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.
“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.
Picture this: your organization needs to create a multi-year contract covering critical components for its manufacturing process. Because of the technical nature of those components, management requests that the team creating the contract be led by procurement but also include engineering, R&D, and finance. Each of the people involved will have different priorities, even though all agree on what they want the end result to be. How do you present a united front at the negotiation table?
What would you do?
“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.
Have you ever wondered why your savings projections supersede the realized savings? Have you ever been challenged by your finance department to validate the projected cost savings one year into an agreement? Has your C-suite ever complained that procurement’s estimates and projections go unrealized? If you have faced any of these or similar situations, you are not alone. Savings projections often fall short of reality, but why? For many procurement organizations, their sourcing efforts aren’t felt due to noncompliance.
It had been a particularly hard week for the whole team. Factory audits had been going on with the accuracy of a Swiss watch (plane, factory, hotel, plane, factory, hotel...). That Friday night we were isolated by a storm that had canceled our flight home and left us stuck in an airport hotel, not knowing what day it was or when we would get back. Our ‘batteries’ were very low.
Only Avi, our expert sales agent, strengthened by a thousand negotiations, seemed to be fresh as a lettuce.
Around the crackling of the chimney, while the storm whipped outside, we all tried to shelter ourselves in hot cups of coffee, seeking the strength to recover our spirits.
“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.
Editor’s note: Scott Jancy is a multi-faceted professional, with experience as a historian, an architect, a Naval Officer, a planner, and a consultant. He blogs often on innovation, leadership, and design thinking. In his first guest post for Buyers Meeting Point, Scott takes on the topic of leadership through times of change. For procurement teams this might mean greater contact with procurement, a new organizational mandate, or the role out of different technology. Regardless of the source of the change, procurement must have a vision for the desired outcome and the messaging to build support and spread understanding.
Change of state is the physical process where matter moves from one state to another. Examples of such changes are melting, freezing, evaporation/boiling, condensation, sublimation, and deposition. Shifting temperatures and increased pressure are the usual causes of this kind of phase change in matter.
People and organizations can also change their state when subjected to stress. Typical causes include, but are not limited to, poor leadership, low employee morale, an ineffective or excessive office management, and possible job uncertainty. A team of people can either break apart or fuse together depending on how they react to the stress.
The principle of a North/South divide has been around for as long as mankind has organized itself into societies. It is a term often used within politics to define the ‘North of the country from the South’. It doesn’t matter if you are referening to the USA, UK, or India, the statement is still applicable. It works on the principle things may be considered different between two groups, thereby creating a barrier to collaboration.
The key to the model is achieving the right perspective. For example, we may embrace a North/South divide within our countries yet still passionate about being part of the same country. Overcoming the divide requires a common agenda, one that everyone can get behind regardless of which side of the divide they are from.
If you were to review your own procurement team’s achievements and capabilities from the perspective of a customer, would you buy from you?
The principle of using an internal business function which is currently a cost centre, and turning it into an revenue generating business proposition, is not new. Examples can be found in most areas ranging from IT through to Finance. The principle is based on creating such a leading business function others will pay to use.
Dr. Tom DePaoli recently released Avoiding a Supply Chain Apocalypse. It is a collection of the best advice he has to give on topics ranging from relationships to negotiation to Kaizens and storytelling. Since I’ve read all of Dr. Tom’s books, I consider it something of a personal challenge to uncover the material he has added – either because the focus of the book is different or because professional priorities continue to change over time.
Like Dr. Tom’s other books, this is for professionals that don’t have the time (or desire) to lose themselves in a 300-400 page book of polished academic theory. His sections are short and to the point and draw in material from third party sites as well as his other writing. You can read one or two sections as time allows and not have any trouble picking up in a different place the next time you sit down.
Anyone who has ever completed a Request for Proposal (RFP) has had the unfortunate experience of informing all but one or two suppliers they have not been awarded the business. It may be difficult and at times uncomfortable, but when the unchosen supplier is the incumbent, there is more to manage than just this conversation. How this transition process is handled can either help or hinder the success of moving to a new supplier relationship. There are a few steps you can take to smooth the transition and ensure all parties are as satisfied as possible.
Last month I had the opportunity to speak with Dave Bowen, Xchanging’s US Country Manager and CEO of MM4. Xchanging has now released two parts of the research they conducted into procurement and supply chain. You can read my coverage of the first two parts here and here.
This week's guest audio comes from a panel discussion moderated by Code for America. They create open source solutions and facilitate a collaborative community around their use. Code for America also hosts an annual summit that brings together public sector innovators and the organizations that collaborate with them – and that is where this particular recording was made: at a 2014 summit panel on public sector procurement.
In this exchange, the panel responds to an audience question about the politics of procurement and facilitating cross-functional communication for the sake of gaining buy in.
These notes are from an event that originally ran on July 28th. If you are interested in viewing the entire webinar on demand, it is available on the Proxima Group’s site here. The panelists were Mark Simester, Marketing Director at Warburtons, Charles Ping, Chief Executive at Fuel, and John Butcher, Marketing Specialist at Proxima and the moderator was Jonathan Cooper-Bagnall, Proxima’s Commercial Director.
While the focus of this event was how procurement can play a role in better managing digital marketing spend, the insights shared during the panel discussion provided plenty of insight about how procurement can improve our dealings with marketing in general. Since marketing is often one of the last hold out functions, we can use all the advice we can get.
Many thanks to the Market Dojo team for their cooperation and collaboration on this post - proof that they have attention spans longer than goldfish.
Everywhere you look, there is evidence that the pace of the world is picking up. We share our status instantly in 140 characters or less. Meetings are routinely scheduled for 30 minutes rather than an hour. We check email, make phone calls, catch up on the news, etc. while walking from one place to another so we are fully informed when we arrive. Saying, “Oh, I hadn’t seen that yet...” is likely to be received with skeptical looks and rolled eyes.
As an active part of this constantly updating, clipped environment, procurement professionals need to be aware of the general pace of interaction between people and organizations. We have to be both purposeful and accurate if we are going to hold people’s attention long enough to get from them what we need.
This week’s webinar notes are from an April 30th event hosted by Sourcing Interests Group and presented by Denali’s Alan Veeck and special guest Paul Smith from ‘Lead with A Story’, a coach, speaker, and author.
The webinar explored how professionals can leverage the techniques of storytelling to build influence and communicate an important message in an effective way. In Smith’s terms, storytelling is simple, timeless, contagious, and memorable, and it works across demographics.
Within the context of procurement, Denali has been incorporating storytelling into the training they provide to category managers. With the wide range of responsibilities being handled by category managers today, they have to function within an operating model that allows for proper division of labor. Coaching them is like cross training, bringing together a range of diverse skills that will help them become more strategic.
The lessons from this webinar combine to create something like ‘communication theatre’ that you can leverage to get your message through – as long as you are willing to put in the effort up front. What the speakers did not directly address in this event, but that should not be underestimated, is the time and planning required to apply storytelling. You have to know your audience, craft a story in such a way that it has the desired effect, and choreograph the execution carefully.
I recently read an op-ed piece on the Sourcing Journal by Sigi Osagie that stood apart from other procurement perspectives I’ve come across recently. It observed that soft issues — issues based upon the fundamental mindset of employees — are holding businesses back from realizing their full potential. Although procurement practitioners often have a desire to better their effectiveness, they do not always recognize that these soft issues are the answer to their desire for increased influence and prominence. So how can procurement improve in line with existing performance metrics without loosing perspective of the larger organizational perspective?
This is second in a two-part series. Part 1 can be found here.
Purchasing leaders must not only be great at managing the complex functions of their department, but they must also become savvy communicators who know how to demonstrate the strategic value that the department lends to their organization. In a world of competing budgets and the struggle to hang on to resources, knowing how to market your purchasing organization to power stakeholders is a skill that you must have.
This is (probably) the last in what became an impromptu three-part series on The Point about the value of storytelling for procurement. Part 1 considered applications of the idea in general. In part 2, Dr. Tom DePaoli provided a real world example and some further guidance. The post that started it all, on Executive Presence by Chip Scholz, can be found here.