Sense & Respond

In 2005 I came across a book, Sense & Respond (The Journey to Customer Purpose) Creating and Leading Sense-And-Respond Organizations.

I was sitting on the train, on my way to a client site in Switzerland at the time (leading a global project working in Deloitte & Touch) and I came across this paragraph: “A sense-and-respond organization does not attempt to predict future demand for its offerings. Instead, it identifies changing customer needs and new business challenges as they happen, responding to them quickly and appropriately before these new opportunities disappear or metamorphose into something else. Adaptability has come to be increasingly valued in recent years, and the terms flexibility, agility, and responsiveness crop up frequently in business discussions today.”

As I was sitting at the train my brain started to explode, I was looking through the window at the view and thought, I am going to change my path. I have then taken the decision to move from IT (ERP & CRM mainly) career path to Supply Chain journey, I was excited by the evolution of the WWW and could only imagine what impact it will lead to the supply chain, 20 years later I am sure that at that point I did not grasp the full evolution.

Fast forward to 2021, Gartner published an article “Cultivate Next-Generation Sensing Capabilities” they are referring to the supply chain ability to better Sense & Respond in real time to generate value across the organization.

“A key focus is the ability to sense environmental changes through data-driven insights, thus enabling a more agile and swift response. To achieve this, many supply chains are turning to control tower capabilities that leverage structured and unstructured data from across the end-to-end supply chain, as well as data from the public domain and/or social media (for example, risk, weather, economic or syndicated data).

However, while any company with a supply chain across virtually any industry can use supply chain control-tower-type capabilities, the term “control tower” still means many different things to many people. This creates a recipe for confusion within businesses and more broadly in the marketplace.

Gartner defines a “control tower” as a concept combining five elements — people, process, data, and organization, supported by a set of technology-enabled capabilities for transparency and coordination. The potential span of responsibility for a supply chain. At the article published today they have written “Sense and Respond in Real Time: The Continued Growth and Investment in Control Towers.”

Unilog is doing what I was hardly able to imagine back in 2005, yet I had a clear vision that it should combine people, process and technology. Performance in motion, this is how we Sense & Respond in real-time.

The term “Sense & Respond” was coined by Alan Hohne at Australia’s Westpac Bank in the early 1990s, and was first published in a 1992 Management Review article by Stephan H. Haeckel. At that point, it was not much more than a description of characteristics large organizations would need in order to survive in a climate of unpredictable change. Over the next several years Haeckel elaborated the term into a comprehensive set of managerial concepts and prescriptions. These were the foundation of articles and Executive Education classes taught at IBM’s Advanced Business Institute in the 1990s, and of the book Adaptive Enterprise: Creating and Leading Sense-and-Respond Organizations, published by Harvard Business School Press in 1999.


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About the Author

Osi heads up the Unilog team and describes herself as a lifelong learner. “I love being part of the Unilog team, whom I have the privilege to meet every day. Unilog, my business partners over the years, our clients, projects and challenges all provide me joy and sense of adventure.”

Osi has deep knowledge and experience in managing highly complex global supply chains and worked in global companies such as EY, Deloitte, Netafim, UPS SCS and UTI. She uses the skills acquired during her MBA, as a finance and system analyst, and group dynamic facilitator in her work.

Osi enjoys writing and photography and loves being a mother to her three kids

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