Seizing Opportunity and Addressing Adversity via Supply Chain Engineering

We should not focus just on adversity.  We should also focus on opportunity.  We tend to point to adversity when there’s disruption.  But as much as there is adversity behind every disruption, there is also opportunity. 

          This should be common business sense but it can be difficult to accept when there’s a raging disruption going on; something like a pandemic, for example.           

          It’s supply chains that often feel the highest impact when there’s a disruption.  This is because supply chains are made up of vast interconnections within and between enterprises. 

          We blame all sorts of adversities for disruptions.  Adversities can be natural like typhoons and tsunamis or they can be man-made like sudden price increases or an entrepreneur that introduces a new e-commerce app that challenges a traditional corporation’s business. 

          Disruptions, however, are also a result of opportunity.  When an enterprise seizes an opportunity, it means more often than not disrupting its normal way of doing business to make way for a new idea.   

          In the early 1990’s, a company that used to deliver telegrams (i.e. short typed messages) decided to overhaul its operations and sell mobile phones.  Today, Globe Telecom is one of the world’s leading telecommunications firms.   

          Netflix started as an online DVD (digital video-disc) rental company in 1997 and has transformed itself into a video entertainment streaming service and movie-production behemoth.  Netflix caused disruption in the video rental service industry and is causing disruption to the traditional film-making industry.  At the same time, Netflix disrupts its own enterprise by constantly changing its business model.

          Disruptions are the new normal, especially for supply chains.  And since just about every enterprise depends on supply chains, there has never been a greater need for Supply Chain Engineering

          Supply Chain Engineering is about building supply chains with the purpose of boosting productivity and adding versatility so enterprises can not only be competitive but also have the ability to transform. 

          Supply Chain Engineering is Industrial Engineering redefined.  It isn’t scientific management.  It is engineering as it stresses the design and setting up of supply chain systems and structures. 

          Supply Chain Engineering takes into account both adversity and opportunity.  This is because as an engineering discipline, it focuses on putting up systems and structures that will support enterprise strategy.  Engineers construct facilities and install equipment for enterprises to make available their products and services.  In the same way, Supply Chain Engineers (SCEs) bring into reality supply chain systems and structures so enterprises can procure materials and deliver products and services to customers. 

          SCEs are challenged to develop supply chains into ones which will have the capability to change whether in response to adversity or to be ready when enterprises remodel themselves. 

           Disruption is the common denominator of adversity and opportunity.  We tend to sometimes get too preoccupied with adversities such that we pass up opportunities.  Our enterprises should be ready for both.  And the best path to do to do is via Supply Chain Engineering. 

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