Monday, October 25, 2021

The “order” of things matter… remember “PEMDAS”


I remember the moment so distinctly… our son Bryson was in 5th grade (now 12+ years ago) and he came home from school with a significant insight about Math.  He explained to Jennie and me that Math was based on a set of rules called “PEMDAS” that were “made up” or arbitrary (my word) and if you followed a different set of rules, like maybe “MEPDAS”, you would generate completely different answers.  While at that moment I realized I needed to brush up on my core math principles, I also knew that Bryson was a very smart boy who was able at a very young age to think about some funky abstract ideas.


Let’s take a step back and refresh ourselves on “The order of operations in mathematics.”


Definition:  In math, order of operations are the rules that state the sequence in which the multiple operations in an expression should be solved. 

A way to remember the order of the operations is PEMDAS, where in each letter stands for a mathematical operation.

The PEMDAS rules that state the order in which the operations in an expression should be solved, are:

1. Parentheses - They take precedence over all other operators. The first step is to solve all the operations within the parentheses. Work out all groupings from inside to out. (Whatever is in parentheses is a grouping)

2. Exponents - Work out all the exponential expressions. 

3. Multiplication and Division - Next, moving from left to right, multiply and/or divide whichever comes first.

4. Addition and Subtraction - Lastly, moving from left to right, add and/or subtract whichever comes first.


Let’s look at an example:


4x (5+3) = 4X8= 32… following “PEMDAS”


4X (5+3) = 20+3=23…following Bryson’s suggestion, “MEPDAS”


As you can plainly see, the order of operations is fundamental to successful math operations and a reminder to all of us that the “order of things” matter in many facets of business and life,


This lesson from Bryson’s 5th grade math class has been on my mind recently, as I have been working with a team at Bolthouse Farms that is working on its processes and business “rhythms.”  I shares in a work session recently that I follow a very strict and consistent “order” to my weekly leadership/business routines, a method that I refer to as our “Performance Management Discipline.”  Daily I count on the “Daily Sales Report” to be published so I can track Net Revenue for the company as a whole and broken out by product and by customer.  Every Monday I take that specific Daily Sales Report and build out my Weekly Sales Report that highlights that net revenue trend for the past week, month, quarter and year to date.  I share that report with my leadership team Monday afternoon and EVERY Tuesday I hold a live leadership mtg (or zoom) with that weekly report as its central data document.  On Fridays of every week, I receive a forecast for the sales orders for the week ahead and calibrate where that will take us vis a vis our budgets and our production plans.  

This weekly cadence is complemented with monthly, quarterly and annual “Performance Management Routines” that directly connects to that daily sales report and to our top and bottom-line performance vs budget through the fiscal year along with connecting to the multi-year strategic planning process and the annual budget cycle.  This interconnected process needs to follow its own “order of operations” …. Its own “PEMDAS,” in order for the organization as a whole to stay on track.  Regardless of function or department, having a set “Performance Management Discipline” and staying true to following it is fundamental to success in business.  I encourage all of you to remember Bryson’s lesson of “PEMDAS” and ensure that you and your organization are staying true to your core “order of operations!”