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One of the interesting things about consistently reading and hearing content from quality sources is that you start to notice trends. It is amazing how often the same topics arise at the same time in different places. We use this blog as a way to help you stay on top of the major themes in procurement and supply chain management.

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Posted by on in Procurement

Everyone likes to be part of a championship team and feel like they had a part in winning the trophy. It takes a good ‘coach’ or leader in order for the team to get there.

IBM's Institute for Business Value (IBV) just released the largest, most comprehensive Chief Procurement Officer Study ever conducted, with participation from 1,128 CPOs from organizations with annual revenue in excess of US$1 billion. According to the study, “Companies with high performing procurement organizations have profit margins 15 percent higher than the average company and 22 percent higher than those of companies with lower performing procurement organizations.”

The year of 2013 is half over. We wanted to highlight the most popular blog of the year - Promoting Yourself. 

This week’s featured webinar was hosted by ISM and presented by Chris Sawchuk, Principal and Global Procurement Advisory Practice Leader at The Hackett Group. In ‘Key Procurement Issues in 2013: Going Deeper and Broader for Borderless Procurement’ we heard the application of Hackett’s ‘Borderless Business’ concept to the world of procurement, focusing on the priorities being set by leading organizations for performance and capability building.

A few years ago I was at the meat department at my local grocery store. I wanted some special steaks to for a dinner party. I spotted them in the case. They looked incredible and I could already taste it coming off the grill. The meat manager said “Wait a minute, I have some fresh ones right here.” He stepped back 10 feet and pulled new ones off the tray. It did not take much and surely made me feel very special.

Posted by on in Uncategorized

As we celebrate the July 4th holiday with grilling, ice cream, and fireworks, we also pause to appreciate the freedom we enjoy and those who served to protect it.


Leadership that has “been there done that” and has earned their stripes can make a big impact.

Many of us have taken the Myers-Briggs personality test, either in school or on the job. One of the core principles is that there are no bad personality types. Taking the test is supposed to help you know yourself better, understanding your natural inclinations. That way, when you are under stress, not only will you be able to predict how you are likely to react to different situations, you may be able to alter your reaction to reach a desired result.

As the world is watching and praying for the health of Nelson Mandela, there is no question he has inspired many and has demonstrated significant leadership qualities.

This week’s blog is from the Washington Post. It is a thought-provoking summary of the leadership examples of Mandela. The eight lessons that have been widely shared are:

  1. Courage is not the absence of fear — it’s inspiring others to move beyond it.
  2. Lead from the front — but don’t leave your base behind.
  3. Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.
  4. Know your enemy — and learn about his favorite sport.
  5. Keep your friends close — and your rivals even closer.
  6. Appearances matter — and remember to smile.
  7. Nothing is black or white.
  8. Quitting is leading too.

A few years ago, the movie Invictus was released, sharing a true story of Mandela’s leadership utilizing the World Cup Rugby Competition to unite his country. I was interested in why that title? Mandela frequently read the Invictus poem by William Earnest Henry to maintain his determination while in prison and after. It is an inspiring poem, ending with:

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.       

What an inspiration and example of what is possible. It makes you pause to reflect and ask what would you have done in similar circumstances.

Clearly Mandela has mastered change management (quite an understatement). As we work through various professional challenges, some of these lessons can be very helpful. We often get stuck on the same track that is comfortable for us. If we take the time to step back and review some of the approaches Mandela used, we might find that a better, stronger solution evolves.

Have you had any examples of using one of the leadership lessons noted above? Were you surprised at the outcome?



Posted by on in Events

This week’s featured webinar was presented by the Next Level Purchasing Association. Each of the three speakers gave a preview of the sessions they will presenting at NLPA’s first conference, which is being held in Pittsburgh, PA this September.

Posted by on in Procurement

 Are all leaders created equal? Does it matter if they are technically savvy about the area they are leading?

Negotiation is everywhere. At home, at work and with our friends. It is a skill that some are much better at than others. And also some people enjoy the game of crafting the negotiation.

When i came across this blog in the Harvard Business Review, it reminded me of some key tactics that are very useful.

Who Keeps Their Eyes on The Prize?

This article discusses the negotiators that are most successfully stay focused on the best outcome and keep that in front of their strategy.

The Bold Opener

Have a strong opening bid. Be bold and aggressive. You can always modify it but start strong.

Making The Pie Bigger For Everyone

Not every negotiation has to be win-lose. Some can be beneficial to both parties. Consider those options as you are working through the discussions.

How You Can Become More Promotion-Focused

During your preparations, review all the possible benefits and work towards those. Stay away from the concerns about what you may lose.

Have you found any of these approaches to be helpful in your negotiations? What did you learn as you went through the process?


Rather than covering a webinar this week, I decided to focus on a recent interview conducted by Jon Hansen on the PI Window on Business Blog Talk Radio program. In April he spoke with Bill Michels, President of ADR North America, which was acquired by a for-profit arm of the Institute for Supply Management in December of 2011. The interview titled ‘The Future of ISM’ is available on demand on Blog Talk Radio.


We have just completed a series of articles and blogs on Supplier Performance Management. There are many components to a successful program. It is not just about scorecards!

The End of Competitive Advantage by Columbia Business School Professor Rita Gunther McGrath provides a perspective on the way businesses should develop and maintain their strategy to remain competitive. Gone are the days when companies could achieve a leadership position in a market and then continue to dominate for decades without significant changes. Innovative companies develop products across traditional sector lines, making the industry-based model of competition assessment obsolete. McGrath advises defining competitive strategies based on arenas, which she defines as smaller market segments defined by consumer behavior and geography as well as the product or service being sold.

People are very nervous when giving presentations. As procurement professionals, we hear many presentations from suppliers. There are some that hit it out of the park and others that are a snooze fest. Internally, we are often in the spot light for sharing information to a large group.

My experience has been that if I practice OUT LOUD several times and really know the topic, the rest falls in place. I do that even if it is presentation that I have given many times before. It gives me confidence and freshens it up in my mind.

I enjoyed the SmartBlog on Leadership post on 'Simple Steps to Successful Presentations'. It affirmed some of the tricks I use but gave me some more ideas as well.

1.Start with a bang. This year I had a short presentation for about 100 people. I started with a great story about my son that had just happened the night before. It had some humor, got people laughing and helped me to get started. Once you are going, the nerves calm down.

2.Get focused. Plan your message and stay on topic. We all have heard people who ramble and it gets confusing and frustrating.

3.Know your audience. I have witnessed presentations where they have missed the mark. I was in one last week and the supplier lost the audience and probably the business.

4.Know your stuff. This is a must and has been such a help for me. I do the homework and I practice. It is ok to say you don’t know but you will find out. However, overall you should know the materials.

5.Weave in examples. Your audience will remember your presentation and your message with examples

6.Don’t read. If you are prepared, you won’t have to read. You can tell the story behind the words. I have found that when someone is nervous or not prepared, they default and read the slides. Don’t. Period.

7.Have a Plan B. Things do go wrong so try to anticipate what that might be and prepare for it. Even if it doesn’t happen, you will be more confident overall.

Do any of these hints sound familiar to you? Have you any others that either you use or you have noticed others using?

This week’s featured event was presented by CombineNet and looked inside the operations of regional and national restaurant chains. The event is available on demand, as is an accompanying case study.

Posted by on in Procurement

A few years ago we did not have a technology tool to help track sourcing initiatives for 60+ customers. We utilized an excel spreadsheet with a tab for each customer all linked to a summary tab. There were 8 of us updating it from several remote locations. The sheet got corrupted, links got broken and it was an overall nightmare. Sound familiar?

Children ask a lot of questions. It is a great way to learn. Often they are ‘why’ questions. When my daughter talked to her grandfather, she almost always started the conversation with “Guess What?”. After a while, that became his nick name for her. 

Many organizations are using some situational interview questions in the process. This helps to determine the fit of the candidate, specifically in how they communicate, problem solve and make decisions. Consulting houses have been using this approach for a long time. A classic question was “How much does a 747 airplane weigh?” It was not the answer that mattered but the process and method of communicating that response that was the key.

Similarly, when in your procurement role and working with suppliers, asking questions of them can really help differentiate their capabilities. Charles Dominick of Next Level Purchasing has a blog “Three Supplier Interview Questions that should be included in your discussions with them.

  • How will doing business with your company instead of your competitor(s) make my organization more profitable?"
  • "What have been the biggest operational challenges that you have faced recently?"
  • "What changes do you see in your industry in the next few years and how are you preparing for them?"

One question that I use and find extremely helpful, both in my profession and in personal interactions is “What have I not asked you that I have missed, based on your experiences?” That is always an eye opener and a great way to wrap up the meeting.

Have you used any of these approaches? What technique and questions do you find helpful?



This week’s featured event was presented by Directworks on total cost visibility. Particularly in direct materials procurement, achieving total cost visibility requires data on components as well as the supply chain that moves them. This event is available on demand, and can be viewed here. There is also a whitepaper on this topic available for download.

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