A Guide to Positive Disruption: How to Thrive and Make an Impact in the Churn of Today’s Corporate World by Joanna Martinez delivers a striking combination of advice, tough love, and hope. With this one included, I have reviewed 87 business books in my time at Buyers Meeting Point, but I have never reviewed a book where I already knew the author so well. It is ironic, because this book is intensely personal – not in the biographical sense, but in the way that Joanna lays her professional experiences open for examination, and invites the reader to do the same with their own.
“The only time they don’t say ‘Drop your pants’ now is at the Christmas party.” (p. 10, Epstein on sales' common interations with procurement))
The Ultimate Showdown Sales vs Procurement: The Secrets Unveiled at the Negotiation Table by Elliot Epstein and Paul Rogers (2018) is an absolutely fantastic book. In addition to getting two open and unapologetic perspectives on business, I was also left with the feeling that I had made two new friends.
The format of this book is unique, written entirely like a play (one paragraph at a time with the ‘speaker’ identified in the left margin), but it is fitting for the message and experience the authors want to deliver. We don’t need another buttoned-up, polite analysis of how sales and procurement have different approaches, challenges, and incentives – and the authors haven’t given us that. Instead, we get sales (represented by Epstein) and procurement (Rogers) having a debate. If the angel on your shoulder could have a sarcastic exchange with the devil on your other, I imagine it would read much like this. I won’t suggest which function (sales or procurement) is on which shoulder.
“Efficient, effective, risk-centric, and risk-adjusted third party lifecycle and risk management is a new and distinct way of doing business. How your company approaches any major change like this one is up to senior leadership.” (p. 162)
Third Party Risk Management: Driving Enterprise Value by Linda Tuck Chapman (The Risk Management Association, 2018) tackles one of the topics that procurement organizations discuss most – how to prepare for, handle, and mitigate the risks that result from our company working with third parties. Although it is not declared on the cover, the book is largely focused on the financial services industry. That said, the vast majority of the information will apply to your company regardless of industry or sector.
“When considering any contribution that risk management can make to the organization, it is important to decide whether the contribution will relate to strategy, projects and/or operations. The decision will enable the risk management activities within the organization to be aligned with the other business operations activities and imperatives.” P. 292
Fundamentals of Risk Management: Understanding, Evaluating and Implementing Effective Risk Management (5th Ed.) by Paul Hopkin (Kogan Page, July 2018) provides a thorough and instructive foundation for anyone looking to increase their enterprise’s rigor around risk. By acknowledging and discussing critical contextual issues such as global finance, international regulations, corporate culture, and natural human responses to risk, this book sets the reader up for success - and empowers them to proactively and positively navigate the inevitable uncertainty we all work in the midst of.
“We can spot an Expensive Sentence by its impact. Expensive Sentences limit information. They end conversations. They create urgency and isolation. They reduce options. They steal choice.” (p. xviii)
Expensive Sentences: Debunking the Common Myths that Derail Decisions and Sabotage Success by Jack Quarles (Ideapress, 2017) accomplishes two amazing things in one highly readable book:
- It provides procurement with an approach to managing ‘creep-in’ costs that has the potential to become viral on its own, as long as procurement is ready to lead the way, and
- It serves as a benchmark (in my opinion) that procurement’s brand image has made huge strides – and that we are being rewarded with a book that is both savvy and cool.
Expensive Sentences is about the power of spoken language. You may not be aware of it, but some of the most common sentences aired in your company on a daily basis are costing you money.
“In the new global era, speed and velocity are more important than everything else!” (p. 12)
The LIVING Supply Chain: The Evolving Imperative of Operating in Real Time by Rob Handfield and Tom Linton (Wiley, 2017) takes everything you know about ecosystems and Darwinian principles and applies it to supply chain management.
One of the most telling sections in the book is in the Preface where Handfield shares three major shifts affecting the digital economy (paraphrased here by me):
- Data is a natural resource (think raw material)
- Converting data into decisions is the key refinement process of the digital era
- Cognitive computing (human/machine interaction) will be a critical ‘relationship’
To me, these points are significant because they are NOT followed by something along the lines of “… and here is what all this means for supply chain.” Like the authors, we need to stop thinking of the supply chain as somehow separate or downstream from economic/digital trends. The supply chain is a fully integrated piece of the ecosystem – or should be – and must be managed as such. Every time we feel compelled to translate trends, priorities, forces into a supply chain-centric version, we obscure their meaning and slow the movement of information.
“I cannot guarantee whether you will be successful after a well-prepared negotiation, but I can 100 percent guarantee failure or finding yourself outsmarted and in a concessionary position if you choose not to do a thorough prep prior to a negotiation.” (p. 38)
Mastering High Stakes Negotiations: Both Sides of the Table by Mark M. Bilgin, Ph. D. (BookLocker.com, 2017) is true to its title in that it lays out all of the considerations associated with the most critical, highest dollar value negotiations conducted. In an odd way, however, even meeting that high bar is still selling the book short.
If you are a people watcher, or a student of human behavior, you will absolutely love this book. I was immediately drawn in by the author’s use of case studies, both his own and the ‘outside’ experiences of others to illustrate in colorful but honest fashion the incentives and pitfalls associated with negotiation prep. Negotiation is, at its simplest level, the use of leverage, exchange, and (somewhat) predictable human behavior to bring parties together for their perceived benefit. As a result, you can not be a master negotiator without being aware of and interested in what people say and do. That may come as a great relief to anyone that still thinks negotiation is about aggressively dominating ‘them’ to get what is best for yourself at any cost.
“This supply chain is the bridge between the customer needs of a market segment and the value-added of a product. If we can’t connect the two, then we have a show stopper.” (p. 4)
Supply Chain Construction: The Basics for Networking the Flow of Material, Information, and Cash by William Walker (CRC Press, 2016) is an impressive work that combines exhaustive supply chain planning considerations, processes, and figures with a narrative that keeps all of the information provided firmly rooted in reality.
I met the author in person at the February 2017 ISM Economic Forum in NYC where he participated in a panel discussion I moderated. Although Bill is an adjunct professor of supply chain engineering at NYU, the book is far from academic. It illustrates critical business principles through plausible real life examples that make their lessons easy to understand and recall long after reading them.
“This should be a very sobering thought for anyone in business. The company that you toil and work so hard to make succeed is statistically unlikely to exist in a decade.” (p. 5)
Building Digital Culture: A Practical Guide to Successful Digital Transformation by Daniel Rowles (@DanielRowles) and Thomas Brown (@ThinkStuff) (Kogan Page, 2017) is the reason I review books. While I was reading this book, I was interrupting everyone I know to share ideas and quotes. If you are looking for an engaging, readable text that moves at the same speed as the digital world it describes, buy this book.
“Companies that dominated the national market for decades are suddenly confronted with new competitors that are redefining entire industries and hence restricting the incumbents’ strategic freedom to shape their future.” (p. 6)
Radical Business Model Transformation: Gaining the competitive edge in a disruptive world by Carsten Linz, Günter Müller-Stewens, and Alexander Zimmermann (Kogan Page, 2017) presents readers with the same challenge question the authors asked each other during the writing process: ‘Are we being radical enough?’
In reading A Circular Economy Handbook for Business and Supply Chains: Repair, remake, redesign, rethink by Catherine Weetman, I was reminded the importance of people taking completely different approaches to a topic. In the case of the Circular Economy Handbook, I was caught completely off guard by her deep and pervasive focus on the environment, renewable resources, and social value.
There will always be a recycling component to any discussion of circular economies because they embrace a move away from ‘linear’ production and resource utilization models where goods have a limited useful life and become waste once they reach the end of it. For example, Weetman’s study of the amount of water required to feed a rapidly growing population (1 litre per calorie), raises the stakes for anyone who is only looking a circular model for cost reasons.
If you feel surprised that you missed the first edition of Introduction to Global Logistics: Delivering the Goods 2nd Ed., by John Manners-Bell, you’re not alone. I was puzzled by the same thing. If the first edition came out in 2014, how could I possibly have missed it? I didn’t - and maybe you didn’t either. The title of the first edition book was Global Logistics Strategies: Delivering the Goods.
Title and edition questions notwithstanding, this book provides considerable updates and new content. There are three completely new chapters, as well as an updated preface. Since I reviewed Global Logistics Strategies (you can read it here) I focused my time with the 2nd Ed. on the three new chapters:
Chapter 12: Supply Chain Technologies
Chapter 16: Supply Chain Innovation and Disruption
Chapter 17: Ethical and Sustainable Supply Chain Strategies
“Buyers have a privileged position within companies and are exposed to innovative ideas from suppliers often developing their own sense of curiosity. Although not all buyers have realized it yet, they are expected to contribute to the innovation process.” (p. 25)
Confessions of a Professional Buyer: The Secrets About Selling & Purchasing Services, by Hubert Lachance, is something like a survival guide for suppliers dealing with procurement – and vice versa. Lachance has over a decade’s worth of experience managing indirect spend for a multi-national CPG company, and he applies that experience to help all buyers and sellers work together more productively.
“Because technology has become an extension of the knowledge worker’s business and personal life, it has become apparent that to separate the two is not just pointless, it is impossible.” (p. 15)
Tomorrow Today: How Ai Impacts How We Work, Live And Think (And It’s Not What You Expect) by Donal Daly, CEO of Altify, is exactly my kind of book. Not only does it discuss recent developments in automation and AI and illustrate their impact on business and society through recent news stories, it is so full of enthusiasm for the future that it must have been written by someone with a background in sales.
Targeted at ‘knowledge workers’, this book addresses the challenges and opportunities faced across functions – sales, marketing, procurement, finance, etc. Will the rise of the machines eliminate the need for professionals who see themselves as strategic and value oriented today? Will humans and AI (Augmented rather than Artificial using Daly’s definition) settle into a kind of symbiosis that harnesses the advantages of each into a powerful combined capability? These questions – which might be dark and intimidating in a different context – are addressed head on and without hesitation.
A value chain is the overall set of internal and external resources – human, physical, financial and informational – that require to be marshalled and managed in order to achieve the objectives of any organization. (p. 2)
Building Effective Value Chains: Value and Its Management by Tom McGuffog provides an almost completely unexpected perspective on the meaning of value and value chains as well as how they should be nurtured in a variety of contexts. I chose the word ‘nurtured’ deliberately; McGuffog makes the point that this book is for “students” in a wide range of disciplines extending far beyond a corporate setting. The attention he pays to humanity and the “value of human life” in his discussions of value and values is so compassionate that I found myself wondering if McGuffog had switched places with Gyöngyi Kovács, Karen Spens, and Ira Haavisto who edited Supply Chain Management for Humanitarians how the two books might have turned out differently.
“The essence of supply chains is to match supply and demand. But what happens with supply chains and, particularly, what can supply chain performance be, in the context where the demand is neither dictated by nor is the performance of the supply chain directly evaluated by the end users?” (p. 7)
Supply Chain Management for Humanitarians, a multi-contributor book edited by Gyöngyi Kovács, Karen Spens, and Ira Haavisto takes a very serious look at a topic that many people may regard in a casual or ‘soft’ manner.
The Logistics and Supply Chain Toolkit by Gwynne Richards and Susan Grinsted is an instructional book based in reality, free from assumptions and pretense but full of real world applications. The toolkit concept, one that is continued throughout the book, spotlights process and analytical assets that are described by the authors as including “guides, frameworks, models, quick calculations, and practical ideas.” The topics covered in the book range from an essential review of Incoterms to a more advanced discussion of Decision Matrix Analysis.
“…more than 70% of the top 1,000 companies around the world will have adopted supply chain finance programmes within the next couple of years.” (p. xiii)
Financing the End-to-End Supply Chain, by Simon Templar, Erik Hofmann, Charles Findlay, is an educational investment that many procurement and supply chain professionals will benefit from. Despite being one of the top ‘up and coming’ professional topics, there is still a lack of solid understanding in the professions that will be required to see supply chain finance programs through.
I came to this review with just enough knowledge to be dangerous – and enthusiastic. In my opinion, supply chain finance is the ‘Robotic Process Automation’ (RPA) of 2016. BY 2017, SCF will be a regular part of corporate conversations across industries and geographies.
“Supply chain legal disputes don’t start out as legal disputes. They typically start out as badly written contracts, poor communication with supply chain partners, and an inability to resolve conflicts.” (Authors’ Foreward)
Legal Blacksmith, by Rosemary Coates and Sarah Rathke, is an interesting mix of two perspectives the procurement community is all too familiar with: supply chain and legal. They combine their experience – Coates on the supply chain side and Rathke on the legal side – to provide a view that seems better suited to supply chain professionals looking for an improved legal understanding than vice versa. Interestingly, they met during a court case where a manufacturer was sued by a customer.
Buyers and suppliers, they make the commercial world go round.
- The POD Model, p. 1
The POD Model: The mutually-beneficial model for buyers and suppliers which enables an increase in profit through commercial collaboration by Michael Robertson strives to do something that we need a whole lot more of in procurement. It provides a framework for combining our philosophical objectives as collaborators and innovators with the inescapable need to measure our results.
Robertson looks at the messy reality of buyer supplier relations and breaks them down to a few major issues: cost, risk, flexibility, and incentives for mutual gain. He then looks to find a way to factor those into contracts in such a way that no one party benefits at the cost or loss of the other.