Mad Cows and Angry Peasants

Identifying Risks within Your Global Footprint


Risks are a part of every firm’s global footprint. In this article, we take a lighthearted look at Federated Global Footprints and risk identification.


It has become almost impossible to turn on TV or radio, explore news on the web, or have a casual cocktail conversation (kind of like a water cooler conversation, only the drink is stronger) without a “global woe” topic coming up. You know what examples of “global woe” topics are: pandemic, terrorism fears, peasant uprisings, global warming, energy dependence, border issues, etc.

So, I began to wonder what the culmination of these topics might mean to all of you out there who are responsible for making decisions in your enterprises relative to your Global Footprint. Not to mention the complexities that are introduced by the Federated Enterprise – e.g. A Federated Enterprise has a Federated Global Footprint. This means that your Federated Global Footprint is a result of your supplier and sourcing network decisions, your manufacturing network decisions, your partnering/outsourcing network decisions, your customer facing or channel strategy, and your new market growth promises to the Board/Investor Community.

You Know Something’s Wrong when…

And, since I am quite fond of both Dave Letterman and Jeff Foxworthy, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at risk identification within the Federated Global Footprint via the typical “Letterman/Foxworthy” style:

The Top 10 of – You know you have identified a large risk in your global footprint when…..

  • You turn on the Weather Channel only to find a special feature about the location of your largest mfg facility being in the newly defined “tsunami alley”.
  • You had to install white noise systems in two of your newest retail facilities due to customer complaints of noise from local native war drums.
  • During a tour of your new Transportation Provider’s distribution and fleet center, you notice that the head of security’s name is: Ahkmed Mohammed Al-Zaweri.
  • Lou Dobbs airs a special on “Holes in the Borders” and in the background you see one of your warehouses as well as your warehouse manager who is assisting illegal immigrants through the hole in the border fence.
  • The port that your two largest suppliers use is showcased in the latest TSA training video highlighting container and vessel security violations, risks, and bad processes.
  • Mad Cow disease is discovered in two herds near the geographic region where you and two of your channel partners just launched a co-promotional deal on a new product line – frozen beef dinners.
  • You arrive overseas at the site of your new World Wide Customer Service & Support Center only to see in the local newspaper that the minimum wage has been increased by 200%.
  • The Army Corp of Engineers sends a notice to you that they have been called in ASAP to inspect the levees near your corporate data processing center.
  • The power bill increases at your World Wide Customer Education Center by 150% due to the newly constructed nuclear reactor next door blocking the afternoon sunlight.
  • A migratory flock of wild geese are discovered coughing and dying in the front lawn of your corporate headquarters.

So, those were pretty funny weren’t they? Well, they were a lighter look at the realities that are being faced daily. But, no they aren’t funny when they happen to you. The question that is being asked constantly in board rooms, strategy meetings, partner relationship meetings, sourcing contract discussions, capital spend meetings, etc. is a simple one: HOW DO WE ENSURE EARLY IDENTIFICATION AND MITIGATION OF THESE FEDERATED GLOBAL FOOTPRINT RISKS!!

Minimizing Risk

As you would expect, there is not a simple cut and dried answer. But, there are a few things that can be put into place to minimize any of these 10 things from happening to you. Here are the suggestions:

  1. Put appropriate redundancy and associated backup/recovery plans in place. This is especially important in the corporate data center example, but is also important for all critical elements in your footprint.
  2. Task a new organization or existing one to “watch the weather”, global warming trends and impacts, with associated CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) activities that can be done locally and globally to reduce the speed with which global warming is occurring. Then act upon their recommendations as well as include them in ANY capital building request that is considered by you, your suppliers, or partners.
  3. Ensure that all supplier and partner (transportation, channel, etc.) contracts contain requirements for ongoing reviews, approvals of site and associated port locations. Both current and future plans should be included in the reviews.
  4. Put an ongoing process in place that includes regular briefings from local authorities regarding wage and other key commerce plans, as well as periodic briefings from the State Department as to our “friend/foe/evil doer” ratings for any country that you, your suppliers or partners may be expanding to or considering any capital investment in.
  5. Task an organization or group to create, implement, and periodically test thorough Pandemic, Terrorism (Biological, Nuclear, and Chemical), and weather related disaster plans.

If you have an interesting Federated Global Footprint anecdote that could have made this top 10 list, please share it with me at:

Good luck, and remember to put your heart and sole (soul) into your Federated Global Footprint decisions so that the Bird Flu doesn’t make that footprint “pigeon-toed”!

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