Volume 18 Number 8 - August 4, 2020


Business strategy, supply chain strategy, and mission, vision and core values are inextricably linked. Any leader of a manufacturing company who didn’t realize that before March of 2020 has certainly experienced the reality since. Supply chain management (SCM) finally reached the board meeting agenda. Sadly it’s because of sudden and major shifts in supply and demand of a wide swath of goods and services that most operations were not prepared to handle.

While no strategy could have prepared your business for many of the immediate impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic, and a new or modified strategy is required for each of your businesses, an effective operations strategy could have limited the upheaval. As you work through the current challenges, many lessons are there for the taking.

Now that these front-page fumbles have your attention, there is no better time (other than before all this happened) to increase understanding of the strategic role operations and SCM play in the world economy, your industry, and most immediately, in your business.

What many manufacturers around the world have learned is that they can change quickly from making widgets to making thingamajigs .  They learned the importance of knowing the financial stability of the entire supply chain, from the customers’ customers to the suppliers’ suppliers. They know that someone 3 levels down on the Bill of Material can shut them down just as surely as if it were their own operations. They know that “partners” will unilaterally extend payment terms to 3%/60 Net 180.

The missed opportunity was manufacturers having a crisis response plan in place. No, you couldn’t predict this crisis, but you could have mapped your entire supply chain (customers’ customers to suppliers’ suppliers), known geography and financial stability along the way, and had partner agreements that included “pull cord in case of emergency” diversion to other locations or companies.

As this crisis unfolded you would have more quickly and successfully taken action. Yes, it would have required investment up front, but any strategy without a genuine risk assessment and crisis plan is a start with the likelihood to not finish. After all, crises seem to happen about every 10 years, so we can’t be too surprised.

If you would like help developing internal strategic thinking, operational capabilities, or a complete operations strategy, let me know. I am happy to invest time in understanding your position, mission and vision, and capabilities. Together we can position you for success beyond the next calamity.

The Starting Pistol

Publilius Syrus:
"Fate is not satisfied with inflicting one calamity."

The Tape

Rebecca Morgan:
"and we can be prepared for most of them, if we invest in thinking and anticipation."

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