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The case for applying systems thinking to global supply chain management
‘Systems thinking’ is an engineering discipline designed to improve the performance of any type of system by leveraging the interactions that take place between its component parts. Because it focuses on the interdependencies that exist among the elements that comprise a system’s structure, as well as the feedback loops that occur within it, systems thinking is ideal for application to the field of supply chain management. Whereas the principles of systems thinking can be seen in supply chain simulations such as ‘the beer game’, its use has not kept up with the complexities inherent in globalisation. It is the objective of this paper to reintroduce systems thinking to global trade professionals and demonstrate how the application of its tenets to supply chain management can yield order-of-magnitude advances in operational outcomes, supplier relations, customer satisfaction, corporate citizenship and financial results.
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Dan Gardner is President of Trade Facilitators, Inc. (TFI), a Los Angeles-based consulting company dedicated to the fields of global supply chain management, logistics and trade compliance. Prior to founding TFI, Dan worked in the third party logistics industry where he held senior roles that included president of Latin America for Exel Global Logistics, president of Ocean World Lines and SVP USA with DHL Global Forwarding. Dan’s activities at TFI focus on consulting with beneficial cargo owners, as well as providing strategic, operational and commercial advice to technology start-ups in the logistics and supply chain space. Dan also serves as chairman of the advisory board for STG Logistics, the largest bonded container freight station operator in the US. In addition to his professional experience, Dan has been an adjunct professor of supply chain management throughout his career. In 2002, Dan was selected as ‘Professor of the Year’ in the Masters of International Business Program at Florida International University and in 2014 he earned the ‘Top Instructor’ distinction at the California State University Long Beach Center for International Trade and Transportation. Dan remains on the faculties of CSULB, Georgia Tech and Long Beach City College. A native of Lynn, Massachusetts, Dan holds an MBA from the University of Miami and is a licensed customs broker in the US. Dan has also been certified in production and inventory management (CPIM) by the American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS), holds a black belt in Six Sigma and earned a certification by the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) as a physical security professional. During his career, Dan has travelled to 50 countries, having lived in Colombia and Mexico for a total of five years.
CitationGardner, Dan (2021, September 1). The case for applying systems thinking to global supply chain management. In the Journal of Supply Chain Management, Logistics and Procurement, Volume 4, Issue 1.