Workplace innovator advises 1-degree shifts for big gains

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted global supply chains and changed the way businesses operate. 

Eric Termuende, a thought innovator on workplace culture, said the key to creating a successful “workplace of tomorrow” is finding leaders who can recognize small shifts that can build workplaces that thrive.

“I believe it’s the small, little 1-degree shifts over and over and over that allow us to not just calibrate but recalibrate, that allow us to build a more intentional future and intentional culture,” Termuende said in the opening keynote address Monday at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals’ (CSCMP) 2020 EDGE Supply Chain Virtual Conference and Exhibition.

Eric Termuende, a workplace innovator, provided the keynote address to the 2020 Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals’ (CSCMP) EDGE Supply Chain Conference and Exhibition. (Photo: FreightWaves)

With its focus on cutting-edge technologies, leadership development and industry disruptors, CSCMP’s annual EDGE conference represents all facets of the supply chain. In addition to keynote speakers, EDGE features educational tracks and C-level discussion forums on emerging trends, risk management, forecasting and planning, transportation and logistics.

Termuende appeared at last year’s EDGE conference as a member of a panel of experts discussing millennials and the gig economy. He wrote the book “Rethink Work: Finding and Keeping the Right Talent” and is the chief evangelist at the consulting company The Now of Work Inc. 

“Many organizations think that a good five- to 10-year plan is what we need to be successful and that’s definitely true,” Termuende said. “But the future is tough to predict and despite our best-laid plans, sometimes it’s not just how we act. But it’s how we react to the world around us that lets us truly be as successful as possible.”

Termuende said the first thing any company needs to do is envision what its goal is, then measure and evaluate along the way, and third is to experiment, try new things in order to get feedback to see if it is closer to its goals. 

As an example, Termuende used a 2014 Red Bull contest he participated in with two classmates from the University of Calgary. Red Bull’s “Can You Make it?” contest flew over 200 global teams of three university students to London. Each team had 24 cans of Red Bull to be used as currency and had to trade the cans for food, transport and lodging in order to get to Berlin in a week.

Termuende said the first night in Europe was rough for his team. They didn’t have much food and they slept in a bus stop during a cold night.

“What we quickly learned is that the police officers weren’t going to give us a ride, the bus driver was going to kick us off the bus because we didn’t have money. The taxi drivers need to make a living. That wasn’t going to work either,” Termuende said. “What we realized along the way is that for every time we failed doing something, we also learned more.”

Termuende and his team finally made it to Berlin in seven days, using no money, cellphones or prearranged transportation.

“We made it because we were friends, we trusted each other and we made a series of 1-degree shifts over and over and over, but our goal never changed,” Termuende said. 

To achieve workplaces that thrive, even virtual ones, Termuende recommended five questions company leaders should be asking:

  1. Where is there friction?
  2. What should I be doing about it?
  3. Where is it going wrong?
  4. Where is it really going wrong?
  5. What is the smallest viable change I can make?

“When we adopt this 1-degree shift principle, it is a system that allows us to live life as it happens to grow, to learn, to develop together that the future is not just survivable, it’s drivable,” Termuende said.

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