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All the fun happens between the galaxies… and companies!

In the grand tally of cosmic constituents, galaxies are what typically get counted. Latest estimates show that the observable universe may contain a hundred billion of them. Just because galaxies are in your face, and just because they would have us believe that nothing else matters, the universe may nonetheless contain hard-to-detect things between the galaxies. Maybe those things are more interesting, or more important to the evolution of the universe, than the galaxies themselves.

All the fun in the universe – such as runaway stars that explode, million-degree X-ray-emitting gas, dark matter, subatomic particles, ubiquitous gas clouds and mysterious quantum vacuum energy – happens between the galaxies rather than within them. Yes, intergalactic space is, and will forever be, where the action is…

…writes an American astrophysicist and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson. Need I say more? Every single supply chain professional working in the manufacturing ecosystem recognize what deGrasse Tyson is writing about.

Just because the companies are in our faces, and just because it’s humane to concentrate in to ourselves, we probably miss the most crucial capabilities that could give our company an unfair competitive advantage – the complementary capabilities of our supplier companies.

The space between companies is a grey area. There are different rules in a customer-supplier-relationship compared to the rules that exist inside a company. It’s not easy to find an optimal governance model between hierarchical authority, pricing principles and relational trust. Furthermore, what would be the optimal structure to organise a bilateral relationship?

It doesn’t need any talent to measure suppliers’ performance with key metrics like OTD, COPQ and Lead time. The talent is needed to support the suppliers to hit their targets and utilise their complementary capabilities to achieve something innovative in value creation towards the customers.

All the opportunities and fun in the manufacturing ecosystem – such as reflective trust, boundary spanning, environmental uncertainty, asymmetric information, asset specific investments, bounded rationality – exist between the companies rather than within them. Should we concentrate on it in the future?

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