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Collateral Damage

By Art van Bodegraven | 07/17/2016 | 12:07 PM

The nerds with bombs gang, aka ISIS, has apparently struck once again. The massacre in Nice a couple of days ago was either part of a more grand conspiracy, or inspired a guy who was gonna be dateless until he collected his 3 or 4-score virgins.

Personally, I don't really know what the West's next moves ought to be, but is does seem that we are, in the collective, reluctant to risk blowing the burqa off some radical's grandma in a military strike.

No one relishes the prospect of blowing up babies in order to kill or maim a terrorist, but, it is war. Some among us are a little trembly in the knees at the prospect of shooting back, or worse, pre-emptively, when we discover where the scraggly-bearded heroes of the caliphate are hiding. I'll repeat. It is war - and we neither started it nor should be required to take one in the shorts because we eschew mindless slaughter of innocents.

So, yes, when we do what ought to be done to enemy combatants, there will be collateral damage. A hospital next to an armory might explode. A school next door to a war planning coffee house might catch fire. Grow up! All combat delivers some level of collateral damage.

In competing supply chain enterprises, some bold decisions get taken. One food processor elected to focus on a limited set of profitable products. Capacity was limited, and they decided to get out of the pickle business. I witnessed grown men weep at the demise of the pickles. Collateral damage.

More recently, a diversified consumer products company decided that a very-well-selling peanut butter was not a good fit with its other highly profitable market leader products. They sold the brand to a foods corporation, where the hand-in-glove relationship with jams and jellies made much more sense. Collateral damage.

Still another business titan discovered that its respected white goods lines were not nearly as exciting for the future as its complex high technology market leaders. They prepared for the future by selling the present to a third party. Collateral damage.

Recognizing that business, especially supply chain management, is a form of war, maybe collateral damage, which calls out for some limitations in a civilized society, is a natural and normal risk for those engaging in conflict of any sort.

Maybe, just maybe, we need to understand that conflict resolution in the extreme will deliver some level of collateral damage, but that a greater good outweighs the risk of damage.



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About Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven (1939 - 2017) was Managing Principal of the van Bodegraven Associates consultancy and Founding Principal of Discovery Executive Services, which develops and delivers supply chain educational programs. He was formerly Chair of the Supply Chain Group AG, Partner at The Progress Group LLC, Development Executive at CSCMP, Practice Leader with S4 Consulting, and a Managing Director in Coopers & Lybrand's consulting practice. Concentrating in supply chain management and logistics for over 20 years in his 50+ year business career, he has led ground-breaking strategic, operational, and educational projects for leading US and global clients. Art was principal co-author of DC Velocity's Basic Training monthly column for a decade, and was the principal co-author, with Ken Ackerman, of Fundamentals of Supply Chain Management, the definitive primer in the field. His popular blog, The Art of Art, has been a staple of DC Velocity's web site since its inception.


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