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If you want to beat Mike Tyson, you need more than a well-scripted plan! Philip Evans with Mars, AB InBev and DP World

Let’s be realistic: if you want to beat Mike Tyson, you need more than a well scripted plan!

At F&L we kicked off our Friday Forum discussion on 17 April with supply chain leaders reflecting on Mike Tyson’s much quoted words “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth!”  We’ve not suddenly become boxing aficionados but rather are realistic and pragmatic; when crisis strikes then even a well-rehearsed plan can unfold at an alarming speed.  Never has that been truer than during Covid-19.

Our contributors highlighted actions taken as planned and unplanned. These are discussed regularly by the supply chain community but came into sharp focus in recent weeks.

  • Proximity – longer supply chains came into vogue to increase “efficiency” by arbitraging labour costs but “onshoring” is now being discussed. Proximity to suppliers and customers matters whether you are a food manufacturer or healthcare supplier.  The cost versus control debate will rage.
  • Bullwhip – this effect has been felt strongly throughout supply chains as volatile demand causes havoc with inventories and increases inefficiencies.  Longer supply chains will exacerbate greater demand and supply imbalance and require time to rectify.  Demand visibility and inventories are key.
  • Automation – limited human intervention has ensured factories and warehouses have been able to continue operations, with appropriate changes to working practices.  On occasions humans are the weak link.
  • Digitalisation – working from home enabled by digital technology has taken on a whole new meaning for so many.  The digitalisation of processes will now accelerate. Perhaps export documentation will finally be digitised?
  • Data – if information is key for innovative, flexible, and rapid decision making then data is the core ingredient. Generating, analysing, and utilising data across supply chains has become essential.
  • Geopolitical – if proximity is important then so is a better understanding of geopolitical events and risk.  Supply chains will need to build in an understanding of risk factors and appropriate alternative options.

A realistic assessment of the above must depend at least in part on Collaboration with partners. The greater the collaboration the more likely you can bring all the required skills and experience together. As they say, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” and we’ll need a whole lot of innovation and collaboration to floor Mike!

This week we launch our sustainability survey to our network.  This does not override the current immediacy of the Covid-19 crisis but rather reflects the view of many in the logistics sector that we cannot lose momentum in tackling the issues around CO2 and sustainability more generally.

Our next Friday Focus will be on 24th April. For more news from the supply chain front-line, join the F&L discussion.



Philip Evans, F&L Secretary General
AB InBev
DP World Antwerp
Join the F&L discussion – email [email protected]