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Necessity is (still) the mother of all invention



The original proverb, attributed to Plato, continues be correct time and time again in our modern world.


Take the perfect storm of Covid, Brexit and the lack of HGV drivers which we blogged about previously. The current scenario has logistics companies and retailers scrabbling for the scarce resource of qualified drivers. What do you do when other competitors with deeper pockets are prepared to negotiate with a bigger offer for a larger slice of the pie?


The answer is simple – make the pie BIGGER. So what does this mean in reality? – and is it easier to say than do?


A recent example can be shown through an inventive approach by a company called Country Range - a group of 12 wholesalers supplying food and non-food items to schools, care homes, hotels, restaurants and small shops. A BBC news story, reported the boss of Country Range as saying that the group was buying smaller vans in the face of "significant" problems caused by a lack of qualified HGV drivers. They approached the logistical challenge by solving the problem of human resource by changing necessary qualification requirements. Problem solved! (at least in the short term).


Maybe the cost of changing to increased numbers of smaller vehicles is outweighed by the cheaper, more plentiful numbers of drivers who can drive vans rather than lorries. This potentially offers the first movers the competitive advantage of picking up other unfulfilled contracts stuck in a negotiating deadlock.


Sometimes problem solving can offer a viable low-cost alternative to negotiating, other times it can be used in conjunction with other forms of conflict resolution. Organisations that create an environment where creativity is welcomed, encouraged and rewarded can provide unexpected positive results. All we would suggest you do is consider it in your planning for your commercial conflict approach.


Sam Macbeth, 2nd September 2021

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