During this extreme and difficult situation the world is going through, it is natural that our main concern and thoughts are exclusively about the present, about people and their destinies. We cannot ignore this complex reality and move away, even for a moment, from a global situation that has been totally unforeseen.
What really matters right now is defeating the virus and our most urgent actions must be aimed at preserving the well-being of our society and the health of those around us. However, at the same time we could start to review our past actions to avoid repeating mistakes and imagine a future that is already on the way with a clear goal of creating better conditions for us and the generations to come.
I personally feel the need to do so and hope that this will help us to find more easily the path that will lead us to a sustainable and more balanced future. In my particular case I can make my contribution to the sector in which I have developed my entire professional career, the textile and fashion industry.
A new and unknown crisis
From the business and social-economic point of view, I could only compare this situation with that experienced in the last global financial crisis of 2008; the so-called subprime mortgage crisis. At that time our sourcing and supply management was centralized in Asia, more precisely with operation and production locations in China, India, Bangladesh and Vietnam and commercially centralized by 80% in the Spanish market and the rest in other European countries. Although there are certain similarities between both situations, I observe more and substantial differences that give this current crisis its own DNA and for which we will have to seek tailored solutions.
The problem that will arise when we try to deal with this next great economic recession and its added social crisis is the same as that which has appeared with the virus, the lack of knowledge and protocols for acting on something that is unknown. Surely, for some time we will not be clear about the procedures to follow and we will need a reasonable period of time to obtain the cure, as well as the right decisions which will relieve us and bring us back to normal.
In future articles we will have the possibility to deepen the analysis of this new situation, the future consequences and the strategies that we will have to adopt to minimize its negative effects in each of the production origins. Right now, I don’t want to distance myself from the main objective I have planned for this post.
A foundational question and answer
Since the beginning of this crisis, I have been observing a series of common questions among the many and varied queries that we receive from the media, from professionals in the sector with whom I share information, exchange opinions and debate in search of solutions to the new and innumerable problems that the Coronavirus-COVID19 is generating as it passes through the different manufacturing countries, while it moves through the supply chain. Of course, each and every one of these questions is substancially important, but there is one that I consider the most relevant at this time in terms of reorganizing and re-planning.
I think that is the fundamental question. In fact, it is better defined by the adjective ‘foundational’ because the next steps and the direction we will take in the post-crisis corporate strategy depend on the answer to this question. That answer will be the basis for operational and management decisions, the ideas to be implemented and the profile of the professionals to be selected and recruited in our companies. The future restructuring of the organizations and even the need to create new departments, possibly unknown to date, depends on it.
A new supply
With respect to the area of sourcing and procurement, this same answer will generate the actions and strategies that will be directed towards one or another sourcing origin. It will give different relevance to each of the options and we will have to choose, for example, between a strategy of multimodal supply (smart sourcing) or opt exclusively for production in low-cost Asian origins. On the other hand, it could mean choosing to manufacture in nearby countries, using automation and robotization. Or perhaps this same answer could be the driving force behind a definitive process of neo-relocalization of fashion that “provides tailored supply” to the new demand model, banishing the old supply model once and for all.
I sincerely believe that the following question and its corresponding answer have the power to help and guide us to make our future destiny transparent:
What will the new world look like after the Coronavirus-COVID19 crisis?
I would like to complement this first question with a second query that can also help guide us towards our new immediate future, which, by the way, will have nothing to do with our most recent past:
What value contribution will this new world need from us?
It is essential that we understand what this new world will be like, what it will demand of us and that we have the capacity and the lucidity to reformulate our value proposal according to real and specific needs.
I hope that together we will begin to build a future that is even better than our past. This is a new opportunity. Let’s seize it!
Best wishes to each and every one of you! Take care!