There is an inspiration story about millions of starfish stranded on the beach and how an old man walking along keeps tossing a few back into the water. There is no way to save all the starfish. However, for some of them, the man picking them up and putting them back in the water does make a HUGE difference.
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.
When our son was young, he would go through a cycle that was amusing to all of us. He would nod his head up and down while saying “uh huh” and then side to side “nuh uh” and repeat this many times. He was outwardly arguing with himself but not over any particular topic. We would ask him who won. The response was “me of course”! We would laugh.
Everyone loves a good surprise. Maybe is it an unexpected birthday present. Or perhaps it is a visit from a dear friend that you have not seen in quite some time. An unforeseen professional opportunity is offered to you that would open up new growth and financial rewards. There are so many events that pleasantly surprise us and we do look forward to those.
My daughter is a runner and I am NOT. I recently started a training program “Couch to 5K” in preparation for a 5K race with my daughter. The name of this program is quite appropriate for me. I will admit I have started “Week 1” about 4 times over a period of 4 months.
Rube Goldberg is best known for a series of popular cartoons depicting complex gadgets that perform simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways. My father was a do-it-yourselfer to the max. Many times he would fix something. It may not be pretty but it worked. He would often say “Rube Goldberg would be proud of this!”.
Our family loves to play all types of games – cards, board games, volley ball, croquet and so on. This summer we have played a good deal of cribbage. It keeps the ‘mental math’ gears going as well as developing the various strategies and approaches. Of course, sometimes it is just about the luck of the cards you are dealt.
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:
- Courage is not the absence of fear — it’s inspiring others to move beyond it.
- Lead from the front — but don’t leave your base behind.
- Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.
- Know your enemy — and learn about his favorite sport.
- Keep your friends close — and your rivals even closer.
- Appearances matter — and remember to smile.
- Nothing is black or white.
- 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?
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?
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?
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?
How safe is your data and how secure are your supplier interactions?
Many organizations are interested in cyber security and protecting their business. It is a serious economic challenge and we need to be able to depend on having a secure cyberspace.
This article in Supply Chain Brain discusses the issues as they relate to supply chain and procurement professionals. There are very complex relationships in an organizations supply chain and it is difficult to know where the risks are. Data for specifications, consumer credit card information, legal matters are just a few areas that need to be protected.
There is a standard known as ISO27001 which can serve as a great baseline and starting point. There are 11 parts of the standard.
- Security policy - management direction
- Organization of information security - governance of information security
- Asset management - inventory and classification of information assets
- Human resources security - security aspects for employees joining, moving and leaving an organization
- Physical and environmental security - protection of the computer facilities
- Communications and operations management - management of technical security controls in systems and networks
- Access control - restriction of access rights to networks, systems, applications, functions and data
- Information systems acquisition, development and maintenance - building security into applications
- Information security incident management - anticipating and responding appropriately to information security breaches
- Business continuity management - protecting, maintaining and recovering business-critical processes and systems
- Compliance - ensuring conformance with information security policies, standards, laws and regulations
Have you done any of the list above? I know I have participated in exercises that involve many of them. What did you learn and which have you found to be most effective?
I just read an article about the pending hurricane season will be one of the more severe on record.
Climate change is causing very intense weather patterns. Tornadoes, blizzards, floods and drought to an level never seen before. More than ever, now is the time to make changes. You can’t change the world but you can do something.
At home, we are a big recycling family. Some of our friends are also composting to utilize that as fertilizer in their gardens instead of chemicals. We are all working to reduce our personal carbon footprint.
In your procurement profession, going green in the sourcing process is another option. Another term for that is sustainable procurement, as described on the United Nations Global Marketplace
The article discusses why the United Nations has decided to move towards practices that encourage sustainability in the supply chain. They are sending a message to the business community to promote practices that are beneficial for the environment. Their goal is for climate neutrality so they do not have a negative impact on the environment.
This is a very helpful source as it has references for a tool kit and training for procurement associates and suppliers alike.
How is your organization working towards environmental neutrality? Have you put a green procurement process in place? What results and value have you seen from it?
Graduation season is upon us. For our family, we have 3 high school and 3 graduate degree parties to go to this year. Incredible!
Of course the next step after school is finding a job. That is such a challenge and there is a great deal of competition. Some of the search is a numbers game and some of it is timing. I know some recent graduates have applied to over 100 various organizations. Eventually something breaks through.
This article by OnlineMBA.com discusses the increase in hiring for recent MBA graduates. There are opportunities in supply chain across all types of industries such as manufacturing and health care. Some of the graduates are getting a specialized MBA. They learn general management principles and focus on unique practices for a specific industry.
MBA’s are in demand for manufacturers. As the OnlineMBA article states:
“Hot jobs for manufacturing MBAs are in the fields of project management, business analysis, and supply chain demand in manufacturing.”
In our organization, most of the entry level sourcing positions are MBA graduates. They have developed some skills through their education. While analytical in nature, they also have had opportunity to evaluate the bigger picture.
Do you hire MBA graduates? What did you look for in your most recent hire? What value do you place on that advanced degree?
As we celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend, there are many learnings that are gained in childhood that carry us through to our adult lives – both personal and professional.
This book is Life’s Lessons from Mom by Patrick Flaherty. Looking at this through the eyes of a career for procurement, there are several that hit home for sure.
You’re never too busy or too old to have fun.
- We spend a great deal of time at the office. Are you too busy or do you see humor and laugh? How do you enjoy those you work with?
Never fear your competition.
- Your competition makes you stronger and better. Playing against someone faster or better than you makes you improve your skills too. Also, there will always be someone better, faster, richer than you. The competition is against yourself and to improve YOU.
Take care of your equipment.
- As a child, we were told to put our bikes in the garage at the end of the day. So easy to just leave them out on the grass or in the driveway. Well, we did put them away and they lasted longer and had a better resale value as we outgrew them. Same thing applies with your equipment and tools at the office. It will make a big difference with your effectiveness.
Make your bed and clean your room
- Everyone has heard this one many, many times. Perhaps you have now had the opportunity to use it on YOUR children. It is amazing that we can hear our parent’s words coming out of our mouths about very similar issues. Well, this one is for order and discipline. As you learn those skills, it helps with application in your professional life as well. So much time can be lost looking for the appropriate document or misplacing that phone number. So go ahead and “make your bed and clean your room”!!
There are so many other good reflections. What did you learned that has helped you going forward? Any words of wisdom from Mom to share on this special weekend? If not, how about:
Negotiation is a core skill for procurement professionals. Actually, it is really something everyone does every day. When you really look at it – EVERYTHING IS NEGOTIABLE. Some if it is so minor, you don’t even notice it like where to have dinner tonight.
So you want to run (AKA negotiate) with the big dogs? The ones who have succeeded? What can we learn from them and adopt to our own situations?
This article from CEO.com 9 Negotiation Tactics from Famous CEO’s offers interesting approaches that proved very effective. They may not all fit your style but there are a few here that could be beneficial in your toolbox. Here are a few that were discussed.
Make everyone else look lousy
In other words, make your proposal so compelling, the others fall by the wayside. Steven Jobs bid for the company that was to become iTunes was 8 times more than the next bidder. That got their attention as you can imagine.
If cooperation isn’t on the table, overthrow the whole thing
Teamwork is critical in business today. Individuals have to be bought in to the broader goal, not just their own personal agendas. At Twitter, when the team was not focused, the CEO took action and that behavior changed.
Take a look at the article and see if there is anything that strikes a cord with you. Some of them may not appeal to your style but it is certainly food for thought.
Have you had an opportunity to run with the big dogs? What did you do differently and did you learn how to negotiate in a different manner?
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” - Thomas A. Edison
Notice I did not title this as do you want to SUCCEED like Thomas Edison. Of course we would like to get to the answer on round 1. Most time that does not happen - ever is more like it. If Edison had not taken a chance, and kept at it , would we still be reading by candlelight?
When I read this blog by John Maxwell, Traits of a Successful Failure, I got thinking about procurement applications. How can I take more risks, fail, learn from it and eventually succeed. Perhaps with a different spec, supplier or process.
Maxwell talks about the four traits of a successful failure. I think we can agree that Edison certainly has those characteristics.
1. Optimism. Find the benefit in every bad experience.
2. Responsibility. Change your response to failure by accepting responsibility.
3. Resilience. Say goodbye to yesterday.
4. Initiative. Take action and face your fear.
We do often fall into patterns of work and comfort with various suppliers. However, taking a chance to try something different or offer a new idea is an opportunity to fail like Thomas Edison. And when you succeed, the value and results to you and your organization can be quite significant.
What have you tried differently this month? Did it work? Have you tried a revision and a new approach? Can you describe what your learned?