SC advise for Hell and Hand Basket

Perhaps some of may have noticed that the political environment is getting a bit of chaotic out there, hell and hand basket type space.  Those us in Supply Change and Logistics make our living trying to organize chaos in a multi-party environment. Preparing for this type of stuff, even has a name Supply Chain Risk.  So what advise those the supply chain offer the present political system in dealing with chaos?

Supply Chain/Logistics organization have little control of disastrous weather, politicial decisions, new technology and surprise customer decisions that show up in their world.  The political environment is in a surprise period too and people struggling on how to deal with it.

First, I will discuss about handling these surprises in the Supply Chain. Second, there will be apart about preparing for unknown unknowns.

When the unexpected happens, most supply chains will gather people from as many expertise they can get, both inside and outside of the organization, to develop an action plan to resolve the immediate issue. We will call these groups emergency teams. Why do they bother with this bureaucracy rather than have a boss just make edict on high?  (Although it usually the boss he arranges these meetings.)  Any response that does not consider those who are affected by the decisions will be sub-optimal at best and may make the situation even worst.  In the political process, a multi-interest coalition will likely make better decisions and have more clout than one interest group going at it alone.

In the Supply Chain these emergency teams need to establish objectives and ways to measure success. Communication of issues and successes is strong key to success of the efforts, once success is defined. In the political system, people are looking for ideas and actions that make sense, so communication is a key there also.

And when the crisis is ended, the supply chain emergency team work is not over. There will need to be follow up to see what they can learn and prepare for the next unexpected events. Once you go through ones of these the unknown unknowns, the concept becomes a lot more real. For instance, automobile manufactures were hurt badly by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan leading to long and expensive plant closures.  Now many of them have plans re-start programs when a major supplier is lost. There is a term for this type of planning which is Supply Chain Risk with the idea that initiates planning for unexpected events which  might be helpful when an emergency committee responses to a new issue.

The political system because it is so large and many times unorganized has trouble learning lessons and preparing, but perhaps that should be part of the political plan process also. Just reacting usually puts one behind the eight ball.

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