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12: How to Thrive in an Environment of Rapid Change: Business Processes, Supply Chains and Business Models with Sunil Chopra

By James Rosseau, Sr.

Whether you are just starting your business or operating a business that you wish to take to the next level, you will need to understand how to deal with changes taking place within the external environment.  On this episode, I am pleased to welcome Professor Sunil Chopra from the Kellogg School of Management.  Professor Chopra discusses what entrepreneurs should be learning from Amazon in terms of opportunities, two key business processes that entrepreneurs need to pay attention to and how supply chain management thinking can be applied to any business to uncover opportunities. Key Highlights The changing needs of students [2:45] Dealing with the rate of change itself. You have to learn how to explain the changes in the past while learning how these changes are applied to the future. Requires people to have the ability to work with all different kinds of people in order to gain a broader perspective. What entrepreneurs should be learning from Amazon in terms of opportunities – business models are changing rapidly [4:45] The company shifted from online only to reaching people locally through the acquisition of wholefoods. Realizing its outbound shipping is roughly 15% of UPS worldwide, it is now establishing Amazon logistics, to own its distribution of packages on the ground. Two Business Processes that entrepreneurs need to pay attention to. [7:00] First: People will develop complementary capabilities and businesses need to be careful about getting stuck in the middle. Blockbuster is a prime example – Netflix took the floor (the older movies) with a more efficient distribution model; Redbox took the new release wall and put them in vending machines all over the place. Second: The opportunity for entrepreneurs to develop more peer to peer platforms. Applying Supply Chain Management thinking to your business as an entrepreneur: Three Key Flows - - Even it if is a Digital Product [11:30] Any supply chain involves all three flows. The entrepreneur needs to understand where they have opportunities.  Information: Using Amazon as an example. They are providing efficiencies on information on a lot of products at one time. Product: They are giving you efficiency on the product, which is picked, packed and shipped from one place. Funds: They are giving you efficiencies on funds as you only pay Amazon as opposed to the multiple suppliers of the products that you are purchasing. You want to think about how you create value through these information flows. Efforts to solve for deprived areas of education in India [16:00] Professor Chopra’s Journey towards education [18:00] What to look forward to in regard to Business Processes going forward [20:00] Successful operations will have three parts Designing the operating system – what should the process look like? The management infrastructure – what metrics do I need? The people – mindsets and behaviors? Every process is ultimately operated by people.  Every industry has done a decent job on the first two pieces, but this third piece needs more attention. What to look forward to in regard to Supply Chain Management going forward [21:30] It will be very difficult to have an either/or in business in terms of online or brick and mortar, businesses will need both. Key Take-Aways Be thoughtful in starting your business. Start with your strengths, outsourcing all else where you can (e.g. how Amazon did online).  Over time, you can disintermediate and take things in-house and gain more margin if you want to grow those capabilities. As it relates to Business Processes, be mindful of the growth of Peer-to-Peer platforms and the opportunities they present. Supply Chain Management: Examine the three flows within your supply chain for opportunities for opportunities.

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