Just three weeks ago, I taught an Exec Ed course on global supply chain management in Jakarta. The class concluded with an S&OP (sales and operations planning) project that considers demand trends and supply availability for an Indonesian company in the hospitality industry. During the class, I conducted a workshop on risk mitigation and risk management. More than half of the executives in my class work in healthcare.
COVID-19 was just beginning to escalate in the news. Up to that point it had been mostly escalating in China. The impact was mainly supply disruptions. Indonesia has stocked out on random things sourced from China like onions (onions are $5 each right now). During our session on risk analysis, managers assessed the risks their companies were facing. The top risks noted by most teams were political unrest and natural disaster. While it was a topic of conversation, global health pandemics didn’t make the list.
(Hauser, 2003, “Risk Adjusted SCM,” SCMR
|Risks in Indonesia
#1 Political Unrest
#2 Natural Disaster
#3 Extreme Weather
#4 Demand Shock
|We had no idea that COVID-19 would escalate into a global health crisis. COVID-19 has escalated to not only impact the physical health of people around the world, but also global economic health as well.
Campus closed last week in an attempt to flatten the spread of COVID-19 in Indonesia. I began teaching online from our high-rise apartment that overlooks Lippo Village, just past the Universitas Pelitas Harapan campus.
The topic of my guest lecture in an undergraduate supply chain class was coordination theory and the bullwhip effect. In short, I taught on the impact of demand spikes on the entire supply chain. A stock-out at the retail level has a ripple effect on warehousers, wholesalers, and manufacturers upstream that upsets the entire system.
Students reflected on the products that they would most likely want to stock up on in the face of a crisis – while living in the midst of a crisis. Their answers ranged from water to fresh meat to bread. The number one thing Indonesians stock up on in the face of a crisis is water. The bottled water business is huge in Indonesia and few Indonesians drink water from the tap resulting in little demand for movement toward drinkable tap water. I have come to realize that there are a lot of differences between living through a crisis in the US and Indonesia.
This past week, I led a webinar workshop with a group of entrepreneurs leading companies in Jakarta. We discussed the role of wisdom in running a company with love as a central focus. As we wrapped up the session, I was asked what they could be doing as business leaders in the midst of this crisis to reflect the love of God. Upon reflection, I felt three primary things came to mind:
1. Fix your eyes on God – In Philippians 4:4-7 Paul urges the church in the midst of crisis in Philippi to: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Our first, and maybe hardest, task is to keep our relationship with God central. This means not being overwhelmed by the disruption of business but submitting our troubles and worries to God with space to rejoice in Him despite our circumstances.
- In business, if nothing else, stay calm and assess the situation constantly. Be strategic but know that while our plans are many, we can trust in higher purposes to prevail!
2. Find ways to express love for others – Jesus tells the disciples in John 13:34: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
This means avoiding opportunism that benefits us but comes at a cost to others. It’s the day to day decisions like leaving a little margin for someone else to have access to product they may need (i.e. don’t buy all the toilet paper or hand sanitizer because you can). Stores will continue to have supply, so let’s make sure our neighbor has access to the things they need as well.
- In business, suppliers may also be strained, so this is a great opportunity in business to be a good partner and supply chain member. Find opportunities to profit share AND loss-share – if you lose a key supplier, you won’t have the product you need to be in business anyway. Maybe COVID-19 is new, but crisis and supply chain disruption is not new – if you treat customers and suppliers poorly in this season, past crisis has shown it will break down the effectiveness of your relationships and ultimately your supply chain efficiency.
3. Finally, innovation and invention come in times of necessity. Think about the explosion of the church after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. In a season of great pressure and persecution believers multiplied (Acts 2 and on 😊).
In academic history, the 1665 Plague that closed Cambridge down for TWO YEARS, allowed Sir Isaac Newton the isolation necessary to create calculus and the laws of motion (https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/isaac-newton-the-man-who-discovered-gravity/zh8792p). Why not set our expectations toward revelation and discovery, to discover the calculus and laws of motion equivalent for our generation.
- This is an incredible opportunity to get creative together. I found that the most difficult challenges in the Army build the greatest amount of trust and team efficiency. Let’s lean in to this unique situation to find opportunities to serve our customers, suppliers, neighbors, the church and each other well.
I will be excited to be back in the US, and for this season to be over so I can return again to Indonesia, but in the meantime, I’m going to fix my heart, soul, and resources on higher things. I’m going to love others as well as I am able, and I am going to focus on finding ways to create value and lean into creativity with the gift of time that quarantine may allow. An upside-down market and crisis reveal both inefficiencies as well as opportunities for growth, I pray you will have the opportunity to act on them.
Authoritative Resources about the Corona Virus
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
○ COVID-19 Facts: https://bit.ly/3ad0Zp4
○ Guidance for businesses: https://bit.ly/32AcNPw
○ Prevention at home: https://bit.ly/388pdzl
World Health Organization.
○ Visit https://bit.ly/32zwSpk
○ Visit https://bit.ly/3aiLZG2