“Ready Up!” What Fortnite Can Teach Us About Supply Chain Leadership – Forbes

I bet you never imagined you would see the video game Fortnite mentioned in the same sentence as the phrase “supply chain leadership.” But as a casual gamer and a supply chain thought leader, I can see how Fortnight, the massive multiplayer videogame that has grown to over 350 million players in only a few years, is a good metaphor for how you should make supply chain change happen in your organization. Don’t worry, even if the last video game you played was Pac-Man or Galaga, you will find that Fortnite is a useful model for how business leaders should approach change leadership in the digital era.

Why Fortnite? The world has changed, and our customer has changed. (You can read about the New Customer here.) Technology has advanced rapidly, enabling things that we could not even dream about five years ago. More than half of the population on the planet has access to information that they have never had in the past. The old top-down creation of a plan, top-down directives, and cascading communication does not work in a 140-character world where any of dozens of social media apps can be the agent that delivers a fatal blow to your strategy. The reality is that an organization that relies on a top-down strategy and massive communications campaign will not succeed. The world changes too fast.

Ready up!

We need a new approach to change leadership that recognizes and leverages the importance of collaboration, flexibility, and speed. That’s how Fortnite is played. Look at how change happens through the eyes of a Fortnite player. Fortnite enables you to accomplish exceptionally hard missions, in an extremely competitive environment…. and have fun doing so. Sound familiar, like to today’s economic climate (only minus the fun for too many). In the case of Fortnite, it turns out that 350 million people like working hard if they have a clear mission and an appropriate way of accomplishing that mission.

The leaders of video game development companies understand the parallels of gameplay and change leadership in a digital economy. “Just like in Fortnite gameplay,” explains Alexander L. Fernandez, CEO of Streamline Media Group, Inc., “people can win in their business or role when they have a dynamic peer-to-peer frequent communication which helps identify organic leadership to drive change.”

Here are a few of the Fortnite principles (that should also be supply chain leadership principles):

Recommended For You
  1. Leadership is dynamic and based on skill. In Fortnite, the Leader forms a squad and gets them on the Battle Bus. After that, leadership shifts as the game progresses. One person may be the best shooter. Another teammate might be the best builder and still, another might be excellent at spotting problems and opportunities. Rigid hierarchies are too slow and too ineffective to keep up with the current pace of change. Supply chain leaders should recognize and adopt this flexible approach to leadership. Business leaders should be able to develop an agile game plan for their supply chain and willing to dynamically adjust it every day, if need be, to match (or anticipate) the pace of change.
  2. The Planet is the Playground: The prime game you will play in Fortnite is a 100-person match where competitors and teammates come from Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas – truly a Global endeavor! Most supply chains are global and require the best talent across the globe. Getting the best players (employees or suppliers) always matters. Their physical proximity is of less importance.
  3. Collaboration leads to winning. Collaboration on a Fortnite squad is not optional. For example, you must revive your teammates if they are severely injured. This helping extends to almost every aspect of the game and everyone knows that your teammates must be successful if the squad has a chance at winning. Supply chain leaders should model collaboration in every aspect of the supply chain and recognize their team members who are good collaborators. For example, we know that companies that deploy cross-functional teams to develop algorithms that combine market knowledge with company operations to optimize supply chain functions do exceptionally well.
  4. Data and action are inextricably linked. Detailed analytics help players know how they are progressing and how the game is moving along. Each player must be data-savvy. Direct, decisive action is the immediate result of analyzing real-time and historical data. Supply chain leaders MUST invest in getting data on the efficiency of new change processes to use that information to make quick market-leading decisions.
  5. Learning is not just an overhead cost. Every player must learn new skills and improve existing skills in every match. People who have learned easily defeat those that have not. Learning is crucial if you hope to compete. The same applies to any business. Supply chain skills must be upgraded in order for any company to successfully compete in a digitally-drive business environment! For example, supply chain leaders should deepen awareness among their team members about the power of algorithms and their horizontal cross-functional impacts.
  6. Right tools are essential. Fortnite has a variety of weapons, each of which has effectiveness rating, firing speed, and distance, among other characteristics. You can’t beat someone who has a gold weapon if you only have grey. Supply chain people need to have the right “weapons” to win. Weapons can include everything from new analytics software to 3D technology to effective research on the New Customer and the right talent necessary for a digital supply chain transformation.
  7. Sometimes you have to ride the shark. In order to win, you have to observe the location and strength of 96 other players. And you also have to react quickly to win. You can ride the shark (a Fortnite mode of transportation) if it helps you get in the right location to avoid the storm. Supply chain leaders need to get out in front and not follow the pack. At the Digital Supply Chain Institute (DSCI), we believe that senior supply chain managers must lead the company strategy or at least be a member of the strategic planning team because the supply chain is the only function in an organization that has touchpoints in every aspect of the business.
  8. Communicate and celebrate. Good Fortnite teams have a culture of communication. They point out threats and react quickly. And when they accomplish a goal or achieve a win they celebrate. Frequently, the celebration is some type of dubstep dance move. Supply chain leaders need to increase the frequency of communication to get real-time data on processes to avoid any mistakes and improve the efficiency of the processes and improve delivery. Companies can create the right team culture for supply chain transformation and celebrate along the way. This can be accomplished by having informal Zoom meetings or virtual happy hours that have no agenda and are similar to the classic discussions at the office water cooler! (The dubstep dance move is optional.)

Go play Fortnite. You may find that everything you need to know about leading supply chain transformation can be learned playing Fortnite.

Please use our Creator CODE: MOKOKIL1

Please follow and like us:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *