Sunday, March 29, 2015

Seeking First to Understand in Supply Chain Design

Well, it has been a long time and thank you for all the readers who stayed close to this.  I have so many thoughts to write about and I realized when I am not writing I get a bit lazy in terms of researching what best in class people are doing.  So, therefore, I need to write.

Today's posting is about "Seeking First to Understand".  As Steven Covey told us, when you are engaging with either your team, customers or your spouse for that matter, you should always "seek first to understand".  God gave us two ears and one month for a reason.  Listen, think and then talk if you have something to say.  

How does this relate to Supply Chain Design?  Simple, when engaging with a customer or one of your team you should spend the vast majority of your time seeking to understand.  Listen to what they have to say, ask probing questions (not yes / no questions but questions that are open ended such as "Tell me More...  "Help me understand...") and then think.

If you are formulating a response in your head while someone is talking then I can assure you that you are not listening.  Despite popular belief, most people and virtually all minds, cannot multitask while communicating.  If you are thinking of your response while the person is talking then you are not listening ... it is that simple.

In Supply Chain design, listening means asking:


  1. What are your pain points?
  2. What are you trying to accomplish with the brand?
  3. What does the client's or the user of the supply chain customers say and think?
  4. What does your company want to be known for (for example.. is the competitive advantage being the low cost provider, is it being the high service..i.e. Zappos provider)?
When having one of these sessions you should not respond with immediate ideas but rather with a lot more probing questions.  Then, you think.. and that may take days but you think hard. Only then will you be able to formulate a good strategy.

Thinking is hard work and it is tough because, in general, people like to see action (sometimes any action) and thinking is not an outward action.  But, trust me, it is the right thing to do.