At Kellogg Company, our purpose is to create Better Days and a place at the table for everyone through our trusted food brands. Our supply chain takes great pride in our role to take food from the farm to the table – safely, efficiently and responsibly, to provide our world-class brands to our consumers.
For Kellogg and companies around the globe, the pandemic created many challenges, including labor shortages, inflation, ingredient and material shortages and transportation bottlenecks. We learned a lot – including three best practices that are shaping the future of our supply chain and can help us and others be prepared for any future disruptions.
1. Invest in a solid work system. It’ll pay off in performance.
A work system defines what and how work is done across a supply chain. We’ve now had our work system, Kellogg Work System (KWS), in place for 10 years. It’s human nature to seek instant gratification – but a winning work system cannot be created overnight. It’s a journey. Along the way, you build capabilities to help your business run better.
Several years into Kellogg’s adoption of KWS, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. What we saw was this: The further along a plant was on its KWS journey, the better it was able to weather the storm. KWS gave us the ability to maintain our foundation, while also addressing the challenges that emerged during the pandemic. KWS resulted in a more capable workforce, the discipline to deal with challenges and consistent governance across our plants.
We don’t look at work systems as something extra. Our work system is the way we work.
2. Utilize digital as an enabler to boost performance, create resilience and attract and retain talent.
Once we had a work system in place, digital helped us elevate it. A common misconception about digital is that it’s simply about going paperless – but it’s so much more. Our digital journey has several elements, including smart factory applications, automation, artificial intelligence, digital twins, data & analytics and end-to-end connectivity.
Another critical element of our journey is cybersecurity. That’s about playing defense with digital. We can’t experience the benefits of digital without a strong cybersecurity program. Often, when people think of cybersecurity, they first think of IT, but supply chain has a role to play in protecting the technology in our facilities.
We must play offense with digital too – in order to drive profitable growth. Digital tools and capabilities, such as smart factory applications, provide us visibility into inefficiencies we could not address before digital – for instance, where we could be making more food or packing more efficiently. What’s more, digital twins allow us to create models of our lines and equipment in the digital space to fix gaps in design or performance before we invest capital in real equipment and infrastructure.
3. Unleash culture as a differentiator.
Lastly, let’s think about the role of leadership during the pandemic. To keep going during uncertain times, our leaders united their teams under a common goal – to feed the world, while keeping our food and people safe. Culture became an even more integral ingredient to success.
Even now, post pandemic, we must think about how we bring the right culture to life to attract and retain the right people in supply chain. We identified four elements of our supply chain team culture: Courage, ED&I (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion), Empowerment and Emotional Safety Net. Together, these four elements will help us to unlock the environment we want to see in our supply chain: one that’s agile, where team members feel comfortable speaking up and taking risks, making decisions at the right level of the business and bringing their whole selves to work. That’s how we’ll continue driving the business into the future.
At the intersection of efficient work systems, digitization and culture, we’ve found a roadmap for future success. These best practices will make a difference in our supply chain and the people in it and can be applied elsewhere too.