The word ‘chain’ evokes images of metal links locked together, but this analogy has not been apt for a long time. Terms such as network, ecosystem, and web are far more appropriate. While it takes a pair of bolt cutters to get through a steel chain, a stiff breeze can destroy a spider web in an instant.
Supply chain managers are working on a continuum that extends from steel to spider web. On the one end is a set of nearly unbreakable links, and on the other is a silky thread. Steel is expensive and lacks agility, and while thread is able to flex, it can be destroyed in an instant. As we start to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting business restrictions, the challenge will be finding the sweet spot between silk and steel.
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