Last week a former client — I had not heard from him in over three years — called me in a (typically) titanic rage.
With expletives deleted, he said something similar to: “@$%& can they be serious about supply chain security without involving me? And @##$%! is this about increased redundancy, do they have any ##$%^ idea how much that could cost?” And so on.
“Surprised to hear from you Gary,” I replied (not his real name). “Been a long time.”
One of the reasons I retired was bombastic, reality-distorting, self-serving, narrow-minded, tactically-driven, context-challenged so-called leaders like Gary. When an American business implodes, it’s usually got more than one Gary scattered among its executive ranks. They are a minority, but sadly very active.
Since he evidently reads this blog, I guess that bridge has been effectively burned and pushed into the chasm for better or worse.
Considerably more frustrating was an email received yesterday. A national organization closely related to the supply chain industry had just completed a meeting of its government affairs committee. At the meeting they reviewed the new National Strategy for Global Supply Chain Security. The note distributed indicates they will take “a wait and see position until they can determine whether this is in fact a priority initiative for the Administration.”
Eleven months ago the squishy soft underbelly of the global supply chain was nakedly exposed by a hard-hit to an economically peripheral area of Japan. In the fourth quarter of 2011 the same sort of expensive embarrassment was produced by Thai flooding. These events seriously affected the bottom-lines of some top global brands. Billions of dollars in value and productivity evaporated. Other examples could be offered, fortunately none — yet — involving crucial agricultural, industrial or financial keystones.
In the context of these real-world challenges the President personally signs-out a new National Strategy. He sends a cabinet secretary to the World Economic Forum to unveil the new strategy. He orders follow-on work to be done.
Many are arguing this is a top-tier national security concern. The President sets out a fairly narrow time-frame in which to come back with an implementation plan.
To which at least some in private sector respond with, “Well, let’s wait and see”. I almost feel the need to join my former client in yelling !@#$%?
The United States has the most advanced domestic supply chain in the world. It is fundamental to our economic competitiveness and our way of life. We are a key player in a global supply chain that is increasingly complex and on which we more and more depend. This is a national priority. It is also — mostly — a private sector responsibility.
The National Strategy is explicit regarding its goal to “engage government, private sector, and international stakeholders. The purpose of this engagement is to seek specific recommendations to inform and guide our collaborative implementation of the Strategy.”
The President of the United States is asking for your help. He is giving the supply chain community the opportunity to get ahead of this problem and shape the solution-space. This is a fantastic moment for a good dose of enlightened self-interest.
Gary is a bomb-thrower, but at least he wants to be involved. I hope some of his more constructive peers accept the invitation.