Leading Your Supply Chain To Competitive Advantage

Align with Business, Make The Right Tradeoffs, and Invest Wisely

Creating the Path to a Supply Chain Advantage

In Leading Your Supply Chain to Competitive Advantage, leaders will look through the lens of the “to be” to define how they’ll pursue new leadership skills, risk management plans, opportunities for innovation, and a strategy that parallels the company’s plan for growth.

Program Features

Leading Your Supply Chain to Competitive Advantage consists of six 1-week courses developed with Penn State Smeal College of Business. The program supports leaders in developing a supply chain strategy that parallels the corporate strategy and puts the supply chain on a transformation trajectory that lands the company out ahead of its competitors.


Strategic Leadership Within Your Supply Chain Organization

This module makes the case for supply chain leaders to build a strong partnership with business leaders and to align the supply chain strategy to the organization’s corporate strategy. Learners will begin to understand how to configure and integrate their activities to align with the approach the company is pursuing to build competitive advantage, through cost management, differentiation, or focus. Learners will discover how cross-functional collaboration, analytical tools, optimization software and other factors make best-in-class supply chains so efficiently and effectively.


Building Continuity and Resiliency in Your Supply Chain

Supply chains must be resilient against many kinds of shocks that could be introduced through a vendor bankruptcy, weather event, cyber attacks and other unplanned events. Learners will see how supply chain teams can prepare by analyzing and managing risks, and putting in place continuity plans to minimize impacts from disruptions. In this course, leaders identify strengths and weaknesses in continuity plans, develop risk reduction plans, practice decision making and learn to manage risk levers through a simulated disruption. Participants will discuss ways to address supply chain design, buffers, operating flexibility, security and other levers to prevent or manage disruptions.


Defining Ways to Improve Your Supply Chain

This module directs learners to find improvement opportunities that can create competitive advantages. Participants will learn to compare and prioritize opportunities by collecting data evaluating cost/benefit, ease of implementation and risk for each opportunity. They’ll factor into their analysis the seven supply chain principles that when managed consistently well, yield a world-class supply chain. They’ll also look for opportunities in nine common areas—suppliers, transportation, inventory, SKUs and others—that are rich with potential for improvement. Learners will use assessments, data analysis principles and Pareto charts to find and plan improvements.


Supply Chain as a Competitive Advantage

In this course, learners will discuss competitive levers and changes that would put the supply chain on a path to outperform competitors. They’ll explore the concept of the triple bottom line and how today’s sustainability goals often intersect with objectives to reduce waste and make operations more efficient and safer. Using the Innovation Matrix, learners will collaborate to identify game-changing innovations in two categories: product/service or supply chain process, and two approaches: incremental or radical.


Supply Chain Alignment and Orchestration

The goal of every supply chain team is to achieve complete supply chain orchestration where executives, employees and partners all have complete visibility across the supply chain and real-time information to make good decisions. In this course, learners will use frameworks to evaluate alignment and collaboration, categorize functional areas as Traditional, Progressive or Leading, and evaluate ways to develop new synergies when managing client returns, moving from a demand-driven to market-driven network, using analytics to drive new efficiencies across the supply chain. Participants will work in small groups to determine how they will take action on one improvement opportunity.


Aligning Supply Chain Goals with Your Corporate Strategy

The final course in Leading Your Supply Chain to Competitive Advantage asks learners to consider process-led transformation work that could strengthen the alignment between the supply chain strategy and the company’s strategic priorities. Learners will examine the state of supply chain assets. Are the current assets preventing the company’s effort to lead its industry because they are redundant, inefficient, or in poor repair? Participants will discuss the supply chain’s current level of flexibility and if it could be easily adapted to accommodate a merger or acquisition. The course reviews how supply chain leaders use McKinsey’s 7S Framework and a trajectory diagram to plan improvements supply chain teams can make to put a company out ahead of its competitors.

Download the Course Overview

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Developed in partnership with:


  • Supply Chain Leadership Academy


Steve Tracey

Executive Director of the Center for Supply Chain ResearchTM and Penn State Executive Programs, and Professor for the Supply Chain and Information Systems Department within Smeal College of Business.

John Langley Jr.

Clinical Professor of Supply Chain Management in the Smeal College of Business at Penn State University

Chris Norek

Senior Partner, Chain Connectors, Inc. and Affiliated Faculty Member in Supply Chain Management, Penn State University

Chris Craighead

Dove Professor, Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee, and Affiliate Faculty in Supply Chain Management at Penn State University

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