In an era where change is the only constant, the challenge is not just about possessing the right set of skills or knowledge — it’s about cultivating a mindset that embraces adaptability, resilience, and growth. Nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of supply chains, where disruptions and uncertainties have become routine occurrences. This mindset shift is precisely what Dr. Wolfgang Partsch and Gene Tyndall explore in their latest collaboration, Breakthrough Supply Chains ( We reached out to these pioneers in the field of supply chain management for this exclusive interview, where we delve into their insights and inspirations, shedding light on how their work addresses the evolving demands of today's supply chain landscape.

As seasoned experts with decades of combined experience, Partsch and Tyndall offer a unique perspective on the pressing issues facing supply chain leaders today. With Breakthrough Supply Chains, they aim to provide a comprehensive guide for navigating the complexities of modern supply chains while emphasizing the importance of adopting breakthrough thinking to thrive in an increasingly volatile environment.

In our Q&A session with the authors, we explore their inspiration behind the book, their perspectives on key topics covered, and some actionable takeaways for supply chain leaders.

Can you share the inspiration behind writing Breakthrough Supply Chains and how it addresses the evolving challenges in the supply chain landscape?

Partsch and Tyndall: Our inspiration for writing this book – shared by our four co-authors – was based on its perfect timing. Not only are supply chains more visible to the public eye than ever, but they are now a priority for all companies and public policy officials around the world. With this new visibility and importance, however, has come a new priority for supply chain excellence. Yet a lack of common definitions of what supply chains really are, and why they are so important to business, governments, and societies has evaded many leaders.

Further, there is an important need for all stakeholders to understand and manage supply chains for their organizations to thrive and prosper in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world. The evolution of supply chains over the past three decades has produced the growth and expansion of complex, multitiered, and interconnected networks that span the globe. This new decade must focus on enlightenment and knowledge if the world and its nations are to reap the benefit of resilient and high-performing supply chains.

Breakthrough Supply Chains emphasizes the importance of resilience, agility, and flexibility in supply chain strategies. Can you elaborate on how organizations can cultivate these attributes to thrive in a volatile environment?

Partsch and Tyndall: Resilience, agility, and flexibility are separate terms, but are interrelated when they become supply chain goals. The many disruptions in cross-border goods flows experienced in recent years, and exacerbated by the global COVID pandemic, has made the management of risks a high priority. While the large-scale globalization for low production costs in China and other countries has in many cases lowered the cost of goods sold, it has come with a price in national economic and security policies. Efficient supply chains have been effective when they were relatively simple in structure and the impacts were mostly local. Today’s supply chains, however, are complex, lengthy, often concentrated, multi-tiered, and interconnected to the point where risks are more prevalent.

In our book, we discuss the point that supply chains were “built to break”, and the lack of risk planning and mitigation has become obvious. There are at least 20 risk elements which require planning to mitigate. Resilience, therefore, refers to the adaptive capability of the supply chain to prepare for unexpected events and then quickly adjust to sudden disruptions (shocks) that can negatively impact businesses and societies.

Achieving resilience is a longer-term objective, requiring smart choices on capital allocations for supply chain re-designs. Agility and flexibility refer to a company’s capability for decision-making speed in order to minimize “time-to-recovery” (TTR) or even “time-to-survive” (TTS). We advocate adopting data-driven supply chains with end-to-end focuses using “breakthrough thinking,” as discussed in our book.

Moreover, sustainability has emerged as another corporate goal and supply chains have a substantial role in contributing to environmental protection.

The concept of "breakthrough thinking" is central to the book. Could you provide some examples that illustrate how breakthrough thinking can be applied to supply chain planning strategies?

Partsch and Tyndall: Breakthrough thinking is the theme of our book. Supply chains are a crucial inflection point. Under the “new normal” they are required to operate in an uncertain and variable economic and geopolitical environment with risks that have potentially high impacts. Breakthrough thinking, therefore, encompasses: (a) innovative thinking and constructs; (b) structures and concepts that may not be new, but have not been implemented; and (c) concepts that form the theory of effective supply chain management and have largely been ignored by many business decision and public policy makers.

There are four principles we advocate for exploiting breakthrough thinking in supply chain planning and execution today and tomorrow:

  • Design supply chains from end-to-end from the customer back and from suppliers forward.
  • Treat data as a corporate asset and develop a data, knowledge, and technology strategy that encompasses the end-to-end supply chain and its trading partners and service providers.
  • Collaborate across functions and supply chain trading partners.
  • Manage talent and knowledge in the organization.

Critical business processes such as S&OP (Sales and Operations Planning), S&OE (Execution), or Integrated Business Planning (IBP) can be improved by enhancing people, process, and technology which are fundamental to meeting customer demand and supply assurance. Breakthrough thinking applied to S&OP has led to advances in both planning and execution, and more is needed for this basic process to be a critical success factor in today’s and tomorrow’s supply chains.

In one of the chapters, you focus on information, data, and analytics, emphasizing the importance of implementing an effective data strategy. Can you share your insights on how an effective data strategy contributes to building a digital supply chain, and what key considerations should organizations keep in mind?

Partsch and Tyndall: It has been stated that “data is the new currency of business and supply chains”.  In this chapter we discuss the roles of timely and accurate data, data management, effective data strategy, technologies and systems, and advanced analytics and artificial intelligence (AI). While there is increased focus on the role of the digital supply chain in driving revenue and transforming the business, there is substantial confusion about WHY, WHAT, and HOW.

We discuss an effective data strategy from the points of view of governance, the value of data, management, people and culture, and analytics/AI. Without an effective data strategy that includes master data management, end-to-end visibility, relationships with trading partners and suppliers, a vision of the future supply chain, and appropriate management actions; the digital transformations have gotten “stuck”, which unfortunately most companies have experienced.

The critical next phase is “the Spatial Web”, which includes the Internet of Everything and All things, which makes this business goal even more complex and even more important. The key considerations for organizations to keep in mind (and manage) involve creating a vision and program for the comprehensive and strategic priorities – not only for the functional applications, but also for the overall concerns in need of business acumen, end-to-end costs and investment returns, and supply chain financing. The Effective Data Strategy is at the center of all these concerns. Data timeliness and accuracy, ownership and accountability, completeness, metrics, and last but hardly least – the quality of Governance: The Chief Data Officer.

How do you envision the future of supply chains, considering the rapid changes in global business and technological advances? What trends or innovations do you anticipate shaping the future landscape of supply chain?

Partsch and Tyndall: Predicting the future of supply chains is interesting, but questions raised by VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) in general conditions and situations make any such predictions or scenarios debatable. The mission critical need is to understand the major trends and issues facing organizations. We believe there are several major trends we see influencing supply chain redesigns and options for the flows of products, information, cash, and work. These are:

  • The global growth of eCommerce
  • Continued disruptions due to climate change, and limitations of land, resources, and valuable rare minerals
  • Increasing geopolitical risks
  • The pace of technology development
  • The increasing importance for companies and policy makers to think integrated and creatively
  • The increasing demands of more than eight billion customers on the planet
  • And talent will be at a premium!

These trends will be over-reaching the normal factors of better demand forecasting, capital efficiency, supply assurance, process efficiencies, and other value creation drivers. And, of course, the absolute need for continuing innovation.

Finally, what are the key insights and takeaways you hope supply chain leaders will gain from reading Breakthrough Supply Chains?

Partsch and Tyndall: We developed this book for the benefit of supply chain leaders and service or solution providers, public policy makers, and those interested in learning more about what supply chains are, what they do, and why they do it. On top of these basics, we added insights on trends, principles, and breakthrough thinking. For supply chain leaders, we include questions to take away that require thinking about what their supply chains should do to deliver performance that places them among their industry leaders.

Further, we include breakthrough thinking that follows the structured process of goal setting, current state assessment, strategic choices among the right options, and plans to implement and execute. These thinking points are organized around the chapter topic such that a comprehensive list is provided.  No longer are 5-year strategic plans effective – the pace of business moves way too quickly. Today’s leaders recognize that long range goals represent 3-years, and short-term objectives are needed for 1 year’s targets. 

Our questions for leaders drive planning and execution, while breakthrough thinking drives goal-setting and strategic choices. Supply chain planning is overly complex, and execution is continually challenging. Our book helps leaders to plan and guide their mission, while being cognizant of resources, realities, and capabilities. Their complete measurement of risks and progress, as well as decision points, or gates, will enable leaders to lead, while smart managers will deliver the changes required by breakthrough thinking. This will make companies more competitive. In today’s world, supply chains compete more than companies!



Dr. Wolfgang M. Partsch

About Dr. Wolfgang M. Partsch

Dr. Wolfgang M. Partsch is Managing Partner of Dr. Partsch & Partner. He is former Chairman of the Global Supply Chain Network of Ernst & Young. He is a pioneer and internationally known expert in Supply Chain Management and was recently honored for his achievements with the awards of TOP 10 Supply Chain Influencers and TOP 50 Who´s Who of the Industries.



About Mr. Gene Tyndall

About Gene Tyndall

Gene Tyndall is currently Senior Partner with eMATE Consulting. He is a former President of Ryder Global Supply Chain Solutions, and a senior partner with the Ernst & Young Global Supply Chain Management Consulting Practice. He is an internationally known expert in Supply Chain Strategy and Technology, and global Logistics Management.