You Know a Lot More About Logistics Than You Realize

by Nico Scopelliti

“Many have become chess masters; no one has become the master of chess.”— Siegbert Tarrasch

While I've had the opportunity to study other sources informally, the vast majority of the knowledge and experience I've gained in logistics can be directly attributed to David Schneider. He's an excellent teacher and an empowering instructor, and I'm grateful to be among his many students.

While he's a world-class expert on the subject — a logistics master — I bet Dave would agree with Tarrasch's statement above that there are no masters of logistics. Even Dave has more to learn, and always will.

We all do, and if a desire for self-edification and empowerment is what brings you here, you've come to the right place. But you may not know where to start.

If not, then here's what I recommend. Before you embark on your journey of learning, have you accounted for the knowledge you already possess? Not only am I willing to bet dollars to donuts that you know more than you give yourself credit for, I bet that once you dig it all up, a clear path will reveal itself. You'll uncover an area of particular importance to you — be it a strength you want to build upon or a weakness you want to overcome — and you'll be ready to set out in that direction.

Here's a step-by-step method for accounting for all that know-how locked up in your head. And the good news is, even Einstein would need at most a weekend to complete this mini-project.

How to Know What You Know

First, let's set some ground rules. You will have to do some writing as part of this exercise. The only way to get out of that is to know so little that you don't need to keep track of it in writing. We all know you know more than that.

That said, here's what I don't want you to worry about when it comes to your writing:

1) It doesn't need to be good.

Your definition of good when applied to your own work is far stricter than anyone else's. Nobody is asking you for a literary masterpiece. When you reach the writing step of this exercise, quality is not a concern. It just needs to be intelligible to you!

2) It doesn't need to flow.

It can be completely disjointed, and you can jump around from one bit of knowledge to another at random. That's OK. You're not writing a textbook; you're simply documenting knowledge. You can throw together a lot of random material that is somehow connected in the grand scheme of things and still have something of value.

3) You don't need to be a good writer.

This is a close relative to Rule #1 above, but it's worth including for emphasis. Good grammar and syntax and sentence structure and composition skills are not needed here and even if you write never-ending run on sentences like this one and dont no how to use apostrophes or are confused by homonyms... It's OK! This isn't literature. Allow the information to just pop out of your head unfiltered and unjudged.

Keeping the above ground rules in mind, follow these steps:

Step 1) Pick a subject you know something about, anything related to Logistics. Warehousing, material handling, transportation, labor management, procurement, fulfillment … whatever. Pick the first one that comes to mind that you know ANYTHING about.

Step 2) Buy a package of Post-it Notes. They're usually 100 notes per pad. Separate a pad in half so you've got a pad of 50.

Step 3) On each note, write one tip, trick, tactic, piece of advice, recommendation, warning, admonishment, caution, clue, hint, pointer, or rule-of-thumb. Fifty may sound like a lot, but you actually have hundreds of little bits and pieces in your brain that you've gathered from your experiences. As you complete them, stick them on a flip pad or on the wall.

Step 4) Repeat this process until you can't think of anything else related to that subject. Then turn to the next subject area, and repeat Step 3.

Step 5) Once you've jotted down every piece of knowledge you can think of, it's time to do a little writing. Write a single paragraph elaborating each point on each Post-It Note. It can even be a single sentence, if that's enough to get the main point across. But don't leave a single point unexplained; even a superficial explanation is better than none.

(You may find that while engaging in Step 5, you come up with more items for Step 3. No problem; throw up another Post-It Note.)

Step 6) Review what you've written and review the notes. In what realm do you need or want to increase your knowledge? Now that you know what you know, do you have an idea of what you don't know but want to? I bet you do.

When you boil things down into these small pieces, you aren't actually accounting for the full extent of your knowledge. A lot of knowledge is contained in your heart — or your gut, if you will. It's something that you know because you can feel it even if you can't put it into words. So even if you don't have a wall covered in sticky notes now, that doesn't mean you lack knowledge. But it does mean that you should invest in your intellectual knowledge rather than your gut knowledge. Studying the subject will help you put what you know into words and take ownership of it.

At the end of the day, I think you'll be amazed not only by what you know, but by how much stronger and more confident you are in that knowledge.

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