Working in Supply Chain is hard, and never boring. Challenges of every kind from every direction can appear without notice, disrupting the days planned activities.
Disasters, shortages, quality issues, system failures, process breakdowns, delivery delays, weather, demand changes, financial pressures, lack of cash, customer losses, supplier failures, workforce shortages and defections, competitive pressures and more all make every day interesting, to say the least, in Supply Chain.
How do Supply Chain professionals deal with all of these unplanned, yet unrelenting, fires? And how do they do it while keeping calm under pressure? In fact, how do they do it while thriving under the adrenaline rush?
They use a unique set of Supply Chain Superpowers!
Supply Chain is such a broad field that it is really the engine that makes most companies run. Its scope runs the full range of a company’s activities including strategic planning, design and development, finance, procurement, supply-demand management, order management and customer services, manufacturing, distribution, warehousing, logistics, reverse logistics, and on and on.
Given this vast expanse of responsibility and accountability it is reasonable to expect that Supply Chain professionals have developed a complement of unique capabilities.
In their entirety these skills make the work that these people do extraordinary. They are heroes. And these skills are used so expertly and adroitly, and often so subtly, that others take these demonstrated superpowers as normal, and sometimes for granted.
Here is our list of the Supply Chain Superpowers that are exercised by someone, somewhere, every minute of every day:
1. Seeing around corners and in the dark
There is always a problem of some kind lurking just around the corner. Supply Chain leaders know that these issues are inevitable and they take measures to either prevent, or rapidly deal with, these issues which are often unforeseen by anyone else.
And these issues come from every corner and behind every door … from company executives and stakeholders, from competitors, from customers, from partners and service providers. Supply Chain leaders can see through these shadows.
2. Elasticity and Flexibility and Shape Shifting
Just like Mister Fantastic of the Fantastic Four, Supply Chain employees must be able to stretch, bend and contort their minds and their efforts to suit any particular situation that they are presented with.
The level of flexibility required is both necessary and sufficient to allow Supply Chain to deal with anything that is thrown at them.
3. Juggling Mastery and Multi-Tasking
Supply Chain always has a lot of balls in the air. Strategic challenges, tactical problems, immediate issues, competitive headwinds, customer demands, supplier relationship management and numerous metrics all must be juggled at the same time. And Supply Chain can’t afford to drop any of these balls.
4. Walking on, or Treading, Water
It is often said in Supply Chain circles that just keeping your head above water is success. There are so many pressures, and so many challenges coming at you from every direction, that just surviving is considered positive.
But more than just treading water, Supply Chain professionals manage all of their responsibilities with such poise that those outside the profession have no real conception as to how difficult these jobs are. Supply Chain actually does walk on water every day.
5. Performing Magic
As has been proven during the global Coronavirus pandemic, every company experiences material shortages and logistics challenges and more. In these situations it is up to Supply Chain to resolve these shortages and solve these delivery issues and delays.
Where others see no solution to fixing these problems, great Supply Chain leaders are able to creatively and intuitively make materials appear, leveraging all of their skills of negotiation, networking and creativity.
6. Extraordinary Body Armour
Supply Chain professionals develop an incredible level of body armour, or thick skin, over time. They are able to withstand a phenomenal amount of heat and pressure. They are able to take bullets and absorb the shock.
And when the attacks are done they dust themselves off and get on with doing the job at hand.
7. Extra-Sensory Perception, or ESP
Extra-sensory perception is a sixth sense, sometimes referred to as clairvoyance or telepathy or mind reading. Supply Chain individuals are often able to foresee and anticipate events in advance of their occurrence, well beyond the ability of others.
With such a vast scope of responsibility and experience, various dynamics and signals can trigger Supply Chain to take action in advance of what others perceive is necessary.
8. Time Travel
Supply Chain professionals are able to go back in time or into the future. They can go back and review how and why things were done. They can also simulate how past circumstances would change, and how future outcomes would occur, through modelling and using predictive analytics.
This ability allows Supply Chain to test out various scenarios enabling them to take actions which will optimize future outcomes.
Supply Chain Superpowers are real.
And Supply Chain professionals are so good at employing these powers that others not only do not truly understand these capabilities, but they don’t appreciate them because Supply Chain makes it look easy.
The wealth of opportunities for personal and professional development in Supply Chain is unique and extraordinary. And over time anyone in the profession will likewise develop these skills.
The reward for those in the profession is both their personal growth and their professional contribution. The reward for those who get to see Supply Chain in action is that they get to witness great things being done every day.
And those great things can only be accomplished through the application of these incredible Supply Chain Superpowers!
Given that Supply Chain’s Moment of Truth has arrived, we need these heroes now more than ever.