So, How do We Fix the Problems We Created? Part II

As per yesterday’s post, we are the biggest supply chain risk. So, how do we become the biggest supply chain solution? By fixing the problems we created. Then the risks will be minimized, and so will the disruptions. Fortunately, the solutions are easy. Unfortunately, the decisions to implement them aren’t always easy from a business, or should I say, capitalistic, point of view. In the short-term, they can be expensive even though, done right, they pay off considerably (and often in multiples) in the long-term.

Today we will review the other seven problems we overviewed in our post on the biggest supply chain risk and illustrate how they can be solved.

Global Democratization
When you get right down to it, all methods of government have the potential for good as well as evil. A country will flourish under a great monarch and fade into darkness under a poor one. Socialism, implemented without corruption, can create a state of security and well being for all. Democracy only works when the will of the people is implemented by the representation. If the representation caves to lobbyists (and bribes), it’s not much better than a stifling dictatorship. The real issue is social and economic disparity. If great strides in these issues were made in the areas of greatest unrest, the unrest would considerably lessen and that could allow the government to evolve into the appropriate one in an organized, productive manner. (Or not. But it’s important to understand the reason for the unrest and solve the problem before trying to inject a miracle cure.)

Dependence on Information Technology
If you absolutely can’t live without a piece of technology, make sure you have backup systems in place ready to activate at the flip of a switch. Otherwise, it’s game over. And make sure that you have a backup power supply as well. If your data center is in a building on a grid serviced by only one power provider, and your “backup” is an industrial strength UPS that will last thirty minutes, or just enough time to shut all the systems down safely, and you need these systems 24/7, you better get a backup (diesel) generator and be prepared to produce your own power as long as necessary.

Government Financial Crises
Financial crises are avoided with sound financial decisions and policies. Who are often the best at analyzing the (potential) value of a financial decision? Talented, trained, and technologically equipped Supply Managers. We see the big picture, so it’s time to start advising the finance guys of the downstream decisions of their funding and purchasing policies. While this is not a complete solution, injecting more analytics, forward thinking, and common sense into the economy as a whole will go a long way!

Government Social Policies
When you dig in, this is one of the problems we’ve created that is hard to identify a solution for. Everyone has different ideas as to what services the government should provide and as to how to administer those services (so they are administered fairly). the doctor is not going to even attempt to define what a government should provide and how it should administer what it provides. This is one of the few problems that has no obvious solution.

Global Economic System Disruptions
Global economic crises and system disruptions are avoided with sound economic policies and frameworks. However, we rarely understand the full extent of the models we propose or how they will be applied (and manipulated) under real world conditions. There’s no easy answer to this except to say that we need to apply common sense, and if a model doesn’t seem to be working as expected, we need to pause, step back, analyze the data, determine the cause (and not just the correlation), admit our mistake, and try again.

Social Media Threats
The reason for this is the same reason for the push for global democratization — people are not content because of a (perceived) inequality that they feel is an injustice that has to be corrected. So they make threats and, sometimes, take action.

Global Mega Cities
If we stem population migration, we will minimize the need for additional global mega cities.

That’s it. We’re the biggest problem, but we know most of the solutions! Do we have the courage to do them? As Supply Managers, we determine who we buy power from, who we source from, where we source from, how we source, and what we value in our suppliers. We can directly influence the rate of climate change, globalization, and our ability to recover from information technology failures. We can indireclty influence social inequity, gender imbalance, population migration and, thus, also indirectly influence the push for democratization, social media threats, global mega cities, and the treatment of the aging population by adopting values and choosing partners that share those values, hire people in rural areas for jobs that don’t have to be urban, pay fairly, tolerate different people with different views, retain the wisdom of the elders, and push their peers to do the same.

There’s not much we can do directly or indirectly to prevent financial crises, social policies, and economic system disruptions — but we can use our skills to monitor the global market place and predict where, and when, they are most likely to occur and avoid sourcing from those regions at those times to insure the organiation is able to continue its operations uninterrupted. And as for the population explosion issue, that is a truly global problem.