All posts by Lisa Malone

3 Key Qualities That Help Create an Agile Team

Plenty organisations talk about creating an agile procurement team. However, few actually put the qualities in place to increase their agility.

creating agile teams

I recently attended The Hackett Group’s 2016 ‘European Best Practices Conference’ in London, where Nic Walden, Senior Procurement Advisor, led a Procurement workshop on creating agility.

Speaking to the 40 or so procurement leaders in the room, Nic noted that increasingly agility is the defining trait of world-class procurement teams, both today and in future.

“More agile functions will be better positioned to respond to complex business problems. They can make and implement important decisions quickly, respond rapidly to changes in business demands or priorities, and maintain or improve cost under volatile business conditions”, explained Nic.

But how do you go about developing your team, improve efficiency and move from low to high agility?

Using The Hackett Group’s model, Nic divided the qualities that contribute to agility into three categories:

  • Adaptive Organisation
  • Information Centricity
  • Agile Service Execution

1) Is Your Team Adaptive?

Perhaps most importantly, an agile team must be an adaptive one. There are several ways to achieve this within your organisation:

Keep Learning

With mobility, cloud, artificial intelligence, and supplier networks accelerating at an unprecedented rate, Nic urged workshop participants: “Even if you are not a technologist, it is never too late to become one.”

For example, what are these new technologies? And how might we apply them to create value for our teams and business?

Are you continuously transforming your team’s capabilities to ensure they’re keeping pace with the evolution of the business? To be sustainable, change management should be embedded in your team with the opportunities to continuously upgrade, learn new skills and employ new capabilities.

Change your Strategies

Top management looks to procurement teams to help the business execute purchasing strategies more successfully. In turn, this enables the business to become more agile and innovative.

There is no need to stick to traditional approaches when considering how best to include fresh thinking and new idea generation in your supply base. Leadership teams should make quick decisions, be calculated when it comes to risk taking, and seize opportunities to think and act differently.

Adapt to your Talent

The Millennial Generation represents one of the greatest potential challenges to managing and adapting to talent in the next year or two.

Surveys tell us Millennials are likely to remain in a job for three years or fewer. Training strategies need to be modernised to reflect this accelerated reality, as well as changing learning styles and preferences. Strategies like 70-20-10 that get people up to speed faster and the use of more interactive, workshop and team based formats should be preferred.

The pace at which open positions can be filled affects operational agility, as does the efficiency of your organisation’s on-boarding process.

Given that staff turnover can be high, as in the case of Millennials, it’s crucial to save time here in order to maximise the contributions employees can make to the business.

2) Is information, knowledge and intelligence centric to all your team does?

Perhaps the greatest opportunity remains for many organisations to leverage information to enhance decision making. This opportunity can be looked at much broader than only historic spend data.

Is your team able to navigate information effectively? Do you have the insight to take necessary decisions quickly?

Invest in the right technology

Nic highlighted how “world-class procurement organisations spend 23 per cent more on technology per FTE, and invest a greater proportion of their budget than the peer group on systems and tools to enable analytics capability.”

The right technology, implemented correctly and consistently across teams, is worth the investment.

Know your stakeholders

Make it a priority to engage with and meet your key stakeholders in order to understand their needs, the problems they face and therefore the data needed to solve these problems.

Decision-making should be based on actual information and KPIs tracking value delivery mutually aligned across your team and stakeholders.

Harness the Value of Big Data

It all starts at quality data. Big Data has the potential to transform analytics with real-time intelligence. Procurement leaders are realising that higher-quality information can help them drive greater business value.

Big Data has been a game changer when it comes to customer analytics, offering an unprecedented ability to quickly model massive volumes of structured and unstructured data from multiple sources.

Enhanced and more granular demand sensing and forecast accuracy are obvious examples for procurement and supply chain teams.

Automate Your Reporting

Adopting automated reporting and dashboards helps to streamline information, saves your team time and significantly reduces human error.

Real time reporting allows for speedier, pro-active decision making which will help your organisation to quickly achieve strategic alignment. What’s not to love?

3) Does your team execute service in a responsive, customer centric and agile way?

In an agile team, Nic notes that talent is “empowered, accountable and incentivised to focus single-mindedly on the customer – the internal stakeholder.”

Use Focus Groups To Prioritise

Set up focus groups to provide “voice of the customer” recommendations into what really matters. Your team’s product and service offerings should be designed from the outside in, beginning with the customer experience.

What outcomes or challenges will deliver optimum value? New innovations that your team seeks to implement should be driven as a result of customer and stakeholder feedback.

Act holistically

Try to create an end-to-end customer experience that cuts across multiple procurement (and sometimes other function) processes.

From the beginning, engage and involve the key players (ex. legal, finance, R&D, etc) in the processes that affect the customer experience.

How To Win The Web – Spin a Kick-Ass Personal Brand That Will Get You Noticed

Think you don’t need to worry about how your personal brand appears online? Think again!

img5

There’s no escaping your online personal brand. Whether you like it or not, all your social media accounts are a direct reflection of you – and your organisation. The content you share, or lack thereof, will be under scrutiny from colleagues, employers, employees, suppliers and influencers.

It’s crucial to take ownership of your online presence by defining your own brand. Take charge of what your profile says about you and reap the professional benefits!

Why Does My Personal Brand Matter So Much?

Online connections are the new business currency.  We all prefer to do business with people that we like and deem trustworthy. In developing a stellar personal brand and building your network, you invite connections to get to know you, observe your integrity and build trust before you’ve even met them in person.

As a prospective employee you can bet that your interviewer/future employer will have already scoured your LinkedIn, Twitter and any other accounts they can access. All of these give an insight into who you are both personally and professionally. Make sure you stand out for the right reasons.

It’s just as important to have a killer online profile as a manager. People want to work for bosses who are well connected, and therefore influential. If your profile is underdeveloped, you appear ‘un-connected’ and risk deterring the best talent. People aspire to work for great bosses that can help grow their careers and they will make the first assessment of this by your online brand.

As a procurement professional, the impetus to have a strong online brand is even more important. Before any business development meeting or negotiation, you can be sure your supply-side counterpart will have looked at your profile, seeking information on what matters to you and your experience.

Where Do I Start?

If you know that your online presence could do with a bit of a revamp but aren’t sure where to begin, it’s self-auditing time!

Spend some time considering how you come across as a person. Are you consistent and authentic across different profiles? Would your network be interested in the things you are saying or sharing? What could you change to get yourself noticed by the right people?

Top Tips For Building Your Brand

Once your initial self-audit is complete, there are some key things to remember as you work on expanding your online presence.

1. Leverage Your Key Influencers

To be noticed online, you need a large network of followers. In the early stages of brand development, building an audience is easier said than done, no matter how brilliant your content is.

A more efficient approach is to leverage key influencers in your industry. Promote and share their work, cite them in tweets and reference them in your content to gain access to their audiences and encourage them to, eventually, return the favour. It takes time and commitment but your efforts will be noticed – just one retweet can make a big difference to your social media clout.

2. Don’t Be a Social Media Robot

You’re a real person so don’t shy away from showcasing the more interesting sides of your personality. If we were all to manage our online accounts with a strictly formal and robotic approach, the social media sphere would be a colourless and dreary place to hang out.

It’s the unique quirks of your personality that people are interested in so it’s unsurprising that the most individual posts with eye-catching photos on Procurious or Twitter are the ones which earn the most likes, shares and retweets.

3. Connect, connect, connect

Building a network is a never ending task so make it part of your daily routine.  Invite friends, colleagues and other connections you meet through events to join you.

On Procurious, we strongly recommend connecting with any and all of the members across our 140+ countries who interest you – perhaps they work in the same industry; manage the same category or perhaps you’d just like to know more about procurement practices in Fiji!

4. Don’t fool yourself – Worlds collide!

Particularly when it comes to Twitter, I’m often asked about whether it’s better to maintain separate personal and professional accounts, or opt for a single social media profile.

In my view, aside from the time management benefits of having just one account to feed, your personal brand is the sum of everything you do – or that is said about you – online.

Trust grows from authenticity. So regardless of how you structure your profiles online, both personal and professional will reflect your overall brand.

If in doubt when posting online, follow this checklist:

  • Does this add to the conversation?
  • Are there any spelling mistakes here? 
  • Does it make sense, would you really talk like that?
  • Would I care if my boss or, more importantly, my mum, read this?

5. Lose the Mask

 Unless you’re batman, you don’t want to keep your identity an online secret. Make yourself searchable on social media by using your full name and your current role. Add up to date photographs so people can put a face to a name.

And make sure your Twitter handle (or gmail account) isn’t some obscure, irrelevant gabble from your teenage years!

Who’s Getting It Right?

If you’re still in need of some further inspiration, look no further than Marie Forleo, entrepreneur, writer and creator of a socially conscious digital empire, enjoyed by millions. Whilst you don’t have to develop your online presence on quite such a large scale, Marie’s website might inspire and motivate you to better your brand!

The Procurious Boot Camp will increase your stamina, get you in the best career shape of your life and help you to punch above your weight.

It’s not too late to sign up. Enlist here and get access to our 15 free podcasts from some of the best career coaches around. Don’t miss out – your career will thank you for it!   

Leveraging the Power of The Crowd

Fresh from my 15 minutes of fame in the Big Ideas film booth, here’s the gist of my Big Ideas video challenge (coming to Procurious soon!) about leveraging the power of the crowd.

The Crowd

Delivering innovation is top of the CEO’s growth agenda. Developing a creative culture, one in which ideas can be offered without fear and allowed to fail fast, is critical to this. But what tangible actions can we take to create this kind of culture? And how to distinguish between the ideas that bomb, and the ideas that pay?

Once a phenomenon amongst hoodie-wearing Silicon Valley “Coders”, hackathons are now being embraced by industries and organisations of all sizes, to crowd-source innovative ideas and create new product developments.

In fact, some of the most successful products we use today, such as Google Maps, were born from hackathons.

Precious Opportunities

The term itself can be misleading. Rather than some kind of subversive counter-security activity, hackathons are a crowd-sourcing, creative event, where organisations make enormous amounts of data available to teams. The teams, who are often working competitively, are dared to ‘think the unthinkable’ and brainstorm solutions.

Usually occurring over the course of one, or even several days, a hackathon is a rare and precious opportunity to work ‘on the business’ rather than ‘in the business’. Who wouldn’t agree that it’s hard to think ‘big’ when buried deep in the day-to-day minutiae?

By taking a day out to ‘think big’, innovation can be fostered and new ideas prototyped quickly, with the most commercially viable options being presented for further R&D. At these events, no idea is too “off the wall”, and every idea from every participant is considered equally and fairly, before any final decisions are made.

Hackathons are also an opportunity for different people and teams that might not otherwise meet, let a lone work together, to socialise, and share processes and skills.

Outside Comfort Zones

I think we can all be guilty of sitting inside our comfort zones. It is something that is all too frequently reinforced by silo-ed organisational structures, and misaligned incentives, between between departments.

The concept can also extend beyond the bounds of the business itself. As the interface between the business and the supply chain, Procurement has an important role to play in inviting suppliers and customers to take part, and contribute their thinking to the hackathon too. Think of it as the old ‘Supplier Day’ on steroids!

And finally, the combination of working quickly, working collaboratively, and working on something that isn’t necessarily within your traditional job scope, can not only lead to some Big Ideas, but can be enormously energising and intellectually stimulating.

So my message is, use the power of the crowd and hack your way to success!

Eat the Frog…and 6 More Tips for Boosting Personal Effectiveness in 2016

Congratulations – you’ve survived your first day back in the office! You’ve cleared your inbox, written an alarmingly long To-Do list and even written your name and phone number (neatly) in a brand new Moleskin notebook. You’re practically smug with a sense of organisation and readiness.

Eat The Frog

Fast-forward one week: 213 unread emails, endless meetings, doing ‘real work’ after 5pm, and back to scribbling on loose-leaf.

Many years ago, I sat next to the Executive Assistant for the Chief Marketing Officer at a very large bank. To me – a person who is calm in the face of 1352 unread emails – Ali was something of a mystery: alarmingly organised, a spreadsheet navigator-extraordinaire, and always ready with colour-coded sticky notes, Ali’s idea of heaven was a Scandinavian Container Store.

Although I can’t pretend that proximity to Ali transformed me into a Type-A Goddess, she did share some great, practical tips for increasingly personal effectiveness that I pass onto all fellow Type B’s today.

Eat the Frog

Most of us have a limited amount of willpower that decreases steadily throughout the day. Anyone who has ever planned to go to the gym after work, only to never actually get there will be able to attest!

For this reason, professional coaches like Brian Tracy recommend getting the hardest, most important task done first.

According to Tracy, your ‘frog’ should be the most difficult item on your to-do list; that ugly, distasteful, difficult job that you’re most likely to procrastinate about.

Rather than delaying, dreading and allowing your frog to sit there, staring at you while you do other less important things, eat it up first and feel energised for the rest of the day.

You probably already know what your frog is, but if you are in any doubt, look through your list of tasks and rate each one according to:

  1. Things you don’t want to do, and actually don’t need to do.
  2. Things you don’t want to do, but actually need to do.
  3. Things you want to do and actually need to do.
  4. Things you want to do, but actually don’t need to do.

Your frog will fall into Category 2, and the best way to ensure it doesn’t fall victim to procrastination is to subordinate it to habit.

Eating your frog at the start of the day is just such a habit and will leave you free to do things you’ll actually enjoy.

Meeting 101: Spend less time in Meetings

Getting out and meeting stakeholders and suppliers is a critical part of any procurement professional’s job, but what about the myriad meetings that go round in circles, without any clear outcomes, sucking energy and time from your day?

In this world of instant messaging tools (we have a fondness for Slack at Procurious) that make file-sharing, getting answers quickly, and making introductions easier, it should be possible to cut back on a lot of those meetings.

Where only a meeting will suffice, here are some hints for improving their effectiveness:

  • Only accept meetings where the organiser has sent through a clear agenda. Even then, think about halving the allotted time to create a sense of urgency.
  • With 10 minutes of the meeting to go, review the objectives and clearly agree what action items have come out of the meeting and who will be responsible for completing these. Set a clear date for completion of next steps.
  • If appropriate, try scheduling a walking meeting. A change of scenery and the action of moving in the fresh air can help clear the head, stimulate creativity and can be particularly effective when having conversations that you don’t want to.

Don’t Skip Lunch

The 80s might be long gone, but Gordon Gekko’s “Lunch is for wimps!” philosophy still is alive and well in some firms.

While its possible to mistake ‘busy-ness’ for importance, evidence shows there are significant cognitive benefits of allowing our fatigued brains regular downtime.

So what’s the perfect work/rest ratio?

DeskTime App monitored employees’ computer use and found that the most productive 10 per cent of employees tend to work hard for 52 minutes, then take a break for 17. If this seems short, it is – our brains can in fact focus for up to 90 minutes, but then need roughly 20 minutes rest.

Strategic breaks equal more efficient work. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your 17 minutes should be spent online shopping – there are a multitude of more valuable (and less costly!) things you can do to refresh and reset:

  • Most gyms offer express classes at lunchtime. Consider taking a 45-minute yoga class to reset your brain and energise you for the afternoon.
  • Watch a 2-minute eLearning video or stretch your mind with a Big Ideas video or Ted Talk.
  • Prepare a list of easy 2-minute tasks, things that won’t stress your grey matter but need to get done, that you can tick off in your down time.
  • Embrace a creative pursuit. Stimulate your brain by doing small creative exercise daily. This might be a little sketch, writing a blog, or making a video. Share your habit daily on Twitter or Instagram – it builds accountability. Check out #yearofcreativehabits for inspiration!

Silence

Silence!!

The constant stream of chimes, pings, flashes and emails, Whatsapp and Facebook alerts is impossible to ignore – it’s designed to be that way!

Schedule at least 3 x 30 minute sessions into your day where you close Outlook, shut all your browser tabs and turn off your mobile phone.

It might sound scary at first, but it will help you power through those difficult tasks without interruption and at the end of the day, you’ll feel real satisfaction knowing what you’ve completed.

Harness the Power of Habit

We know that social media can eat up hours in the day. How often have you kicked off with a valid Google search, only to find yourself aimlessly clicking through old school-friends’ baby photos or reading click-bait articles like 21 Life-Changing Lessons From The Dalai Lama’s Twitter Account”. 

At Procurious, we talk about establishing a ‘social media daily habit’. This isn’t only to limit the time you spend online, but to ensure you spend it wisely.

We suggest you dedicate approximately 20 minutes every day (and where you can, twice a day) to ticking off value-adding tasks:

  1. Build your network: Aim to expand your global contacts by connecting with stakeholders, peers you’ve met at conferences, thought leaders or find colleagues who look after similar categories in other geographies or industries.
  2. Scan the news: Using Google Alerts or Twitter hashtags, find out if your company, your category, your suppliers or even your competitors have been in the headlines. Login to Procurious and check out what’s happening.
  3. Share the intelligence: If you find something interesting, chances are someone else will too. Share the URL on Twitter, Procurious and/or LinkedIn.
  4. Ask a question: Scan the Discussion Board on Procurious and share your knowledge. If you’ve got a burning question, post it and make the most of this global brains trust!
  5. Learn something: Brush up on your skills and challenge your thinking by watching a 5-minute eLearning video or listening to a Podcast

And Before You Go…

Rather than working frantically right up until the last minute of the day, slamming your laptop shut and dashing for the train, stop working 30 min before you need to leave.

Use your last half an hour to review your day’s plan, transferring items that are still relevant, and adding any new priorities that have emerged during the day.

Categorise these tasks according to the Eat the Frog principles so that your first task tomorrow is ready and waiting to go.

And, unless you are fortunate enough to have a Personal Assistant, review your calendar and print out any documents that you may need to review ahead of meetings. Spending the first 30 minutes of your morning fighting with a printer is not the way to productivity!

Why It Makes Sense To Do Business In Africa

Sitting amidst the buzz of 300+ SME exhibitors in the Enterprise Development Hall in Johannesburg, it’s not hard to see why Harvard Business Review (HBR) believes Africa’s time is now.

Doing Business in South Africa

Here to attend and speak at the Smart Procurement Conference, this has been my first trip to South Africa and I’ll leave tonight with an overwhelming sense of four things:

  1. The warmth and friendliness of the South African people
  2. Their relentless desire to connect and learn
  3. An all pervasive energy to try new things and support the country’s growth
  4. The truly excellent beef. Really, it’s delicious!

It was very good fortune then that as I was about to make my way back to the hotel, I happened upon Selven Moodley’s presentation in the Knowledge Hub, titled: Doing Business in Africa.

As Selven explained, two years ago, Harvard Business School, identified 7 Reasons Why Africa’s Time is now. As you’ll see below, all continue to apply:

  1. Africa has huge market potential

There are 52 cities on the continent with populations of 1 million or more – the same as Europe. And don’t be fooled by outdated misconceptions – there is a middle-class here which is bigger than India’s and who need everything from healthcare, to retail, to telecommunications.

  1. The region is increasingly stable

Africa appears to have entered a modern era of greater stability, particularly in Sub-Saharan content, with a declining number of coups. Though moving at different rates across the continent, political reform is also underway.

  1. Africa has the world’s largest workforce

By 2035, Africa’s workforce will outnumber China’s and this paired with the Government’s growing investment in education, could prove game changing.

  1. Mobile traffic exploding

Mobile penetration, which stood at 2 per cent in 2000, has increased to half a billion subscribers (just shy of 80 per cent) in 15 years. As handsets become more affordable and the internet is democratised through low cost data for rich and poor, this trend will only accelerate.

One quick word of warning: Don’t necessarily expect your African procurement or supply partners to be on WhatsApp just yet. Smartphones remain very much in the minority, making up only 15 per cent of overall mobile phone usage so you may need to figure out how to do business with non-smart phones for a time yet.

  1. Intra African trade is in its infancy

Intra-African trade currently only accounts for 11 per cent of South African trade. With Government mandated investment in local content and a subsequent boom in SMEs, there is enormous potential to move the needle on this.

  1. Increasing Government spend on education

On average, African countries spend nearly twice what OECD governments spend on education.

  1. Africa contains most of the world’s arable land

A fact that surprised me, were you aware 60 per cent of the world’s uncultivated farmland is in Africa?

Of all these reasons, Number 5, the potential for Intra African Trade cannot be understated.

Selvern offered the example of one of his Ghanaian clients who imports large quantities of copper cabling from China. Selvern queried the origin of the copper, only to discover it is mined in Zambia, before being taken to China, made into cable and only then sent back to Africa. Imagine the benefits – cost, speed, continuity etc. – if Africa was able to produce the wiring in-region?

Number 6, Education, also feels to me to be a tipping point. Although secondary school enrolment remains low across the region by world standards, the talented individuals I met at Smart Procurement World were truly exceptional and I’ve never felt a stronger thirst for learning at a procurement conference before. If Africa can develop skills in those areas that will drive the economy, then when paired with the size of its workforce, will eventually challenge China and India for supremacy in this area.

Without getting into the myriad of environmental issues that accompany the destruction of natural habitats for farming, Africa clearly has the potential to become an agricultural powerhouse. Add to this oil, gas and her other natural riches, and it’s safe to say that if Africa is not already part of your supply network (or even consumer market), it almost certainly will be in the near future.

Speaking with the entrepreneurial business owners in the Enterprise Development hall, I am struck by the fact that to be successful here in Africa, foreign investors must use local businesses, hire local people, and likely, produce for the local market. To do otherwise, will not only short-change Africa but deprive your business of the experience, innovation and local know-how that exists here.

While Selven’s advice was directed to SME owners, I have a feeling his tips are just as applicable for Procurement professionals looking to do business for the first time in the region (or any new geography for that matter).

Selven’s advice follows:

  • Understand market you are operating in
  • Understand the logistics of operating in Africa
  • Familiarize yourself with trade agreements, export processes, workforce agreements
  • Interact regularly in your field to learn and determine if there are opportunities as both buyers and suppliers to ‘hunt in a pack’
  • Understand the support mechanisms offered by Government incentive schemes, NGOs, insurance businesses etc.
  • Get out from behind the desk, go work in the field. Link up with a partner in country to accelerate your learning

Naturally this last piece of advice is music to my ears, highlighting yet again, the value of building your global procurement network here on Procurious!

If you are one of our new African members to Procurious, don’t forget to join the African Procurement Professionals Group here.

Why CPOs and CIOs are the new #BFF (That’s Best Friend Forever, duh!)

Lisa Malone writes from The Smart Procurement World Conference, held this week in Johannesburg, South Africa (On Twitter? Follow @SmartSPW).

Why CPOs and CIOs are the new #BFF

With the exception of Supplier Development (more on this in a future article), technology, specifically Cloud-based solutions and social media, has been the hot topic of this Smart Procurement World Conference.

This should come as no surprise really… Technological change has never been more rapid, nor impacted more areas of the business. Today everything from regulatory requirements, internal controls, data mining, business intelligence, supply chain visibility and customer experience, are largely controlled by technology platforms.

Technology has not only changed the way we are running our businesses internally, but increasingly businesses are pivoting and building their entire value proposition on the back of technology.

Take for example some of the globe’s fastest growing businesses: Uber and Airbnb have both disrupted their respective industries and rather than a physical product or service, have a technology interface at their core.

Between robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing and Terahertz imaging, technology is undoubtedly disrupting the way every business operates. For some, this paints an exciting vision of the future, but for others it’s downright scary.

What all this change makes implicit is the growing importance for CPOs to develop closer working relationships with the CIO.

Mariette Steyn, VP Supply Africa, South 32, opened discussions on the Ariba Panel today by saying CPOs need to have a much greater appreciation of the business’ technology roadmap.

“CPOs must develop a much deeper understanding of the role technology will play in the future of their industry and business.

“With technology so central to competitive advantage, buying technology at the lowest price will rarely be seen by the C-Level as delivering value.”

Mariette’s second observation is that CPOs now, more than ever, need to speak the language of the business.

It should be noted that the ability to have intelligent conversations with functional stakeholders (and particularly, being able to speak the language of finance, is nothing new.

If you’re not aged between the ages of 13 – 17 (where this kind of linguistic ability is achieved through osmosis) or a bona fide technology-geek, talking tech can be especially tough. The mere mention of Tweets, hashtags, or tera-bytes, never mind API, RSS feeds and Xcode and plenty of CPOs’ eyes will simply glaze over.

But with technology increasingly becoming the business (rather than a physical product or service), tech literacy will soon be fundamental for every businessperson and in particular, CPOs.

It goes further than this: In the resources sector, where cash is king, Maria explains it’s not simply about being able to talk the technical advantages of Cloud. The best CPOs will be multi-lingual, jumping effortlessly between CIO-ese and CFO-ese.

“In one breath, I need to speak intelligently about Cloud solutions with my CIO, and in the next breath, translate this message, or rather sell Cloud’s to the CFO on it’s ability to scale, accuracy of forecasting and where it makes sense, the benefits of moving spend from CAPEX to OPEX.”

If only it were that simple… These days you’ll be expected to help your CIO articulate potential financial implications in one breath, while bestowing the benefits of using operating expenses to account for technology investments in the other.

Speaking from their own decoupling with BHP Billiton, Mariette also explains that in their case, the conversation could be framed in terms of Cloud’s advantages in a demerger environment.

“Not having to physically pick up a server means you can exploit the technology and decouple technology far more quickly.

Were you at the Smart Procurement World Conference too? Follow along with our coverage on Twitter and Tweet @SmartSPW.

Why design eats discipline for breakfast

Dan Gregory shared his views on fostering innovation, lifting team engagement, understanding customer mindsets and exploring what makes you tick as a leader.

Dan Gregory

Driving change is about two things: Discipline and Motivation. Right? Wrong, says Dan Gregory, President and CEO of The Impossible Institute and regular on The ABC’s Gruen Transfer. 

Leaders, personal trainers and new-age coaches, strive to motivate us in order to lift performance, while high achievers and perfectionist Virgos turn to punishing self-discipline to achieve their goals.

Discipline and motivation are great, but the problem with both is they are only ever intended to be used in short bursts, to effect short-term change.

“No one – not even the impossibly perfect Michelle Bridges – is disciplined in every aspect of their life, every moment of the day,” reminds Gregory.

And what happens when these short measures fail?  We feel let down, we blame the people involved (often ourselves) rather than the strategies we’ve chosen. (Anyone who has ever been on a diet knows this feeling!)

Speaking at the Future Leaders in Procurement Forum (FLIP 2015) in Melbourne on 12 May, Gregory offers his own personal example: 

“Last year I decided I wanted to spend more time at home. I was driven I was disciplined.  But at the end of the year, when I looked back on my own ‘on time performance’, no matter how meticulous I was about turning off the computer at 5pm, it never made much difference.”

“And here’s the design flaw,” says Dan, “I live one hour’s drive from work. That’s two-hours per day and an extra 10 hours a week,”

Procurement professionals will already be doing the math:  This equates to 52 extra (long) days a year, which is very nearly an annual total of an extra 2 months a year away from home!”

Motivation won’t solve that problem.  Discipline can’t solve that problem.

This is a design failure. 

Forget cheesy motivational slogans, or brutal self-discipline. If Gregory simply moved the office half an hour closer to his home or vice versa), he would almost effortlessly gain an extra month a year at home.

And here in lies the real problem – we don’t design for failure in our lives or in our industries. 

Aeronautic engineers are a different breed: They build failure into their designs and processes. 

Citing the example of Captain Richard de Crespigny and the miraculous landing of badly damaged QF32, Gregory notes that in most cases, even if half the engines go down, the A380 just about refuses to fall out of the sky.

Stop and think for a moment what would happen to your business if 50 per cent of your customers went elsewhere, or half of your workforce didn’t show up?  

Sobering, no?  

Gregory’s advice to Procurement leaders is to start by thinking about where you’re applying discipline… and where design would achieve a better, more lasting outcome.

“Design the process to fit the people, not the other way around,”

“The real key is how long you need the change to endure,” says Dan, “Because in the long run, design will always trump discipline.”

9 Killer Questions for Corporate Mega Stars

So you’ve found yourself a mentor. Congratulations. They have a glittering CV, impeccable corporate track-record and stirring leadership vision. There’s only one problem:  you’re terrified of creating an awkward ‘tumbleweed moment’ by asking your corporate superstar a stupid question.  

tumbleweed-roadkill_LRG

Having a mentor can be one of the most valuable assets for career growth. So while some will tell you ‘there’s no such thing as a silly question’, its also understandable that you want to be smart, poised and considered in front of your career idol and make the most of their (and your) time.

Tomorrow, more than 30 of Australia’s brightest rising stars will gather for Future Leaders in Procurement (FLiP 2015) in Melbourne.

Delegates will have a once-in-a-career opportunity to sit down with some of Australia’s leading CPOs in a master class session to discuss and debate perspectives and seek leadership tips for their own career.

Here’s a list of 9 great questions that will take the pressure off and help you make the most of your ‘hour of power’ with a corporate mega-star:

  1. As a leader, what are the things that only you can do?
  2. Where do you ‘big ideas’ come from, i.e. what is the context in which you feel most inspired?
  3. What are the issues that keep you awake at night?
  4. What is the one behaviour that you have seen derail more leaders’ careers than any other?
  5. What impact has networking had on your career?
  6. Who else would you recommend I connect with?
  7. What tips do you have for working smarter?
  8. What would you do if you were me?

And if you’ve still got time left over (or better still, the promise of a second mentoring meeting), ask your mentor: “How can I help you?”

Most leaders will be accustomed to mentees who are only interested in what they can take away from the meeting, so demonstrate a willingness to create a win:win relationship and recognise you have a unique vantage point too.

What are the best questions you’ve been asked as a mentor? 

 

 

Procurious Big Idea #2 – Revolutionising Procurement Recruitment

Andrew MacAskill, Managing Director at Executives Online, wants to revolutionise procurement recruitment.

Andrew says: Why don’t we flip the procurement recruitment process on its head? Start with reference checks and psychometric testing to find out if the candidate matches the skills and experience needed for the role before investing in an interview.

See more Big Ideas from our 40 influencers

Chinese New Year – What you need to know

The world’s largest human migration is well underway as more than 3 billion trips are made by students, migrant workers and office employees journeying home to celebrate Chinese New Year.

What does Chinese New Year mean for supply chains?

Spanning a total of 15 days, Chinese New Year – also known as the Spring Festival – is the longest and most important national holiday in China.

Celebrations, however, extend far beyond Chinese borders with roughly one sixth of the world’s population set to welcome the Year of Goat.

Ten years ago, the Chinese New Year holiday had little impact outside of China. But today, the oversized influence of China on global manufacturing and financial markets means celebrations will create significant ripples for business and the world economy.

The ‘world’s factory’ shuts down

The vast majority of Chinese factory workers live away from home, so the New Year – a period marked by culturally important ‘new year visits’ and reunion meals with kin, means that virtually all workers will down tools and embark on (often lengthy) journeys home to celebrate with family.

The complete shut down of ‘the world’s factory’ poses a headache for any business with supply chain operations in China (or any country with a large Chinese-speaking population for that matter), including: Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia.

And the chaos doesn’t end with manufacturing – pilots, freight workers, stevedores and truck drivers all head home and logistics grind to a standstill. Freight simply does not move for the week surrounding Chinese New Year.

In 2015, New Year celebrations officially begins on February 19th and end on February 25th, although workers are known to take up to two-weeks in advance, to make the long journey home.

Experts advise businesses should plan for no production or dispatches leaving China during the entire month of February, and for reduced output during the first half of March.  FedEx, UPS, and DHL post the expected delays on their websites, so business and consumers alike should utilize that information.

Beware of quality drops

Businesses are also advised to pay particular attention to their QA processes immediately after Chinese New Year, which is a prime time for Chinese workers to switch jobs.

As you’d expect, the impact of this spike in turnover is that inexperienced staff with little or no training often run post-New Year production, and staff shortages can hold-up production.

Global Shopping Spree

The news is not all bad for business: Chinese New Year is symbolically an auspicious time to buy and wear new clothes to signify the New Year. As Chinese prosperity continues to rise, this means big business for luxury brands. Last year, Chinese spending in Britain alone jumped 23 per cent over February as compared to 2012.

British retailers, including Harrods, Selfridges and Burberry, have also been quick to jump on the band wagon and are selling their own branded ‘hong-bao’ or red-envelopes traditionally given to Chinese children at this time of year.

How to join in the celebrations

If you can’t make it to The Bund for this year’s best celebrations, here are just some of the other places you can welcome in the New Year:

London – Join the celebrations on 22 February from 10am to 6pm in Trafalgar Square, which include a parade through the West End.

Melbourne – Chinese dragons, lions and street performers will fill Little Bourke Street on 22 February 10am – 10pm and a weekend of celebrations and heavenly hawker food will be available along Crown Riverfront.

New York – More than 6,000 people are expected to turn out for the Annual Lunar New Year Parade on 22 February which will wind its way through Chinatown.

Singapore – The celebrations go on all month long – just head to Chinatown!

San Francisco – Boasting the largest parade outside of China, catch all the action in Chinatown on Saturday, March 7, 2015 5:15pm-8pm

And so with that: “Gong Xi Fa Cai” to all our Procurious members celebrating in 2015!

Read more about the impact the Year of the Goat has on the world economy here.