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The term “Waffle House Index,” was first coined by DHS Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director W. Craig Fugate in the wake of the Joplin, Mo. tornado May 22, 2011. The index, based on the extent of operations and service at the Waffle House restaurant following a storm, is meant (according to Fugate) to indicate how prepared a business is in case of a natural disaster occuring in its general area of location.

However it is also referenced in courses on supply chain risk management conducted by Panos Kouvelis, PhD, the Emerson Distinguished Professor of Operations and Manufacturing Management and director of the Olin’s Boeing Center for Technology, Information, and Manufacturing at the Washington University in St. Louis, MO.

He teaches his students about what he calls the “Top Four” companies in supply chain risk management — Lowe’s Companies Inc., The Home Depot Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and Waffle House Inc. — and how they are role models when it comes to disaster preparedness.

Getting back to the “Waffle House Index”, Kouvelis states, “If the Waffle House is open and serving food and has a full menu, then the index is green. If it is open but has a limited menu, it’s yellow, and if it isn’t open, then it is red,”

Disaster management and risk management in global supply chains can actually be a competitive advantage,” Kouvelis says. “It’s not pure risk minimization. You have to think of it as an opportunity to get ahead of the game by being better prepared.”

Click here to view a video where Kouvelis discusses these issues in more detail.

And, if applicable, please pass along to those global supply chain risk and crisis management team members in your organization.

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