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Watching Geralt of Rivia wielding his sword against fearsome creatures in the medieval dark fantasy realm of The Witcher, I couldn’t help but draw inspiration and reflection from the lessons he gained along the way. Grab your swords – or perhaps your spreadsheet if you are still using them – and join me as I explore what lessons The Witcher’s Geralt can teach us about supply chains and how the guardians of global supply chains implement these lessons in their businesses to thrive.

Witch hunts are never about the witches

Just like the witch hunts are not truly about witches but as societal fears, and power dynamics, supply chain issues can often have rooted causes beyond the immediate blame on the disruptions. They are the factors accelerating the existing issues within your processes and are mostly scapegoats.

When discussing supply chain management with executives, the term commonly used to describe what most businesses need is 'risk-resiliency.'

Resilient supply chains go beyond firefighting issues or recovering from them—it is about creating that risk-resilient environment by predicting, anticipating, and promptly responding to potential risks or opportunities in the future by bringing accurate, real-time operational data together to make better informed decisions in the moment.

Disruptions are catalysts for growth

Geralt's character development and perspective are shaped by the notion that suffering serves as a valuable instructor. His resilience is a result of his pain. Now, let's envision these monsters as unexpected events in global supply chains and ask yourself as a decision-maker how would you use these disruptions as stepping stones on your path?

  • Invest in cutting-edge technologies like AI, ML, robotics, and automation to improve supply chain processes. AI-driven algorithms enable better prediction, demand forecastinginventory management, and route optimization by learning from historical data and real-time trends. Allocate funds saved from ML/AI-based decision support systems to enhance risk management and address supply chain gaps.

  • Alternate sourcing strategies to break away from relying too heavily on one source or route. Most companies are vulnerable to disruptions caused by political unrest, natural disasters, or changing trade policies. Diversification mitigates risks associated with relying solely on a single country.

  • Adopt responsible practices. Governments now require greater transparency and traceability within supply chains. Businesses are developing systems to track the origin and destination of their products and prioritize ethical and sustainable practices. These systems are used not only to comply with regulations but also to collaborate effectively and stand out from the competition, as there is a growing market segment that increasingly values responsible sourcing and sustainable operations.

Collaboration is essential

Though our main character is a mighty Witcher, he is well aware of the importance of teaming up with various characters to achieve his goals. As in a medieval magical realm, supply chain collaboration is crucial for making well-informed and agile decisions.

In an era of uncertainty, no company can do it alone. Disruptions such as natural disasterslabor shortagesunexpected logistic challengeswater canal blockages, and logistic challenges will continue to occur. Businesses that are digitally linking all the trading partners and ensuring a seamless flow of information continue to be in a better position to anticipate disruptions and take agile actions needed to keep serving their customers.

Either in Witcher’s magic world or in a modern global business world, rather than viewing unexpected events solely as hindrances, disruptions act as a compass, guiding us towards untapped potential and encouraging necessary improvements.

Taking lessons from what we have been experiencing for the last decades, businesses that can convert disruptions into catalysts for growth are the ones that develop greater risk-resiliency and therefore are better equipped to navigate future challenges in times of disruption.

To learn more about how to replace the vulnerabilities and risks across global supply chains, download this recent Oxford Economics Study: “Five Supply Chain Strategies to Achieve Resiliency and Avoid Risk.”