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Dressed for the future


This week I was reminded by my two great nieces that we need to be setting goals and looking into the future. Living in the present or only perpetuating the status quo will not fuel growth and reinvention.

When you look in the near and not-so-near future, do you think your company will be in the same industry? In this rapidly shifting business environment, that’s a question that must be asked. Companies and industries are in constant change. To remain competitive and relevant you must imagine a new future.

It is important to recognize that transformation is occurring across the retail supply chain and literally modifying its historic footprint. As I look at other industries that have experienced tumultuous change, three examples rise to the top: taxi (Uber), hotel (Airbnb), and telecommunications (Apple), to name a few.

Other catalysts for change involve technology and access. These factors are altering traditional industry boundaries. The lines between suppliers, producers, and consumers are shifting.  In our industry, we need to look no further for examples than the current reported negotiations between CVS Health and Aetna, Walgreens Boots Alliance’s agreement for the manufacture and supply of own beauty brands and private label products, or the potential aspirations of Amazon as it contemplates pharmaceutical distribution.

Another huge shift — especially within the healthcare ecosystem — is a result of increased consumerism. Access to information, personal empowerment, and a desire to be an active participant in health choices and outcomes have dramatically changed the once linear path to treatment. Traditional players can no longer abide by outmoded expectations and processes.

Curious what my grade school-aged nieces did that made me think about what our company’s future may look like? For a school project the girls dressed up to represent their future career choices. My youngest niece has her heart set on becoming a school teacher and she worked with her mom to create the ideal persona. Dressed as the picture-perfect dentist, my older niece was completely in character from the moment she put on her pristine white robe and placed toothbrushes inside the pockets. Although my nieces’ representations reflected their view of themselves in those professions as they exist today, I started wondering what those careers will actually evolve into by the time they enter the workforce — the seed that sprouted into this blog post.

Although predicting the future is an uncertain bet, I would encourage organizations across the retail supply chain to imagine what they may become. If you were asked what your future is going to look like, are you and your team ready to embrace it – dress the part — and begin to believe it feasible?

Dave Wendland is vice president strategic relations and co-owner of Hamacher Resource Group, a company focused on improving results across the retail supply chain located near Milwaukee, Wis. He directs business development, product innovation and marketing communications activities for the company and has been instrumental in positioning HRG among the industry’s foremost thought leaders. You may contact him at (414) 431-5301 or learn more at

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