Planned Spontaneity and The Next Pandemic

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I was having a civilized lunch with Davide (USRA/NASA), David and Maximiliano (who are co-conspirators with me and Elias – who could not join –  in the course Quantum Integer Programming and Quantum Machine Learning), at Carnegie Museum Cafe, before our evening class, when I got an inbound request (like the one from the CEO of an e-commerce company in A Tale of Two Emails) for help in supply chain management, triggering this in my mind:

If there’s something strange
In your neighborhood supply chain
Who you gonna call?

If there’s something weird
And it don’t look good  plain
Who you gonna call?

“Ghostbusters” is the theme song of the film of the same name, peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, sometime August 1984, staying there for three weeks. Nominated at the 57th Academy Awards for Best Original Song, it lost to Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You”.

Ghostbusters is a supernatural comedy film directed and produced by Ivan Reitman and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. It stars Bill Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis as Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Egon Spengler, respectively, a trio of eccentric parapsychologists who start a ghost-catching business in New York City. It grossed over $295 million on a budget of about $25-30 million.

I coined the phrase Planned Spontaneity in 1997/8, while I was co-editing Quantitative Models for Supply Chain Management, and presented it at the Second Supply Chain Thought Leaders’ Conference, in 1998, outside Brussels (see my post Casablanca, Corsendonk, Como for a Brief History of the conference).

The title of my 2013 article (published just as SAP acquired SmartOps) where I laid down the core principles of modern-day real-world multi-enterprise global supply chain management is:

Planned spontaneity for better product availability.

In 2018, I co-edited Handbook of Healthcare Analytics, and wrote a companion MSOM Forum article and introduced Healthcare Ecosystem Map (HEM) as a framework to better navigate the entangled entities that form US Healthcare.

Indeed, the WSJ Weekend had this interview with Illumina’s CEO:

Regulatory Hurdles Block a Cancer Miracle.

He is talking about – I had written about this in Holy Grail of Holy GrailLiquid Biopsy! Indeed, our paper (accepted in NeurIPS 2021, by the way) is also a finalist – OrganJet won the First Prize in 2015 😊 – for the 2021 Pierskalla Award (research with Kyra Gan, Su Jia and Andrew Li):

Congratulations! We would like to inform you that your paper “Toward a Liquid Biopsy: Greedy Approximation Algorithms for Active Sequential Hypothesis Testing” has been selected as one of the finalists for this year’s INFORMS Pierskalla award. We have received a high number of submissions and your manuscript was distinguished by the committee for its originality and contribution to the field.

Supply Chain Management is meeting Healthcare in 2021.

I have been invited to present at the upcoming Johns Hopkins Conference (October 15, 2021):

Building Resilient Healthcare Supply Chains for the Next Pandemic

I am excited – not only because it brings representatives from HHS, CDC and FDA to speak, and serve on panels, along with us supply chain professors, including my very good friends Chris and David – but also because the event is structured such that after a supply chain presentation by a professor, there is a “policy response” session by the practitioners!  There is way too much shallow analysis and knee-jerk prescriptions to how supply chains should operate, by folks who have utter incomprehension of how real supply chains (and businesses) actually operate, and this event is an opportunity – a welcome antidote to the poison of infantile suggestions that are as unimplementable as they are ineffective – to discuss important concepts and their practical applicability deeply and with sophistication. Thank you Tinglong (and your colleagues) for organizing this event, and for inviting me.

You may have already read about how SmartOps customers – in many different verticals ranging from Medical Devices to Consumer Products (including Food) to Chemicals – managed during the pandemic in Smart(Ops) Manufacturing, about Healthcare Operations Management (HOM) v2.0 in Healthcare 2020  – and about Healthcare Ecosystem Map (HEM) – and practical supply chain research in Inventory Models in Service of Practice, and most recently, glimpsed some of my slides on resilient supply chains in NSF Distinguished Lecture! (Recall that I mentioned Turing Prize winner Geoffrey Hinton in this post, who previously gave a NSF Distinguished  Lecture? He has been selected by fellow University Professors as winner of the Dickson Prize this year.)

I am working on the slides as I post this, streamlining the various practical principles and concepts all together for the Friday presentation. Additionally, I will be presenting a new framework that transcends both Planned Spontaneity and HEM that I believe is appropriate to have handy to be better prepared for the next pandemic – so stay tuned!



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