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Lights, Camera, Action: How to master supply chain complexity

If your supply chain strategy is to fix it in post, you probably failed in planning or execution.

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This is an excerpt of the original article. It was written for the March-April 2022 edition of Supply Chain Management Review. The full article is available to current subscribers.

March-April 2022

Yesterday, I hosted a webinar on the steps supply chain leaders are taking to redesign their supply chains to cope with this period of unprecedented demand. Earlier last month, I attended the Manifest conference in Las Vegas. The exhibitors featured a lineup of supply chain startups while the attendee list was dominated by venture capital firms looking to get in on the action in our booming industry. This morning, one of the lead news stories is about another disruption threatening to bring global supply chains to a halt:
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Hollywood is big business, and the biggest business is in action and adventure. Forty-nine of the top 50 all-time box office hits are action-adventure films. Audiences worldwide, it seems, are willing to pay to see heroes like the Avengers, James Bond or Katniss Everdeen vanquish villains. Perhaps your critic’s eye spotted a parallel or two between movie-making and today’s supply chain universe.

  1. SCM is big business. Companies spent $1.56 trillion on logistics in 2020—in the United States alone.
  2. Like an action hero, your job is to protect your world from the chaos caused by a cast of supply chain villains. These include bottlenecks, glitches and risks. Your arch nemesis? Complexity. After all, it enables and exacerbates the others.
  3. Your company compensates you nicely as you save it from complexity’s chaos. Of course, your boss would prefer you do it without the end-game drama.

These aren’t, however, your most valuable takeaways from the comparison. A more critical screening reveals the key to conquering complexity. One all-time action hero, a top box-office draw, exemplifies the process—and value—of tackling complexity. His name is Jackie Chan. Jackie doesn’t minimize complexity; he masters it. Jackie exploits complexity to create awe. His goal: Elicit “oohs” and “aahs” as fans exclaim: “That’s so cool! How did he do that?”

Now, let’s make the case for why Jackie is the right action hero for supply chain professionals to emulate. You may, after all, be more familiar with Marvel’s Avengers. Marvel, however, is all about computer-generated imagery, or CGI. The Avengers’ on-screen power comes from the green screen, and let’s face it, you cannot CGI the supply chain. Perhaps you prefer Bond’s style—and gadgets. But again, that’s not your world. You can’t rely on tech to save the day when a supply chain glitch occurs. And you can’t just fix it in post. In a Jackie Chan movie, the action is real—just like yours. Jackie works with whatever is available, finding a way to make things work—just like you. Besides, Jackie isn’t a muscle-bound superhero. At 5’9” and 154 pounds, Jackie is relatable—a hard-working guy who must do extraordinary things. Jackie’s world is your world.

So, if you want to learn how to exploit complexity to enable competencies your rivals can’t touch, join us as we do a walk-through of a Jackie Chan production.

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Sorry, but your login has failed. Please recheck your login information and resubmit. If your subscription has expired, renew here.

From the March-April 2022 edition of Supply Chain Management Review.

March-April 2022

Yesterday, I hosted a webinar on the steps supply chain leaders are taking to redesign their supply chains to cope with this period of unprecedented demand. Earlier last month, I attended the Manifest conference in…
Browse this issue archive.
Access your online digital edition.
Download a PDF file of the March-April 2022 issue.

Hollywood is big business, and the biggest business is in action and adventure. Forty-nine of the top 50 all-time box office hits are action-adventure films. Audiences worldwide, it seems, are willing to pay to see heroes like the Avengers, James Bond or Katniss Everdeen vanquish villains. Perhaps your critic’s eye spotted a parallel or two between movie-making and today’s supply chain universe.

  1. SCM is big business. Companies spent $1.56 trillion on logistics in 2020—in the United States alone.
  2. Like an action hero, your job is to protect your world from the chaos caused by a cast of supply chain villains. These include bottlenecks, glitches and risks. Your arch nemesis? Complexity. After all, it enables and exacerbates the others.
  3. Your company compensates you nicely as you save it from complexity’s chaos. Of course, your boss would prefer you do it without the end-game drama.

These aren’t, however, your most valuable takeaways from the comparison. A more critical screening reveals the key to conquering complexity. One all-time action hero, a top box-office draw, exemplifies the process—and value—of tackling complexity. His name is Jackie Chan. Jackie doesn’t minimize complexity; he masters it. Jackie exploits complexity to create awe. His goal: Elicit “oohs” and “aahs” as fans exclaim: “That’s so cool! How did he do that?”

Now, let’s make the case for why Jackie is the right action hero for supply chain professionals to emulate. You may, after all, be more familiar with Marvel’s Avengers. Marvel, however, is all about computer-generated imagery, or CGI. The Avengers’ on-screen power comes from the green screen, and let’s face it, you cannot CGI the supply chain. Perhaps you prefer Bond’s style—and gadgets. But again, that’s not your world. You can’t rely on tech to save the day when a supply chain glitch occurs. And you can’t just fix it in post. In a Jackie Chan movie, the action is real—just like yours. Jackie works with whatever is available, finding a way to make things work—just like you. Besides, Jackie isn’t a muscle-bound superhero. At 5’9” and 154 pounds, Jackie is relatable—a hard-working guy who must do extraordinary things. Jackie’s world is your world.

So, if you want to learn how to exploit complexity to enable competencies your rivals can’t touch, join us as we do a walk-through of a Jackie Chan production.

SC
MR

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