supply Chain Symposium Took Center Stage

By David Gonzalez | October 05, 2021 | 0 Comments

Supply ChainPower of the ProfessionSupply Chain Strategy, Leadership and Governance

Chairing a supply chain event is a thrilling experience — watching the theme, agenda and content take shape and come to life is a tremendous process to behold.

If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a company of the brightest brains and experienced professionals to deliver a supply chain symposium. In a year where supply chain leaders have led teams of people and delivered business strategies during a very disruptive and critical period, our Gartner Supply Chain Symposium was uniquely designed to address key issues.

Carefully-crafted sessions set out to answer questions such as, “What does it mean to be purpose-driven?” “How do I energize my teams?” and “How can we accelerate our digital ambition amid all this disruption?”

In my humble opinion, all the content we featured this year was of the highest standard and quality and if I was writing an encyclopedia, I would wax lyrical about each one of the more than 100 sessions we transmitted over the three days. Alas, this is a blog, so I have picked out my top three highlights. As Julie Andrews said, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start …”

The event opened with the Gartner keynote, “From Cause to Cure — Purpose-Driven Outcomes for a Fractured World,” which was passionately delivered by my colleagues Dana Stiffler and Simon Bailey.

This year´s keynote centered on three big ideas: Sustainable Profit, Shared Purpose and Value-aligned Ecosystems.

Source: Gartner Opening Keynote session storyboard animation by artist Axelle Vanquaillie


Sustainable profit
is durable, resilient and holistic. It’s crucial to address the stresses and strains that have led to fatigue, to revise our view to make externalities intrinsic, and to refocus on what is material and what matters most. Start by taking a materiality assessment to plot stakeholder concerns against their potential impact on your business and to identify ESG issues that could impact finances or operations.

Shared purpose connects your company with your employees, resulting in increased well-being, engagement and performance. Connect employees’ work with causes that matter to them, act on social issues and connect through a shared purpose. Connecting employees to purpose in their work and providing choices is important for health, engagement and performance.

Value-aligned ecosystems allow you to deliver new outcomes by finding new ways to work with novel partners. New ways of working — particularly new circular ways of thinking — will help put us on the path to sustainable profit, with novel partnerships making these new ways of working viable. The future of sustainable profit lies in balanced ecosystems where all participants bring capabilities which are traded through equitable value exchange.

An important and popular feature of any supply chain symposium is the industry guest speaker keynote. This year we were in conversation with Ewan Andrew, Diageo’s procurement and supply chain president and chief sustainability officer. During the question-and-answer session, Ewan shared his perspectives on several issues, including:

How can companies be bold and take measured risks? Develop close collaboration and build out detailed business cases for investments to deliver sustainable, profitable growth. Get in early and make decisions quickly to avoid missing consumer or market share opportunities. The customer lens is crucial in making improvements and investments.

How do you influence partners in an ecosystem to move quicker? Show up to conversations ready to listen, get curious and be willing to offer resources. The more we can find and develop these ecosystems, the faster we can improve.

How are you engaging your workforce with purpose? Focus on employee well-being and engagement by having general guidelines and tailoring your philosophy to individual situations. This provides a level of consistency without having to be too precise with policy.

How can leaders adapt for concerns of the exhausted workforce? Listen, understand and then act. Talk about future ambitions and performance while getting into conversations at individual and company-wide levels. Be relatable and transparent to build a strong team environment.

My third and final highlight from this year´s supply chain symposium is a session delivered by my colleague and fellow VP Analyst, Pierfrancesco Manenti. Pier´s session set out a vision for the future of supply chain which is:

To Be More Purpose-driven:

  • Align the portfolio with customer-centric products and services that have a positive impact on society.
  • Engage the ecosystem through partnerships that share and enable a common purpose.
  • Empower employees through organizational diversity, equity and inclusion.

Minimize the Risk-to-serve:

  • Unleash visibility with access to accurate, timely and complete information.
  • Develop agility and resilience by sensing and responding to unanticipated change.
  • Reduce surface area of the supply chain to minimize disruption.

Scale Autonomous Supply Chains:

  • Align digital strategy by creating a cost-optimized and customer-centric operating model.
  • Embrace hyper automation by automating all non-value-added human activity.
  • Design the future of work by refreshing and broadening employees’ knowledge stocks.

For those who attended, we’re honored that you chose to spend a few days with us and we are proud to partner with you to drive competitive advantage for your organization. With so much blending of personal and work hours lately, we recognize just how hard it can be to carve out time for learning and networking. We look forward to working with you over the coming year and to seeing you at Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo 2022.

David Gonzalez
VP Analyst
Gartner Supply Chain
David.Gonzalez@gartner.com

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