CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
February 22, 2020
Forward Thinking

A game of Supply Chain Risk

Mars Inc. has found that games are an effective way to teach supply chain risk management and resiliency.

When the pet food, candy, and drink company Mars Inc. wants to start a discussion with internal or external supply chain partners about supply chain risk management and resiliency, it basically holds a game night.

Chris de Wolfe, director of risk management, admits that initially he was skeptical that card and board games could help launch a supply chain risk management program. But he has since found that simulation activities are the best way to identify pain points and open people's eyes to the risks around them.

De Wolfe and Sean S. Murphy, CEO of the business continuity consulting company Lootok Ltd., described two of the games that they use during a breakout session at the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) 2018 Annual Conference. These games have been used both at local Mars sites as well as with the companies' key vendors.

In Crisis Cards, a player chooses a scenario card from the deck and reads it to the group. An example might be "A fire breaks out in the factory. Two associates are injured, several tons of product is burned, and some critical equipment is damaged." The group then has to decide if it would declare the scenario a crisis and explain their answer. This game is an effective way to start the screening process of identifying possible risks areas and their potential level of impact.

A second game "Attackers & Defenders" is used to help participants identify their most vulnerable, high-impact equipment items. In the game, one team, "the Attackers," try to cause maximum damage to the business by attacking three equipment items. They have to explain why they chose these pieces of equipment and how they would attack them. Meanwhile the Defenders team chooses three pieces of equipment to protect and describes how they would protect them.

De Wolfe describes the game as being like a version of the game Battleship, only for supply chains. "One team is trying to sink the supply chain, and the other is trying to put a resiliency plan in place," he said. "It can get competitive."

The games help the risk management group overcome one of the biggest barriers to the success of their program, according to de Wolfe and Murphy: the belief by local sites that they don't need a supply chain risk management program and that their business continuity plans are good enough.

Susan Lacefield is Executive Editor of CSCMP’s Supply Chain Quarterly.

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