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Category Archives: Supply Chain Strategy

How to manage effectively in the face of risk

With globalization comes increased risk and uncertainty in nations, environments, communities, and businesses. As growing complexity makes it more difficult to determine the source of risk in these complex systems, it also reveals the interdependent nature of risk within a greater ecosystem. New studies show the best way to manage an organization in the face of risk is to build resiliency—the ability to withstand, recover from, and maintain function through a crisis.  But in order to manage risk effectively, resiliency must be built into the entire interrelated system of an organization.

In the MIT Sloan research paper, “Uncertainty and Risk in Global Supply Chains,” MIT Sloan Professor Donald Lessard states that “risk management requires systematic management of risks that are generated within each link in the chain and, more importantly, in the interfaces among links in order to limit disruptions and their propagation throughout the system.” Effective management of risk, therefore, requires a systems thinking approach—understanding how systems influence one another within a whole.

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Mapping risk with the beer game

As MIT Sloan Professor John Sterman told MIT Technology Review, “there’s no actual beer in the Beer Game.” Instead, it’s an exercise for MIT Sloan students that simulates the supply chain of the beer industry. The roles include retailer, wholesaler, distributor, and brewer; the goal is to make operating costs as low as possible.

The Beer Game demonstrates the fluctuations of inventories and backlogs and how they impact the bottom line. In the real world of the “beer game”—that of the craft beer industry—the stakes are very high. And, one wonders if they’d benefit from mapping their own risk by playing MIT’s Beer Game.

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Does the return of manufacturing to the U.S. mean more jobs?

The return of manufacturing to the U.S., also referred to as the “repatriation” or “re-shoring” by American and non-American companies alike, on the surface sounds like good news for employment. However, this is not necessarily the case.

Although manufacturing output over the last 60 years has grown roughly by 3.7% annually, employment has stayed mostly flat during this time. Why does this continue to be true, even as many companies have been moving manufacturing back to the U.S. since 2010?

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