In 2006, I read a book: The Resilient Enterprise by Yossi Sheffi, professor and director of the Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL) at MIT. Without using such words, he demonstrates how tail risk can impact and sometimes end up redefining companies. The book includes examples of several businesses that faced an extreme crisis. Some went down in flames; the others rose from the ashes stronger and more resilient, both operationally and strategically.

In 2007, Professor Sheffi connected me with some people at CTL. Over the course of the next 18 months, I had off-and-on discussions with some of their staff members and students; attended seminars where I met senior logistics, risk management, and operations people, primarily ...

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