World Cup and the supply chain: a comparison

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Would you ever think of comparing the World Cup to the supply chain? What analogies can be made?

  • Both are filled with unplanned events. Italy out? England out? That was not in the plan. There will always be surprises no matter how much you plan. However, the challenge of unplanned events in the supply chain is that you have to make course correction very quickly. If you miss the finals in the World Cup, you have another 4 years before you need to execute an improved outcome.
  • Not meeting expectations has a significant financial impact. Businesses disappoint shareholders and affect stock price and risk market share erosion. Soccer teams affect their economies. Italy’s early exit is estimated to cost their economy $177Million US , just in the restaurant/bar business.
  • Time to market can be short. Think of the businesses that are waiting for the World Cup winner and want to have their products on the market first.
  • Communication and collaboration is critical to succeed. While soccer is on and off the field : supply chain is often across continents.
  • Both need to strategize scenarios. In soccer, the team evaluates the potential outcome of different plays. In supply chain, you need to evaluate the impact of demand, supply or new product introduction scenarios.
  • Provided with the right tools to do their job, every team member will be empowered to do their best, strengthening the team.
  • In order to excel, you need to have a vision. Your vision needs to place you ahead of your competition. Don’t listen to those around you that make excuses as to why the vision cannot be executed. Just ask Cisco or Apple. There are reasons why they are leaders in supply chain. As to the winner in the World Cup?? We will have to wait and see.

Do you have any analogies to share? What is your prediction for the World Cup ?


Lorcan Sheehan
- June 29, 2010 at 7:19pm
Hi Carol

I enjoyed the post. For those with an interest in World Cup economic trivia, Goldman Sachs publish an excellent book on the subject ( It is the 4th in the series and is proof, as if it was needed, that some economists have too much time on their hands.

Like yourselves we have taken our own light hearted view of the supply chain implications of the World Cup at Enjoy the rest of the games.

Francini Ortiz
- July 02, 2010 at 2:00pm
Devastating loss for Brazil today....can't believe it!
In World Cup luck is a strong component that can make it or break it. At this point, the team that needs the least amount of luck, I think, is Argentina.

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