Remystifying Supply Chains – by Venkatesh Rao – Ribbonfarm Studio

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Remystifying Supply Chains – by Venkatesh Rao – Ribbonfarm Studio

Remystifying Supply Chains

Supply chains are TV for matter

Venkatesh Rao4 hr ago9

If you’re like me, you’ve been avidly consuming supply-chain news and analysis lately. Semiconductor shortages and stuck container ships are the charismatic megafauna everybody is watching, but I’m primarily watching for more mundane little things that surprise me in some way. I’m hoping they will serve as clues that point to new ways of thinkingabout supply chains, because I think our existing mental models are failing us.

A big reason is that we thinksupply chains are old and well-understood parts of the world (after all, ships still ply trade routes that have been in use for millennia), but as I will argue, they’re not. Supply chains as they exist today are as young and mysterious as the internet. The ongoing supply chain crisis is at least as novel an event in human history as the recent big Facebook outage. Arguably more novel.

And we won’t take supply chains seriously enough until we remystify them in a way that forces us to make up new frames that center their recently evolved novel aspects rather than their ancient and familiar aspects. Frames that encompass the entire vast scope of things that move along global supply lines today. Not just shipping containers full of durable manufactured goods, but bulk-carried materials, air-shipped perishables, seafood, livestock, piped materials, electricity, and so on. Viewed this way, the internet is just one supply chain among many, a bits-and-bytes-specific member of a cohort of technologies that date approximately to the 1960s.

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Remystifying Supply Chains – by Venkatesh Rao – Ribbonfarm Studio