Back in the day when I worked at a drug store, we had coding on the shelves that served as our inventory and ordering system. Two simple numbers helped keep the shelves stocked — OPOQ: Order Point Order Quantity. In other words, a 2/4 meant that when there were only two of those items remaining (order point) it was time to order 4 more (order quantity). It took the guesswork out of the process and allowed a high school student like myself to manage the ordering for the department because there were clear guidelines on when it was time to act.

I think that OPOQ can serve as a useful point of documentation for not only office supplies and pantry items but as a type of gauge to have conversations about comfort level with risk. Think of Order Point as Action Point – at what stage should action be triggered?

You and your manager (or partner) should agree on parameters by which action should be taken or when the other needs to be informed. You likely won’t quantify it with a simple two-digit number, but a shared understanding is very helpful of whether tolerance is low or high, whether you have the autonomy to act or need to check-in, and the level of communication that the other would like to receive. If one person is likely to observe a situation and let it play out before intervening (a high action point), and the other believes in course corrections as soon as a deviation is noted (a low action point) – it would be beneficial to know this and come to some agreement before being faced with a decision-warranting scenario. Similar discussions in advance about the amount of action that is required (action quantity) in hypothetical situations could also prove worthwhile instead of learning the information during real dramas as they are playing out.

What’s your personal OPOQ? Pay attention to your own behavior and see if you can develop an understanding of where you fall on the action/response spectrum to allow you to communicate those values to others.

P.S.  Happy 8th Anniversary Leadership Dots!


I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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