Crisis: State Rights & Delivery Channels

If you’re like me, you’re kind sick (hopefully not literately) of this image. It really is a beautiful image of a biological phenomena, little red triangles mounted on pillars fastened to a little ball of fat– who knew such a small thing could cause so much upheaval. It has made me think of a couple of issues–primarily: State Rights &  delivery channels and the role of leadership.

States Rights

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Familiar words to most Americans, the Preamble of the Constitution serves as a mission statement for the following document. One key word that sticks out to me is the word Union. As of late, while listening to national news, I can’t help but consider what that means these days. I sense that there is a deep divide in obligations and expectations on both the States and the Federal Government– in addition to ubiquitous opinions on the topic. That said, I would challenge our “leaders”/ lawmakers to have a rational discussion on what this means.

In a recent trip to Washington D.C. I had the pleasure of taking a Capital Tour. I had never been and, in addition to really enjoying the architecture, I hoped to really enjoy what took place in that architecture. On the tour, we were herded into a large auditorium and shown a movie about the Capital, both chambers and what they do– or I should say, what the founding father’s intent for what they should do. When the movie finished I was thinking: from what I see on the news, every member of congress should watch this movie!– Maybe things would be different.

In my mind, I see social services as a safety net in case my luck takes a turn, (or as my good friend Eric would say “life serves you a crap sandwich”)–I only use it if I need it, not if I want it. I feel as though the States perhaps should take that stance when it comes to the Federal Government, notwithstanding war, of course. To what end are the State obligated to tend to their constituents? To What end are constituents obligated to tend to themselves? These questions are especially demanding clear answers, now more than ever.

Delivery Channels

The topic of distribution of PPEs and ventilators along with the manufacturing of said products has been at the forefront of the topic of this unusual crisis. Logistics and supply chains can make or break a business and win or loose wars. Delivery channels need to be fine-tuned whether your delivering toilet paper or money (right now, seems like one could be the other). We’ve learned now, that our global trade hubris is coming back to to bite us. Remember back in January when we couldn’t get our imports from China because they are shut down? Now we can’t get what we normally export for our use, case in point, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M).

Innovations like supply network mapping for companies, states and governments, help plan for disaster, biological or physical. Choi, Rogers & Vakil, in a recent HBR article entitled: Coronavirus  is a wake up call for supply Chain Management state:

“The most common approach is to use the bill of materials and focus on key components. It typically starts with the top five products by revenue and goes down to their component suppliers, and their suppliers, ideally, all the way down to raw materials suppliers. The goal should be to go down as many tiers as possible, because there may be hidden critical suppliers the buying firm is not aware of. The map should also include information about which activities a primary site performs, the alternate sites the supplier has that could perform the same activity, and how long it would take the supplier to begin shipping from the alternate site.

A new breed of services companies can help acquire and analyze supply network data and organize the results in a user-friendly way. Their services typically do not map the supply networks all the way down to raw materials, but they may provide a start. A few of the companies operating in this space include ElementumLlamasoft, and Resilinc. (Disclosure: One of us, Bindiya Vakil, is the founder and CEO of Resilinc.)”

In addition to innovative methods and systems described above, perhaps our individual states need to look at their manufacturing resources, and identify not only what can be manufactured in the state but how much they sell out of state and why? Say what you will about Jerrod Kushner but perhaps he had a point. States have national guards, police and fire protection, their own laws–why wouldn’t they be responsible for their own stockpiles, disaster plans and internal supply chain networks?

As a consultant, I advise anyone in manufacturing to include redundancy in their supply chain of raw materials. Typically, this consists of  the ole Pareto Rule otherwise known as the 80/20 rule. I encourage manufacturers to always find 2 suppliers one you depend on 80% of your need and another you depend on 20% of your need for the material. I would, after this pandemic, advise the two suppliers not be in the same geographic area (state or country). I wonder if States could take the same approach by identify basic supplies the state would need in a crisis (which we know is a moving target), find manufactures in that state and understand what their supply chain models look like, in order to be prepared for the next devastating round.

In Michigan, I would guess the above mention task would be undertaken by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). Mapping out MI-manufacturing Resources, providing double sided matchmaking for companies (currently PMBC is supply sided), and providing the economic engine of Michigan’s manufacturers and service providers connectivity to all of Michigan’s resources, geography, networks, supply chains and financial.

A Note to our Government Leaders

Personally, I have trouble with blame shifting; a disdain I’ve acquired perhaps a little later in life than most yet still a disdain. I’ve noticed that successful parents, leaders, entrepreneurs and politicians also disdain blame shifting. If we are failing, lets use those failure as lessons for future successes, fix the problem and stop blame shifting. It is a reflection of poor leadership to shift blame especially during a crisis, since this is not done without riling up emotions in those you lead which only leads to more chaos. If this is part of your personality make-up, please find something else to do.

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