The New (Ab)normal: Reshaping Business and Supply Chain Strategy Beyond Covid-19

Having read Yossi Sheffi’s wonderful “The Resilient Enterprise” some years ago, I had high hopes for this book.  Sadly it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

The book is organised in six sections and, for me, the most useful content is contained in the second (“Living with Uncertainty”) and fourth (“Supply Chains for the Future”) sections.  I will discuss these two sections below.  I’m afraid that the rest of the book is somewhat disappointing, as Sheffi appears to get dragged into areas in which he is not an expert.  These include:

  • An account of the pandemic that was clearly written in 2020, whilst Covid-19 was still rampant;
  • Guidance for Covid-safe working which, once again, was written in the midst of the pandemic; and
  • Discussion of broader political and governmental issues.

However, in the second and fourth sections, Sheffi’s real expertise in supply chain strategy is once again in evidence.  The chapters on dealing with fluctuating supply and fluctuating demand are excellent and provide guidance that is of use way beyond simply dealing with the current situation.  Later on he also tackles head-on the widespread criticism of Just-in-Time inventory strategies; arguing that the experience of Covid-19 identifies ways to improve JIT rather than discard it.

All in all, the rush to get this book out means that it will probably be superseded, as an analysis of the specific issues emerging from Covid-19, by later accounts with more perspective.  It does make a more general contribution towards a better understanding of supply chain continuity; but I would unequivocally direct people to “The Resilient Enterprise” before reading this one.

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