Getting to grips with complex value chains – it’s child’s play

What do people do all day?

Anyone who’s ever interacted with a toddler will be familiar with the why stage – a toddler’s need to ask “Why?” ad nauseum.  It’s an important developmental stage but also utterly infuriating. 

So, here’s a confession.  I don’t think I ever grew out of my why?-phase, indeed I just went on to add other open-ended questions to this such as how does that work? And what would happen if?

I blame the parents – their answer to all of these questions was just to bombard me with answers and supply me with books packed with facts. One of the best being Richard Scarry’s  What do people do all day? I’d highly recommend What do people do all day? to anyone who wants to get a rudimentary grip on business models and value chains and have unashamedly visited these texts on both of my children and all of my nieces and nephews – watch out Daisy, you’re next!   

Make it visual

Imagine my delight then, when a business system’s manager friend of mine came to me last week and said “I’m working with HR, we need a way to get new starters up to speed quickly, they can’t do the usual physical tour of the warehouse and factory, view the processes, understand how it all hangs together and how we fite into the value chain, we’d really like to visualise how our business works, who does what and why” – he’s now working up a Richard-Scarry style visualisation of the different functions in the team and how the business interacts with the outside world.

No laughing matter

Do give Richard Scarry a read, you might learn a thing or two.  But, admittedly, value chains can get complex and value chain complexity can cost you dear, so you may need something a little more orthodox to visualise your value chain. If Richard Scarry isn’t doing it for you, then check out Duke University’s site for useful value chain tools.

If you fancy some lighter reading, I can also recommend another Scarry text:  The Funniest Story Book Ever it really is the funniest story book ever.