After months of anticipation, Breaking Bad has finally returned to our television screens. As American viewers received their first hit of the latest installment, social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have been inundated with posts from admirers of the show. Contributions from fans have included everything from Breaking-Bad-inspired memes to cake recipes.
Given the vast success of the first half of season 5, this huge response to the most recent episode was to be expected. The critically acclaimed TV series has become an international sensation as each episode now captivates up to 2.9 million viewers. The addictive nature of the drama should therefore make for some truly unmissable television.
So far the story of Breaking Bad has followed Walter White (AKA Heisenberg), and his unlikely partner, Jessie Pinkman as they become emerged in the violent world of drugs. While initially, their trademark blue meth is “cooked” and distributed from a rudimental Winnebago based laboratory, the operation gradually progresses into a multi-million dollar drug empire. As Heisenberg’s operations evolve however, he encounters an increasing diversity of supply chain challenges that would test even the most experienced logistics expert.
While we are not in any way suggesting that you should adopt illegal practices into your supply chain, the multi-award winning television series offers critical insight into one of the most topical supply chain issues at present: collaboration.
In recent times, the theme of collaboration has become an increasingly hot topic as a number of global organizations start to implement collaborative strategies across their supply chain operations. Following a number of high profile scandals, the food industry has been particularly quick to improve collaboration between supply chain partners. While many food businesses including Wal-Mart, Kellogg’s and yum! Brands Inc. have developed stronger partnerships with their suppliers, businesses in other industries have also realized the benefits of developing collaborative supply chain relationships. For instance, the engineering giant Boeing actively encourages participation between businesses across the aerospace industry in order to develop more effective supply chains.
While collaboration offers considerable benefits, as highlighted throughout Breaking Bad, this innovative approach has its problems. For example, as Walt and Jesse expand their operations, they collaborate with several supply chain partners with varying degrees of success. As discovered by Walt, one of the biggest barriers to collaboration is trust. Given the sensitive nature of the drug industry, this is not surprising. Interestingly though, for many real-life businesses, trust can also be a major prohibiting factor when developing collaborative supply chain strategies.
While Heisenberg’s alliances with suppliers and distributors often end violently, adopting a collaborative approach still enabled him to achieve a more stable supply of critical materials as well as expand the distribution of his product into new international markets. This strategic advantage is one that many real life businesses can also enjoy. For instance, in order to ensure that high supply chain standards were upheld, H&M have set up a formal collaborative partnership with the World Wildlife Fund. Unlike any of Heisenberg’s collaborative ventures however, H&M’s partnership also plays a valuable role in developing a more ethically sound operation.
Although Breaking Bad focuses primarily on the dark and often tragic realities of the illicit drugs industry, the hit TV series accurately reflects the typical challenges encountered by perfectly legal organizations. Through considering the pitfalls of collaboration highlighted throughout the fictional drama, perhaps real life businesses could learn a few things about the importance of developing rigid and effective supply chain partnerships.
*Disclaimer: Reference to the drugs industry and the fictional TV Series Breaking Bad are used purely for illustrative purposes. In no way does this blog post or author seek to condone or promote the production, distribution and use of any illegal substance.