3 Roadblocks to Supply Chain Resilience (And How to Get Past Them)
- Many companies have been unable to build resilience due to organizational silos and lack of supply chain collaboration
- They also tend to limit the scope of building resilience to within the organization
- Supply chain leaders need to lead the initiative in enabling mindset change within the organization
Picture this. A meeting between a company’s C-level executives and its supply chain leaders. Their agenda: how should the company build resilience and ensure that there are no supply-related disruptions in the future. The meeting runs for a long time and different ideas are discussed.
But here’s what happens next.
As soon as the executives return to their desks, their attention is taken up with daily work challenges and deadlines. The ideas from the meeting are pushed off to another meeting. Chances are, they may never be implemented.
So, what are the factors hindering the implementation of resilience within businesses and what should supply chain leaders do to usher in change?
The three roadblocks on the road to resilience
It’s not just the supply chain
The first hindrance is the tendency to think of resilience as just a supply chain problem, says Mike Jette, Vice President of Consulting at GEP in a recent podcast interview with Bow Bowman, Editor-in-Chief of SupplyChainBrain.
“Obviously, supply chain is going to be taking the lead on those issues. But it cannot be done by supply chain alone. This involves sales, this involves product design, the entirety of an organization. So, some organizations are slow to recognize that it is really kind of a mobilization of all functions,” Jette says in the podcast titled How to Stop Talking About Resilience — and Do Something About it.
Limiting it to within the organization
The second hindrance to building resilience is the uncertainty of its application. Is this something that can be achieved within the enterprise? In many cases, the focus area is how a business works with its trading partners. In this sense, the scope of resilience extends beyond the enterprise. Many organizations have failed to recognize this aspect and believe they can build resilience within their enterprise.
Some companies are finding it difficult to identify the real challenges they face in building resilience. While they recognize they have challenges, they do not exactly know where the major breakage is within their organization and within their value chain, says Jette.
Low level of collaboration
The third hindrance is the lack of collaboration between different stakeholders within the supply chain. In some cases, supply chain professionals hesitate to collaborate with each other. “Often, collaboration is used to push responsibility onto the less powerful trading partner and make that trading partner responsible for mistakes that happen in the supply chain,” says Jette.
The one way to get past these roadblocks
For an organization to walk the talk and truly implement resilience, the leadership’s mindset must change.
“Of all the things that need to change in terms of leadership mindset is that resilience is a muscle that we need to develop, but continuously exercise,” says Jette.
He believes supply chain professionals have an important role in helping to create that mindset shift. Instead of focusing on the cost of building resilience, Jette advises supply chain professionals to engage in scenario-based discussion with the leadership.
Scenario 1: No or low disruption.
Scenario 2: Maximum disruption like what happened during COVID-19 in 2020.
Scenario 3: Unexpected disruption.
Leaders should then examine their supply chain as it is now and what it would look like in each of these scenarios and ask themselves: ‘Are we really resilient?’