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APICS Supply Chain Management Now

Gone, Gone, Gone

By APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi CSCP, CPA, CAE - August 17, 2012
APICS Operations Management NowOur office was buzzing Monday about the latest episode of HBO’s True Blood. First, let me confess that I have never seen this show. Another APICS staff person filled me in. The basic premise is this: Since the invention of synthetic blood, a product called Tru Blood, vampires can be integrated into human society because humans no longer represent their only sources of food.

Sunday’s episode, titled “Gone, Gone, Gone,” caught the attention of staff because it prominently features a supply chain risk management story line. Due to presumed terrorist attacks on Tru Blood factories around the world, the synthetic blood supply is running dangerously low. The vampires, concerned about where their next meals are coming from, have reacted by hoarding Tru Blood and attacking human beings. In this fictional scenario, Homeland Security must help manage the situation. Swap out synthetic blood for chemotherapy drugs in the real world, and you have a story ripped from today’s headlines.

Not only have True Blood’s writers crafted a story line around a major supply chain disruption, but they also are using supply chain terminology. Yes, this is a fantasy world, but that is what makes it so interesting. Imagine the writers sitting around a table and trying to answer the question, “What can we do to create chaos in the relationship of humans and vampires?__Cut off the global supply of Tru Blood.” This supply chain disruption, and the ensuing drama, will keep people tuning in to the show next week.

An unexpected source

I won’t start watching True Blood simply because it features a supply chain risk storyline, nor am I recommending the show to you. What I am pointing out is supply chain risk has made its way into popular culture. Prior to the recent global recession, issues related to supply chain management were barely covered in the business press, let alone on popular television series. Now, vampire fans worldwide (admittedly, not the typical APICS Operations Management Now audience) are learning about supply chain risk.  

Over the last year, APICS has been working with various organizations to encourage students to pursue careers in supply chain and operations management. Our partners in these initiatives include The Manufacturing Institute, Supply Chain Talent Academic Initiative, and Manufacturing Skill Standards Council. We have met with high school teachers, college professors, and career counselors and have learned that one of biggest barriers to attracting students to supply chain management is lack of awareness.

So how can True Blood help? Seeing supply chain story lines on popular television shows creates interest in supply chain management. It makes it cool. It goes where we, as industry professionals and association representatives, cannot easily go__into a young person’s consciousness.  

What’s next? Supply chain superheroes? It could happen.

PS. Remember that APICS is offering a new supply chain risk management certificate that can be acquired through attendance at the Risk Management Seminar and risk sessions at the 2012 APICS International Conference & Expo. Perhaps there will be a case study on the Tru Blood supply chain crisis?  

Idea exchange

Now, you can take the APICS Operations Management Now discussion to your social networks on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and the APICS Supply Chain Channel. Be sure to use the hashtag #OMNow and include @Tweet_APICS in any tweets to have your words featured on the APICS homepage.

  • What are some other examples of supply chain references in popular culture?
  • In True Blood, vampires are running out of their supply of synthetic blood, causing them to behave irrationally. Are there any real-world analogues to this situation?
  • How can we engage younger people in supply chain and operations management? What will it take before supply chains become cool? 
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