retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

“We thought we were prepared.”

Think about that phrase for a second and whether you have used it or heard it in your company lately as you’ve dealt with the onslaught of new competition and new demands on your business.

Here’s hoping your answer is “no.”

Last week I heard that phrase from an unexpected source during the annual Food Shippers of America conference. It came from an executive at a major food bank discussing the series of natural calamities that hit the US in 2017, putting unexpected pressure on those important supply networks that aid people in need.

Try to recall: there were three major hurricanes devastating major population centers from Florida to Texas to Puerto Rico. Then there were the wildfires in California followed by mudslides. The combined impact of those disasters was an unparalleled need for and pressure on food banks to help people suddenly left homeless and certainly short of food supplies.

Food banks routinely do a magnificent job in partnership with the food industry and in the process help untold numbers of families. And certainly those same food banks are no strangers to natural disasters because they happen every year. But the combination of events in 2017 (not to mention the series of snow emergencies in the Northeast in early 2018) was almost too much to handle. Hence the comment: “We thought we were prepared.”

As we frequently talk about here on MNB, no one can ever be fully prepared. The impossible seems to happen with increasing frequency. Virtually every week the news has some stunning revelation.

It’s not just about competition or shoppers. It can be food safety, technology preparedness, security or any one of a thousand different challenges. Think of all the articles that appear here regularly on MNB about emerging and unforeseen challenges.

The truth is, no one can be prepared for everything and no one should ever think they are. That’s the real mistake.

After all, it would be impossible, incredibly expensive and completely exhausting to be fully prepared for everything. Unexpected things and certainly unintended consequences have happened as long as civilization has existed. The difference today is the speed with which those changes happen, which in turn means we all need to accelerate the pace at which we evolve and adapt.

But that’s no excuse for inaction or complacency. We simply need accept that we’ll never be prepared for everything. New storms are always coming and we must always be as ready as we can be.

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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