Revisiting Asking Good Questions (Insights from Indago)

Editor’s Note: In March 2015, we published a post titled “Did You Ask A Good Question Today?” that discussed why asking good questions is an important skill, especially for supply chain professionals. We revisited this topic a few weeks ago with our Indago supply chain research community. Below are some highlights from the survey results.

“Leaders today need to revisit an overlooked skill: asking questions,” says John Hagel III in a Harvard Business School Review article titled, “Good Leadership Is About Asking Good Questions.” This is not about asking a lot of questions but about asking “good” questions — that is, per John Hagel III, “questions that invite people to come together to explore major new opportunities that your organization hasn’t identified yet.”

How would you characterize the question-asking skills of your supply chain organization?

The vast majority of our Indago member respondents (74%) characterized the question-asking skills of the people in their supply organization as “Fair.” Only 4% characterized it as “Very Good.” In short, there is a lot of room for improvement in this area.

Source: Indago, August 2021 survey (n=27)

What is your big supply chain question? Our Indago members, who are all supply chain and logistics professionals from manufacturing, retail, and distribution companies, submitted a variety of questions focused on many topics. Here are a few examples:

“Our big question today is ‘How do we build our supply chain and supply chain systems today to best scale with our business of the future?’ This covers the gamut of thinking around the suppliers we use, logistics companies we contract with, systems we implement and customers we work with to best understand everything that is needed in our supply chain of the future.”

“How is Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) being used to drive better decisions in our supply chain? Can we quantify the benefits?”

“How can supply chain support our sustainability goals?”

“How can we improve our overall supply chain visibility?”

“How can we develop our supply chain to better utilize the transportation capacity we have access to?

“What investments in IT and IT support are most important and do my employees know enough about them to take full advantage?”

“What tools are we using to attract and retain the best talent in this highly competitive labor market? What tools aren’t we using, and should we consider adding those to our strategy?”

“What can be done in supply planning to help resolve fill rate and over- attainment aside from safety stock?”

“How can we develop a resilient supply chain that would be more flexible in responding to unanticipated disruptions in supply?”

“How do we improve our supply chain so that we never disappoint a customer?”

“How can we adjust (or even rebuild) our global supply chain to overcome the many challenges we face today, and to avoid similar challenges in the future?”

How would you characterize the question-asking skills of your supply chain organization? What is your big supply chain question? Post a comment and share your perspective!

Join Indago Today

If you’re a supply chain or logistics practitioner from a manufacturing, retail, or distribution company, I encourage you to learn more about Indago and join our research community. It is confidential, there is no cost to join and the time commitment is minimal (2-5 minutes per week) — plus your participation will help support charitable causes like JDRF, American Logistics Aid Network, American Cancer Society, Feeding America, and Make-A-Wish.

You can also follow us on LinkedIn to stay informed of our latest research results and news.