Turning supply chain disruption on its head

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Supply chain practitioners are among the many unsung heroes of the pandemic — thanks to their efforts that kept the world moving during uncertain times. While the global health impacts of the pandemic have started to stabilize, the supply chain disruptions that came from COVID haven’t slowed down, causing executives in board rooms around the world to ask supply chain leaders: “How are you going to make sure this doesn’t happen to us again?”

To answer this question, supply chain innovator Angel Mendez joins Kinaxis Chief Strategy Officer Dr. Anne Robinson as a cohost in a new series of our Big Ideas in Supply Chain podcast.  

In this episode, Angel and Anne share their thoughts on preparing for disruption by using the lessons learned during an unprecedented time to plan for the next challenge. They also talk about the supply chain renaissance and how to build innovative ideas that can solve for the uncertainties of the future.

Here are some key takeaways from their discussion.

Taking advantage of opportunities during crisis and disruption

Supply chain leaders are at a pivotal moment in history as they emerge from the pandemic and try to strategize for the next disruption. So, what can they do to make sure the disruption felt during COVID doesn’t happen again?

“That’s a huge question and an unfair one,” according to Angel, “because the world is tough and supply chain officers knew that even before COVID, the frequency of big catastrophic events had been rising around the world. We’re sitting still in a post-COVID world that’s uncertain.”

He believes that the question of how to avoid disruption should instead shift to solving the need for technological investment in supply chain, so practitioners can continue to drive resilience while preparing for a future of uncertainty. As a result, we can achieve this by embracing the disruption we endured over the past few years and turning it on its head.

“I think it’s critical to codify and collect the lessons from that period in time before they get lost in the return to tactics. I think every single supply chain officer that I work with […] did extraordinary things and learned a lot that transformed them and transformed their companies,” says Angel.

Preparing for uncertainty  

Fortunately, people in supply chain recognize that there are lessons to be learned from their experiences, and from others who are willing to share. So how can we transform these lessons into tangible results?

Angel states that focusing on building innovation that is consistent with driving resilience and performance should be a part of the answer.

While a new wave of supply chain innovation began in the 2010s due to the explosion of cloud services and the ability for supply chain functions to be API driven, the rise of digital transformation came to a standstill during the pandemic. As we leave this period, the need for innovation has become more pronounced than ever, especially when it comes to solving for uncertainty.  

For organizations looking to take advantage of innovative efforts while making sure they’re operational and applicable, Angel suggests installing a formal innovation team within your company. “There's a world of change out there that presents opportunity. The question is, and this is about turning it on its head, how does an organization, any large company take advantage of that? […] I would install a formal innovation team. We've heard other chief supply chain officers doing that. […] But any officer listening to this should be thinking, how do I interpret it all? Renaissance sold that opportunity into an agenda for my organization. It's never been richer from a technology point of view or from a time to capability.”

To hear more about turning disruption on its head from Angel and Anne, watch the full video podcast here:

Portraits of Angel Mendez and Dr. Anne Robinson are next to a title reading, "Turning supply chain disruption on its head" and a button prompting users to "Watch now."

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