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Coronavirus Panel: Much Still Unknown, Prepare for Variance

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In Tuesday afternoon’s timely panel entitled, “Coronavirus and Global Supply Chains: What You Need to Know Now,” it was clear that much is still unknown about the COVID-19 outbreak and its global ripple. 

“Everybody will have an opinion and that is the reality – we are too close to this event and they are all opinions in my judgment right now,” noted author and researcher Philip J. Palin of the overall distress and turmoil derived from this force majeure.

However, Palin, along with MHI Chief Operating Officer John Paxton and Resilience360 CEO David Shillingford were in full agreement that all entities need to brace for what is yet to come. 

“One thing supply chains hate is variance and there is going to be a lot of that,” said Resilience360’s Shillingford. 

Palin, labeling himself as a contrarian trying to turn this into a good news story, said that European and North American supply chains should find themselves ahead of the curve even as this very contagious virus continues to be on the move in these regions, among others.

Palin’s optimism stems from the fact that the spread beyond Asia is not taking place during the Chinese New Year. Unlike the ill timing of the outbreak during the height of the world’s largest migration, “We don’t have 300 million people separated from their places of work.” 

All that being said, Palin warned that companies should not wait “until the gun is pointed at your head.” Strategic anticipation should continue as this event continues to evolve as a predictable surprise rather than a “black swan.”

Shillingford said it is imperative to assume something bad is going to happen and plan accordingly. Although it would be better to be planning days, weeks, if not months ago, he emphasized that it is absolutely not too late. 

“People like us like to sit up here and say you should have been planning for this a year ago, but it is not very helpful to say that,” Shillingford said. “What is helpful is to say that mapping out supply chains can and should be done today.” 

Shillingford said being tactical and hyperlocal right now – today – is the first step toward what he sees as best practices. 

“This is not a binary thing where we react today and then start planning tomorrow,” Shillingford said. “It is a single process where everything you do today is part of a longer journey.” 

Palin said it is important to rely upon high-fidelity, proprietary data and knowledge networks. He also noted that it doesn’t hurt to have boots on the ground. 

“I am a great believer in the human relationships,” Palin said, noting he always likes to compare and contrast personal accounts with predictable data.

* To read MHI's official statement related to the coronavirus, click here

 

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