Agility is often mentioned but seldom defined or clearly illustrated. This case discusses UNICEF’s response to the sudden disruption of its aid supply chain to Yemen after the bombing started in 2015. It illustrates how a forwarding hub was quickly established in Djibouti and dhow vessels were used to reach small Yemeni ports from there. The case analyzes the supply chain, the organizational and strategic aspects of agility and discusses how UNICEF can further develop its strategic agility as an organizational capability. It can be used in supply chain and strategy classes, as well as classes on change management and fast decision making processes in organizations.
Part A outlines the events leading up to the Yemen Crisis and presents the challenges faced by UNICEF. Part B then describes UNICEF’s response to the crisis. Part B is restricted to instructors but can be distributed to students as well. The same goes for the supplementary teaching note, which gives an analysis of the response with regard to strategic agility.

Teaching objectives

Agility is required in dynamic environments but poorly understood. This case tries to explain how an organization has built multiple elements of agility in its supply chain and organization over the years and has been able to deploy them fully in a recent crisis. It explains what the basic building blocks of agility are and how an organization can develop an overall strategic capability by combining these components into a strong competitive advantage. The setting is a crisis in humanitarian aid due to a conflict and the organization is UNICEF.

  • Humanitarian logistics
  • Emergency aid
  • Strategic agility
  • Supply chain management
  • Change management
  • Sudden change
  • Humanitarian organization
  • Agility
  • Humanitarian relief
  • Disaster relief
  • Strategic sensitivity
  • Collective commitment
  • Resource fluidity
  • Q21718
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