Ways to Thrive: A Workshop on Strategies Amidst Supply Chain Shortages

Mark Wolfe, Executive EMS Advisor to IPC, kicked off CalcuQuote’s 2022 industry conference, Accelerate, with an engaging presentation entitled, “Understanding the Storm.” Addressing supply constraints due to lasting impacts of Covid-19 as well ongoing diplomatic tensions between the U.S. and China, Mark addressed the elephant in the room - unexpected surge in demand. While supply constraints amidst increased demand is hardly a foreign topic to businesses across the electronics industry, it has made for a challenging few years in EMS space, a sentiment echoed by attendees across the board. Rather than dwelling on the negative, Mark’s presentation tackled the difficulties of living within this environment, while offering hope for a brighter future amidst a new normal through resiliency and agility.

Following his initial presentation, Mark facilitated a workshop for Accelerate attendees using his model, Thriving in Practice. Based on the principles of setting high expectations, investing in building relationships, developing design level sourcing strategies, sharing real demand with long-term commitments, creating and maintaining a level playing field, rewarding best performers, and staying stationary to save, this workshop challenged attendees to think through practical methods to thrive amidst supply chain shortages.

Attendees split themselves into six groups and got to work discussing Mark’s model, specifically identifying the top three principles they believed most tangible in terms of helping their businesses thrive. Discussions included identifying needs versus wants, developing concrete action plans, and thinking through best practices. Each group was provided a large presentation board to take notes and work through their thoughts as they engaged in open and lively dialogue with their peers.

While each group varied in their unique approach to applying Mark’s model, patterns and commonalities became increasingly evident when the six groups became one at the end of the workshop to share their results. All six groups agreed on the significance of being proactive - reacting faster and employing creative thinking strategies - to build upon existing programs and keep their businesses trending forward. Other frequently discussed values included building and leveraging strong relationships, working together, and communicating regularly across the spectrum of providers and suppliers. 

Thematically, this workshop personified the core message of Accelerate – cross-organizational collaboration. Attendees came to Dallas from various companies across the electronics spectrum – from EMS providers to OEMs and distributors.  Presentations like Mark’s “Understanding the Storm,” and subsequent workshop, “Ways to Thrive,” served as reminders that all present are facing the same global issues at this moment in time. Only through our shared frustrations and open dialogue to propose future solutions are we able to create tangible progress forward. The past few years have been challenging to say the least, but as Mark said, through resiliency and agility, the future looks a bit brighter.

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