What went wrong?

What went wrong?

How could so many intelligent, educated, informed professionals in industry and government get the demand for, and the procurement of, PPE (personal protection equipment), so very wrong?

As the saying goes, ‘you cannot point a finger to blame someone (or something), because there are three more fingers pointing back at you’. 

Moving forward, will blaming something, somebody, an industry, or a government, will not correct why the system broke down? What we need is to ask ourselves, our teams, our organizations, and our governments are some tough and honest questions. Shifting blame or ignoring what was missed will not create the necessary changes to prepare for another shock to our lives.  We cannot expect others to make the corrections.  The questions and the future are not simply focusing on the PPEs, but the entirety of our past decisions. 

The first task is to identify the ‘core issue’.  Not discuss what is occurring, but why, amid the chaos, many – most – were not even partially prepared for how difficult, almost impossible, to procure those items that are vital to the survival of our essential workers: Truck Drivers, Warehouse and Manufacturing personnel, Store Clerks, Food Process workers, Delivery Drivers, Hospital and Care facility support staff, Paramedics, Fire and Police, Nurses and Doctors.  Is the lack of, and the difficulty in, procuring PPE the core issue? Or is it a symptom? What about the food supply, the goods we expect to always be there, the services we take for granted?

Though we can all hope that we will not face another pandemic like the COVID-19, we can be assured that we will face other catastrophic incidents that will have a critical impact on our lives.  The next disaster may not all be global, but individually, as professionals in our organizations, and personally in our homes, we need to stop expecting others to take care of everything and learn how we can adapt and survive for whatever knocks on each of our doors.

What needs to be the number one focus and attention for everyone is to identify their core issue. The issues around the PPEs or capital or having to close is NOT the core issue.  Why didn’t we have PPEs; why did we not have the capital to purchase PPE; why do we not have the capital to sustain our organizations through a crisis; why did we not have the plan for the worst and preparation for the best?  These are questions that demand we go past the current/immediate circumstance and identify what, at the core, was not addressed, planned, and prepared for when we, our organization and civic leaders prepared their strategic plans.

Having a strategic plan is not just for large organizations, start-ups to get funding, or something that gets lip service at an annual company/government retreat.

The success of your supply chain will only be as strong as your plan.

When you stop and look around and prepare, can you answer these simple questions?

Do we fund our future to be prepared for a catastrophe?  Do we simply operate based on debt management?  Can we access capital immediately to cover the cost of critical goods or do we need to find more lenders?  Will the lenders even be available? Do we have the capital to support the organization, our home, if we are unable to generate any revenue – and will not receive any financial support from outside sources like the government – for 6-months? Can we survive and cover any-and-all debt requirements through these difficult times?

Did we invest in the necessary digital tools – equipment and skills – to allow us to adapt to alternate means of communication and business? Can we effectively and safely work remotely? Can our kids learn from home, wherever their home is?  Do we know that if we have to work at home that everyone is safe?

Do we have the ability to support and protect our staff and ourselves?  Do we have the appropriate benefits plan that covers medical and mental health support?  Have we established a policy that gives us visibility on the needs of our valued employees and our families?  Have we given our staff and ourselves the training and knowledge on how to manage difficult times?

Do we understand ‘Total Cost of Ownership’?  Did we make the purchase that will support and sustain us, or did we buy the cheapest?  Did we understand what we purchased?  Did we receive what was needed or what looked good? Do we know what we need, why we need it and what it will do for us over the long-term?  Will we receive the support necessary for the maintenance of our purchase when we have challenges?

What is the plan if our supply of goods, services and food, is suddenly stopped? Do we know, and have, any alternate sources? How long can we manage until those in our supply chain are able to come back on line, or we find alternates?

What if we are the critical link in the supply chain?  How can we support our clients and those who need us and count on us?  Are we having the right conversations?  Have we established the relationship to initiate these critical conversations?

These are just some of the necessary questions we need to ask ourselves.  It will never serve us individually, or as a society, to keep plodding through our daily lives without the intent of having a long-term commitment to all of our efforts.  To not plan, is to accept our own failures.  We cannot pass blame or point any fingers when we didn’t take everything into consideration and do what we know we could have and should have.

I do not want to assume that this is an easy task.  This will be, and should be, one of the toughest things we do for ourselves and those around us.  We either stand up and prepare, or we stand for nothing. This is not something we start when, and if, we get out of this challenge, but to start NOW when we actually have the time to stop and look at everything – question everything – be honest with what we should have, could have and now will achieve.

As we, our businesses, cities, provinces, country and globally begin to restart, we have the power to create a stronger, more resilient future.  From collaboration, education, introspection and focus, we will face the future, adjust and succeed – just differently.  If you are not sure, seek out those who will challenge you to find your success.

Send me your thoughts: info@womeninsupplychain.ca

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