Supply chain risk. It’s a topic that just never seems to go away (nor should it!). Everyone and their uncle has probably read at least one article, blog, research report, etc. on the topic. We’ve covered it here extensively on the 21st Century Supply Chain blog, and Kinaxis has even produced a great infographic about it. There’s no denying it’s a very important subject when it comes to good supply chain management.
Recently however, I’ve been thinking about supply chain risk in a whole other light. Thanks mostly to a fabulous guest post by MIT’s Yossi Sheffi on the Wall Street Journal, which I had the good fortune to stumble across. In it, Sheffi talks about the concept of a ‘black swan’, no not the risk of slightly unstable ballerinas invading your supply chain, but rather a term popularized in 2007 by Nassim Taleb that’s used to describe occurrences that are thought to be impossible.
At first blush, it all sounds a bit familiar. Make sure you prepare for the unexpected. Got it. We’ve long been proponents of making sure your supply chain risk management strategy targets three key areas: anticipated risk, uncontrolled anticipated risk, and unanticipated risk. Surely this concept of a black swan fits squarely into the third category, which is characterized by an event that is entirely out of our control and hard to anticipate and plan for. And it does.