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How Navigating the Pandemic Helped Us Write a Roadmap for Future Success

By Rodrigo Lance, SVP, Global Supply Chain

At Kellanova, our purpose is to create better days and a place at the table for everyone through our trusted food brands. Our supply chain takes great pride in our role to take food from the farm to the table – safely, efficiently and responsibly, to provide our world-class brands to our consumers.  

For Kellanova and companies around the globe, the pandemic created many challenges, including labor shortages, inflation, supply chain shortages and transportation bottlenecks. We learned a lot as a supply chain – including three best practices that are shaping the future of our supply chain and can help us and others be prepared for any future disruptions. 

1. Invest in a solid work system. It’ll pay off in performance. 

A work system defines what and how work is done across a supply chain. We’ve now had our work system, Kellanova Work System (KWS), previously Kellogg Work System, in place for 10 years. Here in North America, we often seek instant gratification, but a winning work system cannot be created overnight. It’s a journey that requires constant investment and patience to see results and drive performance. 

During the pandemic, several years into our adoption of KWS, we saw that the further along a plant was on its KWS journey, the better it was able to weather the storm. KWS allowed us to maintain our foundation, while also addressing the challenges that emerged during the pandemic. It resulted in a more capable workforce, the discipline to deal with challenges and consistent governance across the plants.  

We don’t look at work systems as additional work. Our work system is the way we work.  

2. Think of digital as an enabler, not a strategy. 

One survey of 1,000 industry leaders conducted by MHI found 64% of them agree investments in the digital space are the future of a resilient supply chain.  

One critical element is cybersecurity. We can’t experience the beauty of all things digital without a strong cybersecurity program. Often, when people think of cybersecurity, they first think of IT, but supply chain has a role to play in protecting our facilities.  

Another common misconception: that digital just means going paperless. Another: that going paperless for the sake of going paperless is enough. It’s so much more than that. Digital is every element from Automation to Artificial Intelligence to Data, Analytics and Reporting – and when paired with the foundation of a functional work system, these are more than fancy tools. They enable the work system. 

3. Unleash culture as a differentiator. 

Lastly, let’s think about the role of leadership during the pandemic. While many people were able to work remotely throughout the pandemic, Plant Directors and their teams needed to go into the plants each day to produce the food people needed. To keep going during uncertain times, our leaders united their teams under a common goal – to feed the nation, while keeping our food and people safe. Culture became an even more integral ingredient to success.  

Even now, in more “normal” times, we must continue thinking about how we bring the right culture to life to attract and retain people to supply chain. In Kellanova’s supply chain, we identified four elements of our team culture: Courage, ED&I (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion), Empowerment and Emotional Safety. All four elements encourage our people to speak up without fear or sugarcoating and contribute to a sense of belonging. We intend to create space to help our people get the knowledge, means and confidence to achieve, while also making them feel safe to take risks.  

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At the intersection of efficient work systems, digitization and culture, we’ve found a roadmap for future success. These best practices will make a difference in our supply chain and the people in it and can be applied elsewhere too. 

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