Supply Chain Management – Urgent and Important

Business planning for a growing supply chain plays with your brain.

It was 3 o’clock in the afternoon on Memorial Day, the kids were down for a nap, I had just finished cleaning up after the BBQ, and the wife was curled up with another episode of her latest go-to show. Besides the low hum of the AC, the house was quiet. By all accounts, a normal human should curl up and let slowly drift off to sleep.  But then again I am managing the supply chain for a business that is growing at 40% year over year, with software designed when car phones were a sign of prestige. So, when I put my head on my pillow I did not drift off to sleep.


My mind started racing like aging blind greyhounds after smelling food. Why? Because trying to manage a supply chain is not for the faint of heart.

supply chain management

These thoughts bouncing against the walls of my mind ranged from the vendors we were using to the columns I had set up in a spreadsheet. So, I did what any sane father of a three year old would do, I took my daughter’s Crayola markers and butcher paper, and dumped everything in my head on paper. Some have sticky notes, some have whiteboards, others… they have preschool supplies.

I would love to say it the marriage of ink and paper turned out looking like one of those amazing moments in a detective show with strings connecting to pictures, architect-like handwriting sketched and huge question marks next to suspects. But, the truth is, if someone walked in after I was done, they would have simply thought my three year old was practicing letters.  However, amid the scribbles and the faded lines from markers left out too long by tiny hands, was what I needed. I saw what to do next.

When planning a supply chain, or managing the growth of a small or big company, there are hundreds of balls in the air at any moment, important questions that all need answers. However, even with important items some are important but not urgent while others can be important AND urgent. Our job as managers is to identify what those important and urgent items are.

For me… today…after my time with Crayola, I found that I need to focus on one question, “Did trends change, and do these trends push up any upcoming runs?”

That’s it. There are other things to answer after that, but for now I will start there.

What about you? What’s your urgent and important to-do??


If you want to dig in more with prioritizing, check out Stephen Covey’s book Seven Habbits of Highly Successful People.


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