As we kick off our new series “The Resilient Supply Chain”, we are thinking about all the aspects of resiliency. It is overwhelming as to the volatility of almost every aspect of the end-to-end supply chain. Just in the last month, there have been many events/ factors that have created disruption:
- U.S. and Mexico reaching a trade agreement
- U.S. and Canada still at an impasse with respect to trade negotiations
- U.S. and China still imposing tariffs on each other
- Ford cancelled plans to produce a small car in China based on these tariffs.
- Fires have and are plaguing California – the worst in history
- The Big Island in Hawaii is just starting to pick up the pieces after the volcano
- We’ve heard about severe impacts on the businesses and customers in that areAnd earlier this week, although not serious (thank goodness), there was an earthquake in the next town over from our office
The Resilient Supply Chain
Instead of panicking as each of these events or disruptors occur, creating a resilient supply chain can provide a proactive approach to this current state market condition. One of critical aspects of taking a proactive approach instead of a reactive one is to think about whether you are able to be resilient in your decision making.
Here are some considerations:
- People – Good decisions stem from good people. Thus, it always makes sense to start there. Do you have people in leadership positions and other key roles that you would want to make decisions in your absence? (Just this past week, a potential client was killed by a drunk driver while he was on a motorcycle. We would certainly rather be prepared for winning the lottery but the question remains: Are your people ready to make decisions?)
- Data – Although good people can make up for a lot, you also need the “right” information and relevant background to make key decisions. Do your systems allow you to retrieve meaningful data for decision making? Every single ERP selection client prioritizes business intelligence/dashboard reporting tools as high on their list of priorities for good reason!
- Input – Although this can be considered part of people and data, it’s worth calling out on its own. Do you gain input from trusted sources (colleagues, customers, suppliers, trade association colleagues, industry groups and more)? Recently, our APICS-IE instructors had an issue arise with updated learning materials – in essence, they were not set up for learning to occur. Clearly a BIG issue for an education and value-focused organization! Fortunately, after 3 or 4 calls, we had several ideas on how to dramatically improve the process and overcome the obstacle. In another example that occurred recently for a client project, we had a significant challenge in explaining a complex concept that was critical to success. If we didn’t get past that barrier, results would NOT follow. It took 5 or 6 calls with excellent input from all as well as testing out ideas before we came up with the ideal way to convey the concept, and it “worked”!
- Speed – Slow decision making is worse than no decision making. In today’s Amazonian marketplace, your customers will be LONG gone if you are slow to make decisions. I’ve noticed that I am a LOT less tolerant of slow responsiveness even in my own business (and for things I would have been fine with a year ago). I have to be to remain viable, and so do you! Thus, as it relates to having the ‘right’ people with the ‘right’ data and ‘right’ input, you must also have them at the ‘right’ time.
Have you put thought into your decision-making process before decisions must occur? Ponder these critical elements, put them in place and you’ll be prepared to successfully navigate the volatility of today’s business decisions.