top of page


In a guest article titled “Under the Looking Glass,” Laurel Rafferty examines the dimensions of supply chain resiliency and dispels common misconceptions in the context of Yossi Sheffi’s 2015 book The Power of Resilience.

RESILIENCE The Power of Resilience


Yossi Sheffi, 2015

Examples from This Book of Some of Yossi Sheffi’s Most Quotable Quotes & Salient Points on Supply Chains Disruptions

Previously, in the introductory port note article, we discussed supply chain disruptions—that the biggest issue was the uncertainty about them and biggest certain message for everyone—individuals. companies, and government—is that they can and should prepare for supply chain disruptions.

Some Quotable Quotes

Supply chains and logistics are outdoor sports, and customers don’t want to hear that the game was canceled because of rain.

In the end, the rise of global trade means that companies have more moving pieces stretched over greater distances and with less slack in the system. And with a growing global population and a growing global economy, significant supply chain disruptions are inevitable. Thus, when a quake hits Japan or anywhere else unexpectedly, the companies of the global economy find themselves shaking, too.

A company’s ability to confidently manage its risks implies that it can take strategic risks to create growth. That, in turn, implies that a resilient company can avoid the most insidious risk of all: the risk of stagnation and irrelevance in the dynamic global economy of the future.

Creative destruction may be disruptive, yet as the theory of evolution suggests, “survival of the fittest” is what keeps companies, industries, and economies competitive. Competition motivates innovations in products, services, costs, and consumer choices. As with the evolution of species, the more competitive and prone to failure individual players in an industry are, the more robust the industry as a whole is.

Supply chain risk management is in a race between the fragility of complex global supply chains and the resilience created by better risk management.

How can one justify investments in these initiatives when they seem like a waste of resources when nothing happens? The chapter argues that unlike insurance, which pays off only in a crisis, resilience drives everyday improvements in costs, operations, revenues, reputation, and agility.

What is resilience?

Chapter 14 of Sheffi’s Power of Resilience, entitled “Why Resilience”, speaks to the essence of resilience, but does not define it per se.

A key issue for Sheffi is the relation of resilience to supply chains working and a major point is: Everything depends on supply chains working, everything.

There’s ample evidence throughout the Power of Resilience to back up this point, while at the same time there is ample evidence of what Sheffi means by resilience, take this example:

“A company that can detect, prevent, or respond to natural or accidental and intentional disruptions can make the most of its winning products by ensuring continuity of supply. Resilience helps companies compete—even in the face of true unknown-unknown disruptions—by imbuing an organization with the vigilance, responsiveness, and flexibility to detect and respond to unexpected events quickly and effectively. And resilience is more than just a way to bounce back. The activities that create resilience also improve collaboration, coordination, and communication in both directions of the supply chain, making it a strategy for bouncing forward into a future rich with possibility” (pp. 369-370)

Some Salient Points

A sample taken from the first three chapters to foster understanding of how to prepare for supply chain disruptions. The sample provides a very detailed example of how one company responded to a mega disruption – GM’s response to the 2011 quake and tsunami in Japan.

Sheffi covers an enormous range of types of supply change disruptions, beyond what many have considered falling in this category. His coverage is as exhaustive as one can imagine. And his explanations, based on my research, are unparalleled—he shows complete mastery of the subject matter. And this is not dryly presented--Sheffi infuses a sense of the drama of the circumstances.

Based on interviews with many companies and MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics research—which he directs---Sheffi describes what can be done to spot, stop, and soften the wide-ranging risks of supply chain disruptions. His aim, as he describes it, is to offer cross-sectional and longitudinal insights on the subject matter.

I stick very closely to his text and its organization in parts in my coverage.

What is a supply chain?

Sheffi’s definition of a supply chain is a good example of the level of detail he provides:

“A supply chain—which is actually a network of suppliers, sub-suppliers, and service providers—can be thought of as having five different aspects:

1. The parts that go into the company’s products*

2. The identities of the network of suppliers who make those parts

3. The locations where parts and products are made, assembled, and distributed

4. The flows of parts and products (including the transportation links that move materials along the chain), as well as the flow of information and cash

5. The inventories of materials, parts, and finished goods stored or being handled in various stages of the chain

Each of these five aspects provides different insights into the risks to which supply chain operations are exposed.”

“#1 [above] is The What of a supply chain

The first aspect of a supply chain for a given product--such as an automobile, encompasses all the materials and parts that go into that product— is the “what.” “… [and so on for 2-5]

Part 2

On Management of Disruptions & Their Risks

What is prevention, detection, and response?

Prevention usually targets predictable disruption causes, for better or worse, as this means that it may not lessen the likelihood of unknown-unknown risks. Detection and fast response is, or an important part it plays is this, is in speeding up a company’s communication of information and its decision-making processes.

While disruptions differ in their particulars, management of them and their risks, entails common activities: prevention, detection, and response, which can provide a footing for resilience efforts.

“The growing interconnectedness of the global economy makes it increasingly prone to contagion. Contagious events, including medical and financial problems, can spread via human networks that often correlate strongly with supply chain networks. Unlike the more localized disruptions of natural disasters, industrial accidents, or terrorist strikes, global crises deliver a near-simultaneous blow to multiple countries and multiple industries. Furthermore, the mere fear of contagion, especially with health and financial issues, can cause a reduction in demand because of caution as well as supply and price spike issues resulting from hoarding. Although everyone can get hit, the weaker and less-prepared companies suffer the most.”

Evidence from prior talk about the disruptions of company business shows that different disruptions have different degrees of impact and different likelihoods, which impact how companies rank risk management measures. Further, they can estimate these differences with historical, analytic, and subjective measures.

“… from a risk management standpoint, the high-likelihood/low-impact events do not require any significant response and, by and large, do not represent an existential threat. In contrast, high-impact disruptions—whether relatively likely or highly unlikely—are what risk management is all about.”

Risk managers can fail to anticipate many types of events--ones neither imagined nor prepared for, and resulting in big disruptions, a type including so-called black swans, events believed not possible. Nassim Taleb made the expression black swan popular, and the flawed reasoning behind it: i.e., “lack of evidence of a possible disruption does not constitute evidence of lack of possible disruption.” Black swans reflect a type of deeper uncertainty than general likelihood, with experts misjudging the likelihood of a black swan risk at 0%, when it is higher.

Yet Another “Big One”: High-Impact, High-Likelihood Disruptions--the worst, hitting comparatlvely often and hit hard, the ones that justify companies taking proactive steps; ones significant enough that companies plan for them, prepare to use ways to lessen their impact, and coordinate these responses with their suppliers. “As the power law indicates, the likelihood of specific high-impact events may still be very small, yet [it is good to remember that] “globalization has increased the length, breadth, and complexity of supply chains … unlikely, global enterprises are now exposed to large numbers of unlikely events through all their complex and lean networks of suppliers. In other words, the probability that a specific disruption will take place in a specific supplier’s facility on a specific day may be very small. However, the probability that something significant will happen somewhere in a global supply chain sometime during a given year is not negligible.”

The most dangerous events are not the well-known high-impact/high-likelihood ones for which the organization has experience and well thought-out “playbooks.” Rather, the most dangerous events are the high-impact/low-likelihood ones.

The reason is because such events are either unimaginable or are so rare that they have not taken place in recent memory, if ever, and as such are “not on the radar screen” of risk managers.

And even if such events are imagined, they may be assessed as unlikely and therefore they don’t justify proactive steps like mitigation procedures or playbooks.

“There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns—there are things we do not know we don’t know.” [from Donald Rumsfeld]

“Risk managers can think about the analogs of these three categories of foreknowledge in a supply chain risk management context.

1. The “known knowns” of disruptions are the everyday problems …. They also include seasonal variations and long-term trends, such as population aging, urbanization, and declining automobile ownership in the developed world.

2. The “known unknowns” are the foreseeable but random disruptive events whose probability can be estimated from historical evidence, power-law extrapolation, and logic. “Known unknown” events include tornados in Oklahoma and hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. Such disruptions may be significant, but they are not considered “outside the realm of possibility.” These are the high-likelihood/high-impact events that can be prepared for through playbooks, drills, and experience. They can also be insured against because their probability density is known and thus a quantitative risk measure can be calculated.

3. Finally, there are the “unknown unknowns”—those events for which not only can the likelihoods not be calculated, but the events themselves have not been imagined. Such events should be discussed in terms of uncertainty rather than risk.”

“The statistics of big, rare events hide a curse. No matter how bad the last “big one” was, a bigger one is inevitable.

- As history rolls onward, the list of major disruptions grows skyward.

- The next “bigger one” may take a long time to materialize, or it could happen tomorrow; but, unfortunately, the unlikely is not the impossible.

- With a growing global population and a growing global economy, the biggest disaster will always lie somewhere in the future.

-Yet, companies don’t prepare specifically for meteor strikes, calamitous accidents, or cataclysmic storms and other natural events.

- Such occurrences are too infrequent, especially within the scope of a single company and its supply chain.

Preparation for unexpected events requires the development of general resilience—the ability and processes required to “bounce back” from whatever happens.”

Resilience to Effects vs. Causes

What is the power law?

It is where one quantity varies as a power of another.

“As the power law indicates, the likelihood of specific high-impact events may still be very small, yet [it is good to remember that] “globalization has increased the length, breadth, and complexity of supply chains … unlikely, global enterprises are now exposed to large numbers of unlikely events through all their complex and lean networks of suppliers. In other words, the probability that a specific disruption will take place in a specific supplier’s facility on a specific day may be very small. However, the probability that something significant will happen somewhere in a global supply chain sometime during a given year is not negligible.”

Instead of worrying about the non-stop catalogue of new causes of disruption, one company, Cisco, started studying risk’s effects side of the equation, especially “what if we can’t make and deliver a given product” not considering cause.

- Effects, unlike causes, are controllable and known because they are directly tied to the company’s set of products and its worldwide system of suppliers and contract manufacturers.

- A company can consider a disruption’s potential impacts to individual products in terms of its interruption of its revenues.

The effects-focused view reflects the fact that what is disrupted matters more than why it is disrupted.” “And the products’ risks do follow a power law—a relative few of Cisco’s products account for more than half its potential risk, simplifying risk prioritization efforts. The impact estimation method and the crisis management dashboard [we] describe use this focus on products. The effects-focused view reflects the fact that what is disrupted matters more than why it is disrupted.”

Part 3

The Link between Causes and Likelihood

Considering causes has value. Some products rely on riskier causes: technologies from riskier premises, and riskier suppliers in riskier locations. A disruption’s likelihood plays an important part “in prioritizing preparations for it”.

A causal focus also:

- has use in “understanding correlated risks—the chance that two different effects might” happen at once, creating greater disruption.

- allows risk managers to consider the scopes of different disruption types.

Part 4


What is detectability?

Detectability adds a time factor to disruptions’ taxonomy: the time between realizing a disruptive event will occur and its initial impact.

Disruptions also vary on the critical dimension of detectability –i.e., they can be forecast or detected well in advance of impact; others strike with no warning. Detectability adds a time factor to disruptions’ taxonomy: the time between realizing a disruptive event will occur and its initial impact. Event detectability can be positive (occurring before the impact), zero (when realized at the moment of occurrence), or negative (when realized after the disruption’s occurrence).

On adding the detectability dimension to the two dimensions, consequences and likelihood, and

with detectability divided into four main segments:

1. Those that are very long-term trends that companies have time to get ready for strategically

2. Those that happen with some amount of short warning

3. Those that hit with no warning and can be recognized immediately if they happen

4. Those that are only found out some time after occurrence or never

While long-term trends differ from any other risk in the chance they present to include them in a company’s plans, and hence benefit from them, even so, “like the proverbial frog in gradually heating water”, some companies may not spot, get ready for, or exploit slowly changing trends.

In the case of zero detection lead-time, there are instances when forecasting an event is not possible, but there is instantaneous knowledge of the disruption. Such instances fall into different categories with different responses: High-impact/high-likelihood disruptions spark a by-the-book response based on know-how from prior experience and practice; high-impact/low-likelihood events, which are more surprising, demand a battery of responses, including: significant information collecting, evaluation, and creative problem solving.

Both situations involve detection time to assess what happened and what to do.

"A large disruption can affect an entire industry, in which case the company that identifies the nature and magnitude of the problem early on can minimize the impact by securing supply, transportation, and access before its competitors do.”

Hidden events have dangers lying in wait in having negative detection lead-times, i.e., some disruptions have a hidden start. Examples include food contamination, other types of product defects, and, perhaps worst of all. unknown unknowns. Generally, the longer the detection lead-time, the more the impact and its injury.

Companies have a variety of strategic choices for managing the veritable risk menagerie that they confront, potentially including prevention of the avoidable, a codified process to respond to common ones, general resilience for the surprising or seldom-occurring ones, and increasing awareness of incipient and progressing ones.

Part 5

Managing Risks: On Whether to Reduce a Disruption’s Likelihood or Impact

There are two complementary tactics for reducing risks of the likelihood of disruptions and impacts of disruptions.

As a first measure, a company can lessen how likely a disruption happens by its: compliance with regulations, adherence to social concerns; maintenance of good worker relations; and avoidance of conditions susceptible to disruption. A company may also put in place safety, quality, and security measures, including cyber-security, to prevent possible planned attacks.

However, such prevention and likelihood-reducing procedures cannot eradicate risks.

Further: Prevention usually targets predictable disruption causes, which means that it may not lessen the likelihood of unknown-unknown risks.

As a second measure, companies can lessen disruption impacts by preparing responses to them that are both timely and effective.

Such possible assets as spare inventory and capacity, and substitute suppliers provide materials and resources that can help lessen impacts while increasing recovery times.

Pliant processes can facilitate fast and efficient responses by a company, such as creating emergency operations centers, business continuity plans, and established acceleration procedures that help response coordination.

“Increasing flexibility and adding “just-in-case” assets can provide general resilience that helps address unknown-unknown threats.”

Critical to reducing a disruption’s impact is swift detectioni.e., moving from unknown to known.

Faster detection, means more preparation time, e.g., it can relocate inventory and assets from the disrupted area, prepare recovery materials, or put in place alternative supplies.

Detection also entails understanding a disruption’s extent and degree.

An important part in detection and fast response is speeding up a company’s communication of information and its decision-making processes.

Sensors exist which can warn of hazards such as a fire and these can connect to automatic fire alarms, and emergency responders.

Companies use social media in detection of consumer problems with their products and their mitigation of emerging problems. Some companies go further, adding solutions to their social media discussions.

Detecting trends and lengthy disruptions means monitoring environmental changes; detecting events having an immediate impact means monitoring operations, suppliers, and the regions of their operation; detecting events with a hidden-impact means rigorous monitoring of less evident supply chain parts, such as deeper-tier suppliers, fringe but influential industry groups, and atypical adverse events affecting customers potentially pointing to a previously unknown problem in a company’s products or processes.

Detection requires a broad and deep strategy—more than simply putting in smoke alarms or following social media—one that involves following events, particular impending and potential future ones that might cause company disruption.

Detection hinges on the heart of the supply chain’s visibility—or, simply put, timely making the unknown known.

Through detection, a company might move from:

1) not knowing its disruption exposure from a regional hurricanes resulting from the location a of a deep-tier supplier of vital raw material in that region to

2) knowing its exposure but only through an estimated likelihood and impact based on actuarial data to

3) knowing that the hurricane’s supplier strike will be in three days but that the supplier has four weeks’ inventory available at an inland distribution center and five weeks of recovery time through a business continuity plan, producing a potential one-week supply gap a month after the hurricane’s hit.

Detection thus changes unknown-unknowns into known-unknowns and known-unknowns into known-knowns.

Unknown risks can dwarf known ones as was shown by GM’s experience with the 2011 Japan quake, an experience that also reveals the intense interconnectedness that has emerged among companies.

Part 6

Responding to Disruptions from Afar

GM’s 2011 Japan quake experience also shows the challenges of responding to distant disruptions.

It was not until four days after the event that GM assessed that 30 of its suppliers and 390 parts were affected by the quake and tsunami. But note that it takes only one missing part to thwart a car’s completion and shipping.

Alarms went off when GM learned:Available inventories indicated that the level of interruption in parts would prevent production at many of its assembly plants within eight days; it first estimated that by the end of the first month after the event struck, all GM factories worldwide would be shut down and, further, that production could be disrupted for more than half a year at a minimum.

GM, like other companies, learned from other crises; this experience provided a pillar of people and processes for responding to the current crisis.

While crises can differ dramatically in causes, they are alike in their supply chain disruption effects.

Part 7

GM’s Response Tasks

GM created crisis rooms as a 1st step, rooms for work on central project coordination of supply chain solutions for specific crisis components, and engineering solutions for involved parts, rooms all located 15 miles from GM headquarters, in its futuristic VEC (Vehicle Engineering Center), in which were also located its engineering and design functions and its supply chain management organization; additional smaller crisis rooms in other GM worldwide locations also supported the project.

Given the imminent risk of shutdown, GM needed a team skilled at solving tough problems swiftly in stressful situations.

GM’s prior project experience provided its first benefits in this regard: “I knew exactly—I mean literally day one—I knew the people we wanted, because I pulled in people who had worked on Project D*,” said Rob Thom, manager, Global Vehicle Engineering Operations. *To resolve the enormous implications of losing its biggest supplier to bankruptcy in 2005, GM created “Project D”.

Supply chain staff led the effort’s management, including Bill Hurles, GM’s executive director of Global Supply Chain, who was the head, ensuring strong collaboration between the supply chain and engineering organizations.

With a mantra of communicate, act, report, the GM team quickly put in place a daily ritual heavily concentrated on these and applied to the highest priority issues. Frank communications helped focus attention on the hardest problems. GM learned what was the tough part of carrying this out: while you don’t want to deliver bad news sometimes you must.

Among the routine’s details: starting each day with an early call to senior leaders, including the Vice Chairman, all regions--North America, which was affected in its entirety--the drill was ‘here’s where we are, here’s what we learned, here’s our downtime, here’s our challenge for the day’.”

The team next defined the day’s actions to achieve the day’s goals. Sub-teams, such as a supply chain team, met separately. Within two hours, crisis team leaders had informed all the teams working on the crisis. In follow-up, within a few hours, the crisis team also updated sales, service, and marketing teams. Near day’s end, they did another follow-up on the day’s learning and progress, thereby completing the recount on the team’s daily recovery activities. These regular and dependable communications of status, goals, actions, and results maintained the group’s steady work toward the goal. For many team members, the event’s global nature and the extent of the problems meant working twenty-fours daily.

GM’s crisis response called for a complex five-task attack plan minimizing the crisis impact on its production and later sales and worked on by crisis room teams. These basic tasks included identifying

disrupted parts; assessing entailed risk; forestalling parts’ shortages, reducing such shortages; and optimizing production during the disruption.

These multi-faceted tasks primarily concerned the company’s supply chain, purchasing, engineering, and marketing areas, and all had to occur concurrently.

GM’s first task began the day of the quake: it was to identify all disrupted parts and their operational impact, in sum, to detect potential disruptions.As described by Thom [i.e., Rob Thom, as previously noted, manager of Global Vehicle Engineering Operations]: “When we had the first meeting, it was like, ‘OK, who are the players and who knows what?’ Well, we didn’t have any information yet. So, they handed us the 390 part numbers, and then an hour later said, ‘Oh, by the way, we’ve got a hundred more.’” Over time deep supply chain disruptions showed up; GM appreciated that the faster their detection took place, the faster it could solve them.

As with most companies, GM did not have direct business dealings with deeper-tier suppliers.

The difficulty was that Tier 1 suppliers are generally responsible for their own engineering and sourcing decisions from deeper tiers, and adding to this difficulty, suppliers regard these relationships as proprietary and confidential—part of their intellectual property, and, as a result, restricting GM’s recognition of how the quake might impact various suppliers’ production and recovery options.

As GM’s team mapped its supply chains’ deeper tiers on an on-going basis, it knew, pre-quake, its exposure to semiconductor risks. “We already had a pretty good roadmap, and it helped us navigate our way through,” said Bill Hurles, as noted above, executive director of GM’s Global Supply Chain. It’s collaboration with its engineering area helped, as well. Its engineers often were familiar with some of the Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers as they knew the specific sensor or chip that was used within a specific subsystem.

Deeper team digging uncovered more problems: Some of its non-Japanese suppliers had Japanese suppliers; some of its non-Japanese suppliers had additional non-Japanese suppliers who had Japanese suppliers, etc., creating a longer list of problems, and moving target for GM.

Keeping track of individual parts became tough as affected parts’ numbers grew, and this growth hindered communications and complicated efforts. This led to a switch from tracking individual parts to tracking so-called “commodities,” i.e., common classes of parts or subassemblies used on the bulk of vehicles and a more manageable commodity-based list, and as GM’s purchasing, engineering, and supply base functions were mainly organized around commodities, “it made sense in terms of finding the right internal and external people to address each affected commodity”.

To know how many parts were affected took longer than two months; the final number was almost 15 times higher than the original assessment--and “each missing part raised the specter of halting production somewhere in GM’s system”.

GM’s second task was to establish a method for tracking the developing crisis, a visual chart, or so-called dashboard, that would readily show the status of all the details of the crisis.

Part 8

White Space

What is white space?

For GM, white space is a room-spanning whiteboard showing the status for all of its assembly plants worldwide.

In it its prior experience with Project D, GM found the solution, what it called white space charts, a room-spanning whiteboard showing the status for all 16 of its assembly plants worldwide.

Details of the chart’s format along its horizontal time axis:

- Current day and near-term weeks on its left edge—duly shaded, marked, and annotated--to show when any part shortages could impact that assembly plant.

- A circle that showed when a part shortage for some vehicles, but that GM could address by continuing making other variations of that vehicle.

- A triangle to point out a potential issue impacting production.

- An “X” for a sure production disruption.

- With GM’s data-gathering from suppliers, chart marks grew in number on the assorted timelines for each covered plant.

- The chart’s right-hand-side showed each plant timeline it covered but for more months to nearly a year, when it foresaw production restarting through either recovering the original supplier, putting alternative suppliers in place, or identifying an engineering alternative, as well as previously scheduled production stops, such as the annual midsummer shutdown—i.e., the yearly production suspension during which GM did maintenance and retooling, changed to the new model year, and workers were on vacation.

The chart’s middle held its namesake white-space, the time gap during which supplies would run out and before the date anticipated for solving the disruption. In the very early crisis period all chart rows had “X’s,” sometimes many, at some timeline point--marks showing when part shortages would make GM shut down production at that plant.

Through its shading and color-coding the chart’s two sides, the crisis team showed its gap management progress, red meaning it had no plan as yet; yellow that it had a plan but had no implementation yet; and green that plan execution was underway.

With different groups working on the chart’s two sides, on its left on extending existing suppliers, on its right on resuming supplies, the two sides could have different colors.

Eliminating all white-space was GM’s primary goal of its crisis response. Recovery teams also meant to make both white-space chart sides turn green to reflect their sureness about parts supplies and recovery plans.

GM staff used the same color codes to talk about the condition of different commodities: By April 13—the quake struck March 11--, of the 116 commodities known to be disrupted, recovery plans were underway for 44 (status: green), they had plans for 61 more (status: yellow) and only 11 were “red” commodities.

By May 27, problems had expanded to more commodities, from 116 to 118, but GM engineers and Japan’s suppliers had progressed significantly in identifying substitutes or bringing back production. Commodity groups marked “red” decreased from 11 to 2; commodities marked “green” increased from 44 to 82.

GM’s third task was to delay the shutdown, as it needed to staunch the impacts of growing news of other parts disruptions, and re-estimate when it would run out and which specific vehicles would be involved by the new shortage, this latter to add “X” marks on the white space chart’s left and to define that white-space boundary. Working hard to find any available surplus inventory of the affected parts, the supply chain team searched the entire supply chain. This included inventories of replacement parts to be found in the field and at dealers. All of this enabled moving crucial “x” marks to a later date and reducing white space on that side.

These steps worked to push the shutdown incrementally into the future, to a date providing more than six weeks for finding other ways.

GM’s fourth task was to reduce the time-to-recovery. Procurement and engineering, in concurrent efforts, helped with the affected suppliers’ recovery and the substitute parts’ search. For substitutions there was a double search, for new suppliers and well-stocked parts’ adaptations to address part shortages resulting from the disruption.

At the same time, to have a two-track solution, GM also had supplier quality engineers in Japan helping in supplier recovery and production restart efforts. But, finding a substitute part was not a simple matter. Normally, engineers require six to twelve months to meet the requirements of and substantiate each new part or supplier.

In building cars designed to last many years and miles, all parts must be examined to ensure its effective, safe, and reliable job performance under such conditions on the road as the extremes of temperatures ranges, mechanical stress, and exposure to such fluids as gasoline, motor oil, antifreeze, and others. Compatibility is required in size, weight, and materials of the proposed substitute with the other parts and materials on the vehicle and with its manufacturing.

Articles to come on:

Supply Chain Disruptions [SCDs]: There will be more articles on SCDs as events unfold; and we will continue to inject humor on this topic as we did in the introductory article on SCDs--these disruptions will continue, as we cannot ban war, weather, disease, they’re woven into the weft and warp of life.

Systemic Risk of supply chain disruptions: On what the systemic risk of supply chain disruptions is and the basis for it.

Robust Decision-Making [RDM]: On when to apply this advance in strategic planning and why.

Determinants of Competitiveness: a broad and important topic.

Logistics Clusters: What their beneficial impacts are and why they can fail.

Systems Thinking: On what the main concepts of systems thinking are and the importance of their interconnection.

On Your Feedback:

I[1]f you’re enjoying what you’re reading, please consider recommending it to friends. They can sign up by sending me an email at If you want to share your thoughts on an item in this article, please also send them to me at this same email address

About the author of this piece:


Laurel E. Rafferty


Laurel Rafferty has specialized expertise in port/maritime and freight transportation system strategic planning. Her experience in this area of specialization, many years in duration, has been divided between public and private sector work and is international in scope. She is founding principal of Portscape. The firm has a strong research component, which complements its work in planning and strategy development. This research has led to a shift in the firm’s emphasis from sustainability to the resilience of transport systems


bottom of page