Your Team’s Ability to Change & Grow Will Be Your Future - Modern Distribution Management

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Your Team’s Ability to Change & Grow Will Be Your Future

Distributors who build a learning organization empower creativity and agility, differentiating themselves in the face of challenges and nurturing growth.
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We’re in a once-in-a-lifetime period of industry and business model transformation — a massive shift — and I passionately believe that means incredible growth opportunities for distributors in the next few years. That’s why we’re bringing together more than 200 innovators — peers, thought leaders, consultants, and service providers — who are redefining the future of distribution to our SHIFT conference, to be held Sept. 18-20 in Denver. 

Over three days, we’ll explore how to create a more effective sales process, how to best leverage digital tools — including AI! — and build stronger data analytics capability. And the key variable going forward will be the talent and culture you and your leadership team foster.  

This is the formula for success in the future for every size distributor. What are you doing today to help your next-gen leaders learn how to prepare for that future?

As I’ve been preparing for this event, a recurring theme has been the accelerating rate of change and how to best leverage it, against a backdrop of an aging workforce and the inability to move as fast as customers are moving in the ways they want to work with their suppliers today. The Jeff Bezos phrase, “Your margin is my opportunity,” can be paraphrased to paint the next few years, I think, into something like, “Your lack of speed and ability to adapt to customer and market conditions is my share opportunity.” I know, not as catchy, and I don’t expect it to go viral. That’s OK.  

The essential capability for distributors to develop and manage ongoing disruptive markets is the ability to manage change well, and its more powerful and related corollary — how to transform. At my age, that is extremely hard work, but essential to make sure we stay relevant to our customers. I know that this next generation of digital natives is going to take an increasingly larger role in making that critical transition every company needs to make – more responsive, faster and innovative in creating customer solutions.

And this leads to my last shameless plug for our conference that starts in less than two weeks. Our mission at MDM is to help distribution executives compete more effectively. And we support the work of Texas A&M and other organizations in building distribution careers. This conference, more than any we have programmed in the past seven years, will help you and your emerging leaders accelerate their own and your performance, team development and strategy – with the assessment tools, road map and insights that SHIFT is designed to give you. Here’s what that looks like: 

We’ve put together an agenda and speaker roster this year that I’m confident can have a greater impact on your results in 2024 than any other effort you may work on this fall. That’s a tall order, but here’s why: 

  • Assessment. Monday afternoon we kick off with a two-hour roundtable session, where you’ll benchmark current capabilities with non-competitive peers in all distribution sectors – where you are today across the critical transformation levers of sales process, data analytics, technology and people. You’ll take the assessment questions home for your team. Then the final session of the conference is a one-hour intensive workshop lead by Greg Fern, a Senior Partner in McKinsey & Company’s Transformation practice, “Navigating Change: From Strategy to Execution.”  
  • Road map. The McKinsey distribution team keynotes Tuesday morning with the latest on how top-performing leaders across distribution are creating value and competitive differentiation. That’s followed by sessions on go-to-market strategy and successful change management by Mike Marks, Maria Boulden of Gartner and others to help your team accelerate transformational results. 
  • Insights. Our Wednesday keynote highlights MDM’s just-released research findings on the practical application of AI in distribution to help you clarify its role in your tech stack and strategy. And through our many panels and roundtable discussions, you’ll learn how other distributors and manufacturers are navigating the same challenges you are across sales process, technology, data analytics and people/talent/culture. 

Here’s a sampling of companies sharing lessons learned from their transformation journeys: Motion, Global Industrial, ADI Global, ARG Industrial, Hisco, Valin Corporation, Sims HD, Henry Schein, Employee Owned Holdings, Ludwig Meister and many more. 

There’s still time to register and attend! If you can’t, consider sending one or more of your future leaders and rising stars. They will gain some deep perspectives outside of their normal industry association networks that will elevate their future value to your company. If it’s not possible for someone from your organization to join us this year, I urge you not to let the immediate demands of what every fall season brings in this industry to back-burner your team development.  

The differentiators that technology gives to distributors are as important as they have always been, but the gaps are shrinking quickly. The most successful emerging organizations in distribution are the ones who are creating the culture and team of the future. Let’s do everything we can to get the best and the brightest of the next generation to stay engaged, keep learning and lead this industry forward. 

Register to attend MDM’s SHIFT | The Future of Distribution conference, to be held Sept. 18-20 in Denver.

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