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The logistics and supply chain industry is embarking on a new era characterized by significant advancements in technology and sustainability. As the sector moves forward, inspiration for continued progress comes from an unexpected source: SpaceX.
SpaceX has earned its place as the leader in space, but it’s not because the company dedicated all its attention to one single service or solution — quite the opposite. SpaceX was founded in 2002 to make more affordable rockets. The team famously obsessed over space-related problems and, in time, decided to aim higher and expand its mission. This resulted not only in more affordable rockets but also multi-use rocket and communication technologies that have disrupted the global space industry.
The takeaway for logistics leaders here on the ground? A lot of good comes when you keep focus on the problems you’re trying to solve rather than fixating solely on your solution.
The benefits of obsessing over the problem
SpaceX is a perfect example of an organization that never takes its focus off the problem it’s trying to solve. This philosophy encourages teams to evaluate big challenges their industry and customers face from different angles, staying attuned to shifts that may affect their approach. When teams are constantly re-evaluating whether there is a better way, they are driven toward new and comprehensive solutions that could ultimately benefit customers, individual organizations, industries and even society at large.
When logistics leaders hone in on industry challenges, these three benefits will follow:
Solutions that stem from a deep understanding of an issue are more likely to be sustainable in the long term. This rings especially true in logistics where labor shortages, fuel costs, lack of warehousing space, inventory management, supply chain disruptions, delivery delays and heightened consumer expectations are on the rise. Fortunately, renewing focus on the industry’s challenges — and how these problems came to be — presents an opportunity for leaders to see lasting benefits.
By understanding the root causes of core problems, leaders can focus on addressing the underlying issues rather than develop temporary Band-Aid solutions that only temporarily relieve the symptoms.
Like SpaceX, continually obsessing over a problem allows teams to examine each challenge from varying perspectives over time, which could lead to brand-new solutions. By evaluating problems from different angles, logistics leaders can infuse innovative thinking into every corner of their company and culture.
As an example of innovation, let’s take another look at the word “sustainability.” We’ve touched on long-term sustainability from a business perspective, but what about sustainability from an environmental standpoint?
It’s estimated that today’s retail supply chain accounts for some 25% of global emissions. High carbon emissions in the sourcing, manufacturing, warehousing and shipping processes as well as material waste and energy consumption throughout the supply chain are to blame. Simply investing in carbon offsetting won’t make a difference. Logistics leaders need to think beyond a quick fix and get comfortable exploring bold alternatives, like electrifying their delivery fleets and providing carbon-neutral deliveries. If leaders empower their teams to stay focused on the problems at hand and think about possibilities beyond their service or solution, providers might unearth planet-positive innovations.
Elevated customer satisfaction
Obsessing over solving the problems industries and customers face can lead to increased customer satisfaction. Why? Because customers want to be heard and want their needs addressed — and they’ll stay loyal to companies that provide a positive experience.
With an understanding of the challenges plaguing the logistics industry, leaders can take a customer-centric approach to problem-solving. It’s a strategy that ensures solutions are tailored to exceed customer needs and expectations. The same goes for key stakeholders. When every player in a logistics operation understands the problem — and continually assesses where things stand and how they impact partners and end customers — it’s easier to gain consensus on solutions that better serve the company, partners and their shared customers.
This approach also helps leaders avoid unnecessary risks. By understanding the problem, leaders better grasp the potential risks and how they affect customers and stakeholders. Rather than wandering too far down the wrong path, leaders can develop strategies to mitigate risks and instead focus time and energy on how to best serve customers.
The logistics industry is experiencing pivotal shifts, but there are lessons to be learned from entrepreneurs in other verticals. Regardless of industry, there are endless opportunities to enact positive change. Leaders who obsess over industry problems and their root causes — and how they impact key stakeholders — have a powerful edge over their competition to develop innovative and lasting solutions.