We’ve got a wide variety of content in the most recent issue of MDM Premium with a running theme through all of it: The importance of having a plan that is built from the ground up. A well-thought-out plan is both the cornerstone and keystone to any business initiative. It’s there to set the foundation for a project. Then, when you’re in the thick of it so much that you may not even remember which corner holds the stone, you have the plan to revisit and position to support the weight of the rest of the project.
In “Kimball Midwest Pivots Training to Overcome COVID-19 Challenges,” the cornerstone was set nearly 100 years ago when the Columbus, Ohio-based distributor went into business with a commitment to maintain an environment of continuous learning for its employees. With that foundation in place, Director of Sales Development Kate Callison tells MDM how the company was able to weather the challenges of a remote work environment over the last 15 months without losing ground on its robust training and development programs.
According to Callison, the leadership team mindset when they could no longer bring people into headquarters or distribution centers — where 80% of training usually happened — was, “We’ve got a whole new environment here, and there’s a lot of change going on, how can we further adjust and adapt and create content that’s relevant for right now that’s going to help our associates and our customers get through this?”
Be sure to read how the team made it happen in this issue’s cover story. But here’s a hint: The process relied heavily on their existing plan.
Then, while Alibaba’s John Caplan addressed the current e-commerce landscape in “Alibaba Executive: Tips to Form an E-commerce Game Plan,” delivered during a presentation at ISA21, he made a simple but excellent point: You have to establish your e-commerce plan with elements so basic that they might seem obvious and therefore never be discussed. For example, he said distributors need to know exactly what it is you want to sell through e-commerce channels and who you want to buy those products. Don’t assume everyone is already on the same page. “The more you can communicate authentically what you sell, who you are, and how you do business, the more effective the online channel will be for you,” he said.
Lastly, Bharani Nagarathnam, Ph.D., associate director of the Master of Industrial Distribution Program at Texas A&M University, talks about developing a plan for recruiting new employees through the lens of an employee value proposition. In “How to Recruit the Next Generation,” Nagarathnam explains, “It’s very important for us to understand why people join companies, and why people leave companies. One way to achieve this is by developing an employee value proposition, which is very similar to a customer value proposition. … An employee value proposition is about why you should come work for us — beyond the pay.”
Although they play out in different ways, you’ll find that all three main articles in this issue demonstrate success stories driven by a plan that did not make assumptions and skip the basics. The result is a solid framework for growth.