Unprecedented Chaos Provides Career Opportunities

A friend just sent me a link regarding the west coast dockworkers contract that expires in June.   The expiration brings with it the risk of a strike or lockout which would close west coasts ports and add to an almost unbelievable string of chaotic events that have been impacting global supply chains.  

For the past few years, we have been living in a world of chaos.  Inflation, shortages, and geopolitical risks have all risen to levels not seen since the 1970’s.  The only difference is, in the 1970’s supply chains were local.  Now we live in a global footprint of customers and suppliers.  The global footprint multiplies the complexity companies face when dealing with the chaos. 

So, we are truly living in unprecedented challenging times.   But these challenges also provide the opportunity for career growth.   

I have a book on my shelf, The Lessons of Experience, that was part of executive training I received years ago at Ford.  One of the major premises of the book was that careers are not so much shaped by routine activities.  Instead, careers are forged in the crucible of chaos where innovative thinking, skills and processes are required to succeed. 

For me, the premise of the book seemed true.  Early in my career at Ford I found myself managing supplier quality and production issues that threatened production of new vehicles: 

  • 1986 Ford Taurus – quality issues on shocks stops vehicle production  
  • 1989 Thunderbird – capacity and quality issues on wheel spindles risks production  
  • 1990 F-Series – transmission production shortfall limits production of F150 

Each of these experiences and others like them, gave me the opportunity to learn more, develop new skills/process and build relationships strengthened by mutual accomplishments.   

The current and ongoing chaos we face can be viewed with a sense of dread or a set of challenges to be conquered.  How we face the challenges/chaos will have significant impact on our careers in the short and long terms. 

As a service provider we get to see how many organizations and individuals are managing the chaos.  Those navigating most successfully have the following: 

  • Teamwork – first and foremost, they leverage the skills and knowledge of their organizations 
  • Proactive – they are already thinking about the risk to their supply chain should a west coast dock worker’s strike or lockout occur. 
  • Data driven – have readily accessible data to access impacts and develop actions 
  • Action and process oriented – they are developing multiple options using data and objective criteria to chart a course of action 
  • Skills – they are constantly assessing the skills they and their organization possesses, filling gaps as necessary 

In 10 years, those who viewed the current chaos as a challenge to be met will look back at the skills developed, ideas implemented, and relationships forged from meeting the challenge head on.


If you are interested in learning how to improve your career, take a look at three training programs that Advanced Purchasing Dynamics has to offer:

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