You don't need an MBA to run a bakery. Really. Homemakers understand the concept of multi-tasking and scheduling. They call it getting dinner ready so everyone can sit down at the same time. But in business school they call it the critical path method.
The critical path is the longest path of planned activities to the end of the project. It determines the earliest and latest that each activity can start and finish without delaying the project. It also determines which activities are "critical" (on the longest path) and which can be delayed.
Let's say you are making Thanksgiving dinner. You might use the critical path method to explain that the turkey has to go in the oven before everything else, and the timing of the turkey going in the oven affects when you will sit down to dinner more than any other item you might be preparing.
Now let's say you run a bakery. The doors open at 8am and (today) you want to fill the display cases with several freshly prepared items. You have thought ahead to prepare batters and doughs the night before, so all you have to do this morning is bake. Arriving at the bakery at 6am, which do you bake first?
- A batch snickerdoodles, that will take 10-12 minutes to bake and need no further preparation.
- A batch of chocolate chip cookies, that will also take 10 minutes to bake, but that you need to let cool for about 20 minutes, then dip in chocolate. The dipping process will take about 10 minutes. Then the chocolate needs to harden before you can put the cookies in the case. This will take 5-10 minutes.
- A batch of oatmeal cookies that will take 15 minutes to bake and need no further preparation.
- A batch of Russian tea cakes that will take 10 minutes to bake, need to cool about 10 minutes, then be rolled in powdered sugar, which takes about 5 minutes.
- A batch of peanut butter cookies that will take 10 minutes to bake and need no further preparation.
- A batch of individual cakes that will bake in a sheet pan for 20 minutes, need to cool for at least an hour, then be cut into circles, then iced and decorated. The cutting and decorating process will take about 40 minutes.
Call it the critical path or call it common sense. If you are planning to open a bakery, you and the person left in charge of the kitchen need to understand this concept.