Supply Chain Unknowns

Here is the famous quote from Donald Rumsfeld, then Secretary of Defense on February 12, 2002. Read it. Does not seem like your current job description these days:

Donald Rumsfeld

“There are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

Welcome to the Covid 19 pandemic. He was laughed at because syntax of the words in 2002. Now all of us are living this phrase, at work and at home.

So what is in our bag to deal with the known, the known unknows and the surprise unknowns which are hitting us.

Remember Supply Chain is a team sport. Yes we may be physically distancing from each other, but we can “zoom” in with people on our team, who might be able to see things we cannot. They might have experience doing things we have not done. And when something happens their minds working with your mind will make the best of the situation.

Your old, grumpy and outdated technology probably has data that you can use to determine where the heck you are in this process. What did ship to your customers in May 2019 and how does that compare to May 2020? What does your data imply? Your data may stimulate your imagination if you let it.

Maybe your data tells you your known unknowns. If there was data on this subject, the company could better serve the market and be more efficient. You may not be able to afford new technology now, but even in a pandemic the future is not permanently cancelled.

There are conferences, meeting, and periodicals, now mostly virtual, which might have clues about the unknowns and how to deal with them. I found sifting for gold in these is difficult. All it takes is one good idea, among the many ideas advocated to make the time in the search worthwhile.

Those of us who managed to survive our late teenage years, generally learn that our knowledge and skills are finite. That is not limitation. It is really opportunity to connect with the world and learn and be able to execute our work better. Being in the supply chain in team environment gives opportunities to grow and thrive others may not be so fortune to have.

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