Using Einstein's Theory to Innovate the Supply Chain


Companies spend significant sums of monies on R & D each year in the hope of finding innovative solutions that will provide competitive advantage. Supply Chain professionals are often challenged to come up with innovative ideas by working closely with vendors as part of their annual targets (Value Add).

Yet, coming up with innovative ideas that will provide tangible benefits is no small task. Perhaps we need to start thinking out of the box, looking at the bigger picture, generating ideas and then scaling them back to provide innovative Supply Chain solutions.

Many of us have come across Einstein’s theory of Relativity first published in the early 1900s. What if we could use Einstein’s theory and apply it to the Supply Chain? The theory was summarised in a very simple equation of E=MC2 linking Energy E, Mass M and Speed of Light C. In essence it can be summarised by 3 points.

  1. Every time you measure an object's velocity, or its momentum, or how it experiences time, it's always in relation to something else.

  2. The speed of light is the same no matter who measures it or how fast the person measuring it is going.

  3. Third, nothing can go faster than light.

The applications of this theory are many. For example we would not have Satellites, GPS, Mobile Communication or nuclear weapons today if it wasn't for this theory.

Now imagine drawing on the parallels of Einstein's theory and applying this to the Supply Chain to innovate. What if we could find the relationship between Innovation I, Cost C, Vendor type V and Competitive Advantage CA? The possibilities are endless as are the benefits. Alternatively, companies may wish to look at the relationship between Innovation I, Economic Cost EC and Value V. Again such a relationship could lead to Competitive Advantage.

In conclusion, although there is no simple answer to finding a relationship between these variables, it does leave the door open for further research. In any event, for Supply Chains to be sustainable in the future, we must think out of the box and contribute towards helping companies achieve competitive advantage.


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