Webster's Dictionary defines “resilience” as the ability to recover quickly from illness, change or misfortune, and it defines “sustainability” as a business process capable of being continued with minimal long-term effect on the environment. These two areas of focus as applied to supply chain management may appear mutually exclusive. In practice, however, there are many advantages to blending the two when developing a comprehensive international supply chain strategy.

The importance of building a resilient strategy has been known to the military for centuries. The Prussian general and military strategist Karl von Clausewitz, in 1832 outlined the fundamentals for building a resilient strategy that are as relevant today as they were back then. Von Clausewitz said that:

  1. Strategy is the evolution of a central idea through continuing changing circumstances.
  2. Detailed planning often fails because of the inevitable frictions encountered.
  3. Try to set broad objectives and be flexible enough to seize unforeseen opportunities.

Centuries earlier Sun Tzu in The Art of War said that the secret to winning is not so much in having a specific action plan, but to be flexible enough to put almost any plan into motion in order to meet changing conditions on the ground.1 As we have discussed in previous chapters, the situation on the ground in China is always changing and companies doing business there need ...

Get The Shipping Point: The Rise of China and the Future of Retail Supply Chain Management now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.