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Supply Chain Summer Reading List

For Your Supply Chain Summer Reading List: A thriller, a graphic novel, and a “How-To” book

It’s tempting, as you head out on vacation this summer, to leave the laptop at home and turn your attention to the best-selling mystery novel you picked up at the airport while waiting for your delayed flight to finally board.  But there’s an argument to be made for filling your suitcase with books that explore—and offer thought-provoking remedies to—the critical mysteries that you wrangle with every day: How to keep your supply chain moving in the face of natural and man-made disasters. How to create and manage a product development process that maximizes profitability and remains resilient regardless of market forces. How to forecast new challenges and turn them into opportunities before they wreak havoc with your business. How to infuse the spirit of innovation, experimentation, and constant questioning throughout your company, using crises to spur growth.

Not the relaxing read you were looking for? On the contrary, we would submit that the following collection of books may well provide not only solace in this challenging time but bring you back to work both reenergized and recommitted.

In Ian Bremmer’s new book, The Power of Crisis, this renowned political scientist explores the paralysis that many business leaders have felt when confronting recent global health emergencies, climate change, and even artificial intelligence, especially when consensus on actions to take has become so difficult to reach. But, through a careful look at both historic and current strategies, he’s able to demonstrate that “governments, corporations, and every concerned citizen … can use these coming crises to create … worldwide prosperity and opportunity.”

MIT professor and serial entrepreneur Yossi Sheffi, who spoke to Dynamic in a recent edition of Value Chain, provides similar evidence in The Resilent Enterprise. Building on his 2016 volume, The Power of Resilience, Sheffi uses real-world case studies from such companies as Nokia, Dell, UPS, Apple, and Toyota to show how the flexibility—and resilience—these companies have built into their supply chains have allowed them, despite the volatile marketplace in which they operate, to balance security, redundancy, and short-term profits, reducing risk and achieving competitive advantage.

In Transforming Supply Chains, Sydney-based supply chain thought leaders John Gattorna and Deborah Ellis take a similar stance, showing how companies can successfully incorporate geopolitics, climate change, social media, and fragmenting consumer behavior into both their supply chain design and their daily operations. Toward that same end, Risk—and Your Supply Chain, by supply chain and procurement leaders Omer Abdullah and Subash Chandar, reexamines standard approaches to crisis and risk management and concludes that business leaders can not only safeguard against current crises, but prepare for those yet to come.

The mindset necessary to take this approach, argues supply chain consultant Nicolas Vandeput in Data Science for Supply Chain Forecasting, is rooted in such scientific method principles as experimentation, observation, and constant questioning. Product management veteran Matthew Fitzgerald applies this approach to product lifecycle management in Trees Don’t Grow to the Sky, warning, in the words of the German proverb from which he took his book’s title, against straight-line thinking, pointing out that “the product, the customer, the market will not continue to grow simply because they have always grown in the past.”

Still too heavy for the beach? Then consider illustrator Dean Motter’s recent graphic interpretation of the late management guru Eliyahu M. Goldratt’s 1984 best-selling business novel, The Goal, which tells the story of a harried plant manager who saves his factory after a former professor introduces him to the Theory of Constraints. Or Devil in the Chain, billed as “a supply chain management business thriller.” In business turnaround expert James Amoah’s story, a family uses the principles of supply chain management to lead their chocolate business from likely failure to success.

Inspired? Then start putting together your Christmas gift list today. One suggestion: Sustainable Procurement, due out in December, purchasing authority Jonathan O’Brien’s argument that savvy management of supply chains is intricately tied to the quest for sustainability.

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