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The big picture...


This is a well-known image. At first glance, it’s just a collection of ‘blobs’ - but if you look more carefully and focus on the relationship between the blobs, a picture is revealed.

So it is with the global networks of organisations that manufacture our products. If the blobs are the circles used to represent organisations in 'supply-chain mapping' reports, it is the relationship between the blobs that produces the picture. Sometimes these relationships are made clear in the diagram - as a line between two circles.

What then does the line mean? The two blobs are related in some way – they supply each other with something, but what and when, how often and why?

In the Gestalt illustration above there are no lines – that’s the point, it’s up to us to ‘join the dots’. Some people can’t, some see different things, others have never tried. If we are to harness the power of global trade to address some of the our most pressing challenges, we need to draw the lines - and know precisely what they mean. We don’t have enough shared knowledge or experience to truly understand the picture without.