Supply Chain is Like Nature, it is all Around Us

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I was intrigued when I saw this quote by Dave Waters, “Supply Chain is like nature, it is all around us.” I thought yes, that is correct, and decided I would do some research as to the difference between “Supply Chain” and “Nature”.  I was surprised by the similarities.

A supply chain is a network or system of producing and delivering a product or service, from the source of raw materials to the final consumer. It includes all the organizations, activities, resources, and technology involved in the creation and sale of the product or service. Supply chain can also be seen as a kind or class of products or services that share common characteristics.

Nature, in the broadest sense, is the physical world or universe. It can refer to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general. Nature is often understood as a creative and controlling force in the universe, as well as an inner force or the sum of such forces in an individual. Nature can also be seen as a kind or class of things that share inherent or essential qualities.

To compare supply chain to nature, we can look at some similarities and differences between them.

Similarities Points of Comparison

  • Involve a flow of materials, energy, and information from one point to another. For example, a supply chain moves raw materials from producers to manufacturers, and then to distributors and retailers. Similarly, nature moves water from clouds to rain, and then to rivers and oceans.
  • Are subject to external influences and disruptions that can affect their functioning. For example, a supply chain can be disrupted by natural disasters, political conflicts, market fluctuations, or consumer preferences. Similarly, nature can be disrupted by human activities, climate change, natural disasters, or invasive species.
  • Have different levels of complexity and diversity depending on the type of product or service, or the type of phenomenon or life form. For example, a supply chain for a simple product like a pencil may have fewer steps and participants than a supply chain for a complex product like a smartphone. Similarly, nature has different levels of complexity and diversity among different ecosystems, species, and organisms.
  • Can be optimized or improved by applying certain principles or methods. For example, a supply chain can be optimized by reducing costs, increasing efficiency, enhancing quality, or minimizing waste. Similarly, nature can be improved by conserving resources, restoring habitats, protecting biodiversity, or promoting sustainability.

Differences Between Supply Chain and Nature

  • A supply chain is a human-made system that is designed to meet human needs and wants. It is based on human knowledge, technology, and innovation. Nature is a natural system that exists independently of human activities. It is based on natural laws, processes, and evolution.
  • The supply chain is a linear system that has a clear beginning and end. It follows a predetermined sequence of steps and stages. Nature is a cyclical system that has no clear beginning or end. It follows a dynamic pattern of cycles and feedback loops.
  • Supply chain is a hierarchical system that has different levels of authority and control. It involves coordination and cooperation among different stakeholders. Nature is a self-organizing system that has no central authority or control. It involves competition and cooperation among different elements.

StockIQ would like to hear your thoughts on the similarities and differences between the supply chain and nature.

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