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Les Brookes

CEO, Oliver Wight EAME

Business leaders are being urged to switch focus to longer-term planning following the disruptions of the COVID pandemic. 


Over the last two years, major firms have concentrated on the short-term outlook as COVID-19 impacted supply chains, working patterns, manufacturing processes and manpower resources.

Industry expert Les Brookes explains: “Many organisations – for good reason – have been drawn into the short-term due to the volatility that the pandemic created, whether that was due to needing to take out capacity to cope with the downturn, or the opposite extreme of increasing capacity to cope with demand.

“However, there comes a point, where refocusing on the medium-to-longer-term of 24-36 months becomes critical to steering big organisations in the right direction for the future as we come out of this period of volatility.”

New challenges

The elongation of supply chains, varying lead times and the need to re-evaluate manufacturing capacity, underline the need to look further into the future to meet these challenges.

Using the analogy of a large ocean liner, where a captain starts to turn well in advance as it takes time for big vessels to change direction, he warns that business leaders also need to change course now to understand potential future challenges.

“They need an integrated view of the future portfolio and to look at that from an integrated end-to-end supply chain standpoint,” he says.

People need to understand what they did and capture that in a repeatable process.

Future constraints

The focus should also fall on issues such as distribution patterns, acquiring warehousing space and capital expenditure, where he says leadership must have a plan to make the necessary investments ahead of demand. However, he also points to ‘positives’ emerging from the pandemic with a clearer understanding of how to manage in the short term and cope with volatility.

Brookes, who is CEO at business management consultants Oliver Wight EAME, says: “People need to understand what they did and capture that in a repeatable process so for the future, they have a process they can go to when volatility increases.”

Integrated business planning

As an organisation, Oliver Wight engages with companies to analyse and define what the future could look like in terms of business management and help them transform via the integrated business planning concept.

“That is the radar that allows people at leadership level to focus on the critical decisions and the points across the horizon that those decisions need to be made.” He says the shift to the longer-term vision will mean a change for leadership and emphasises on the importance of coaching personnel in new ways of working.

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