Preparing For the Unknown

On Tuesday, September 22, 2020 I watched a webcast of an educational session at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) annual conference entitled: “Strengthening the Supply Chain: Pandemics, Hurricanes and Your Business”

Back in 2019, nobody was predicting a world pandemic in 2020. So, yes, that was not in your or anybody’s budget. Governments have not planned to devote resources to this. Plans were not made. The federal government actually disbanded one of units which deals with pandemics, because why waste money on something that was not going to happen.

So when the pandemic happened, there was little or no forethought on how to respond to totally unexpected event, most everybody ended just did an unplanned reaction. The presentation told about some government bodies who were had a planned crisis procedure while others were clueless.

The message of the educational session, you cannot plan for the unknown but you can be prepared. By preparing you can figure who needs to brought to together to respond to the event. In events like these, your computer data will not be available. So they suggested looking for “sentinels” of information, such as your employees who know what has happened in the past . Shipping clerks, customer service people, sales and finance will have that computer data in their heads. In a time of crisis, perfect information is not needed, but whatever good information you can get is always useful.

Many organizations have a crisis committee in place, for just such an occurrence as Covid 19. An inventory of the organization’s resources is useful in a dramatic and probably a black out period, where normal resources are not available.

It is possible to prepare for the “unknown unknowns” when they hit. You will be way ahead of the game is you prepare. Some crisis are limited to a just a small geographic area or a maybe just one plant. But preparing for these will be useful in a worldwide crisis like Covid 19.

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