Not leaders. Not managers. Not business executives. We have plenty of leaders, both real and wannabes. Managers and executives too; we have enough.
We need supply chain engineers.
The global supply chain is a present-day 21st-century reality. We get much of our goods from all over the world. We buy shoes from Europe to sell in America. We ship rice to Australia and import minerals in return. We travel to trade and we negotiate with our tablets and mobile phones.
E-commerce has expanded the reach of supply chains. We order and pay via the Internet. More and more enterprises deliver door-to-door, business-to-business, person-to-person. Transportation’s new normal is multi-modal: airplane-to-van, van-to-vessel, vessel-to-truck, truck-to-motorcycle. Ordinary people ferry food and merchandise to homes as much as courier companies deliver packages to businesses.
There is so much room for improvement that supply chain management has become a high-profile career choice. But this is not a promotional message for supply chain management; this is a call for action. Supply chains are facing challenging adversities and supply chain management, as is, is no longer capable to deal with them.
Supply chain engineering is the “application of scientific and mathematical principles” for the design and synchronization of highly complex supply chain operations. It is a field the world needs to synchronize supply chain operations and networks.
It’s not only because supply chains have so much room for improvement. It’s also because adversities have become too significant to ignore. The adversities, which some may classify as supply chain risks, are real.
Adversities in recent years have caused plenty of pain to supply chains. They’ve disrupted transport, caused shortages of critical raw materials, and brought widespread inefficiencies. As much as they’ve been manageable, the adversities are not getting any fewer. In fact, they’re getting more disruptive and threatening. To an extent, they can shut down supply chains and cause not only economic failure but also society chaos. The most prominent example of this is the COVID19 virus pandemic.
Just as we need doctors to deal with disease, we need engineers to deal with supply chain disruption. Management as a profession and talent is no longer enough because management is only about planning, organising, directing, and controlling. We need engineering, that is, we need to have people with skills to design and install systems, networks, and methods to synchronize and integrate the various supply chain operations and make them adversity-resistant.
We need problem solvers that can define problems before they happen. Anticipating adversity and mitigating it, if not overcoming it, are the key tasks of the supply chain engineer.
Where can we find supply chain engineers?