Left Brain vs. Right Brain: About the end-to-end supply chain

A picture depicting the left and right sides of the brain and the different characteristics of each. The picture compares the brain to an end-to-end supply chain

Left Brain vs. Right Brain: About the end-to-end supply chain

When it comes to creating an end-to-end supply chain, the structure of the human brain can reveal a lot. Specifically, the lateralisation of the brain into left and right sides. But what is lateralisation?

You may have heard the theory that if you are a left-brained person, you are predominantly highly analytical and methodical in your thinking. Whereas, if you are a right-brained person, you are predominantly creative and artistic.

We know that the two sections of the brain have distinct functions, and this was first noticed when patients with damage to specific parts of their heads would lose certain cognitive abilities yet remain effective at others. Doctors and scientists were able to identify the damaged parts of the brain and associate them with specific brain functions and so work out that the brain was divided into segments.

A picture depicting the left and right sides of the brain and the different characteristics of each. The picture compares the brain to an end-to-end supply chain

Although lateralisation has been proven to be true, the idea that some people are purely left-brained, and some are purely right-brained, has not.

Instead, people use both sides of their brain in largely equal measures and each hemisphere is connected by the corpus callosum: a wide nerve tract with connective fibres.

The corpus callosum, and the two hemispheres of the brain, are an extremely helpful framework for the design and implementation of an end-to-end supply chain. In this article, we are going to explore why.

Data Analysis

A supply chain is a lot like a human brain in terms of information dispersal and the segmented structure. Within an organisation, there are multiple departments with vastly different functions. Despite the differences, they are all working with the express aim of improving the performance of the organisation.

The process that connects each section of an end-to-end supply chain is the rapid and seamless spread of information.

Availability of timely data and actionable insights for effective decision making serves as the supply chain’s very own corpus callosum – a nerve tract that operates as a rapid information highway.

Every organisation has its own corpus callosum. The effectiveness of this connective function is usually what makes the difference between a dysfunctional supply chain and an effective supply chain.

For example, many organisations might opt for manual data analysis. In this process, data is collected manually by an individual or several individuals and collated into a CSV or Excel file. Then, to collate these separate files, which have probably been created with different formats, values must be removed, changed, or repurposed.

Data analysis of an end-to-end supply chain network.

This is a long and tiresome process and generally by the time the data is collated and any insights become available, things have moved on in the real world and hence its ‘actionability’ index is low.

Other organisations may opt for a data analysis solution that provides self-service data preparation in a largely automated process. Insights appear on intuitive dashboards and reports can be customised endlessly to analyse various business functions.

This requires technology and software coupled with a holistic design of the end-to-end supply chain that delivers to the organisation’s strategy and customer proposition.

The importance of creative, right-brain thinking, is vital to supply chain management

We know that end-to-end supply chains act as functioning brains operating seamlessly and, in a manner conducive to integration and cooperation.


The brain requires the analytical left side, the creative right side, and the analysis and spread of information conducted by the corpus callosum. The end-to-end supply chain is no different.

The left-side of the supply chain are the methodical processes and strategies that are analysed and perfected between departments. The right-side of the supply chain are the ideas and models created by experts to improve on the processes and strategies already in place. We would call this right side as the ‘art of supply chain’ as compared to the left side which is the ‘science of supply chain’.

Frequently, organisations and supply chains need to react to unplanned or unforeseen events and must function analogous to the right side to find creative solutions – as opposed to the steady state left side. We are not suggesting that this is a free for all and undisciplined venture in the name of being creative. For the successful organisation, it will be grounded in facts and actionable insights from data across the end to end supply chain, coupled with the ability to join the dots in an intuitive manner.

No Comments

Post A Comment