All posts by Tania Seary

Take The Disney Approach To Procurement

Learn how to drive procurement change programmes like a Disney Executive.

Chih Hsuan Peng/Shutterstock.com

Founder Tania Seary and the Procurious team are at Walt Disney World Florida for ISM2017. Today, she shares some timely advice on  what Procurement can learn from the famous Disney Formula.

Here’s a little-known fact – I used to work for the Walt Disney Company. Over twenty-five years ago I was a Marketing Co-ordinator in Disney’s International TV Department based in Soho Square, London.

The rest of the team (not me, unfortunately) used to travel to Cannes for the TV Festival each year to support our roll-out of Disney Clubs. It was all very glamorous (for some) and very educational for me.

In one way (at least), I was a perfect fit for a job with Disney. If you’ve ever caught one of my podcasts here on Procurious or elsewhere, you may have heard my voice.

Let’s just say it’s “unfortunate” – quite high in pitch, scratchy…not pleasant! Some of my friends at the time claimed that my role with Disney was actually as the voice-over for Minnie Mouse. Cruel, but understandable!

I learned so much during my time there, but today I want to focus on what I picked up by experiencing the Disney marketing machine first-hand. I am sure many of you have heard about “the Disney formula”, which involves a core asset (the story) being rolled out and leveraged in its many formats.

My short-hand way of summarising this phenomenally successful technique is to categorise the formula into “the book, the movie, the merchandise, the ride – and the tweet”.

Drive Procurement Change Programmes like a Disney Executive

CPOs today are paid to drive global change – but are the programmes we put in place really that effective? Deft change management is what separates the good from the great.

I want to encourage you all to take a very professional, systematic approach to driving change with this Disney-inspired formula.

The Book

At the heart of every Disney project lies the book, or the original script. For CPOs, our “book” is the business case for the change program. This proposal, or argument for action, is the foundation of your change programme that must win the endorsement of your senior leadership team. Without the business case, your campaign has no foundation and will always be on shaky ground.

My advice is to treat your “book” the same way that the world’s best authors approach their craft – write, re-write, and re-write again until you’re 100 per cent confident that you’ve created a rock-solid, engaging business case that meets your organisation’s requirements.

The Movie

Think about some of the lengthy classics that Disney has converted into film. Whether it’s The Jungle Book, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame or Treasure Island, the editors have managed to bring the story down to an average of 1.5 hours. Your “movie” is the public, dramatic expression of your story.

Not everyone will have the time, nor the interest, to read the business case for your change programme, so it’s important to condense it into a version that’s palatable for all. In the corporate world, this is often referred to as “the deck” – or even just a snappy executive summary. 

The Merchandise

Disney has always done an amazing job of licensing their characters to consumer goods companies. Procurement, on the other hand, is notoriously poor at marketing themselves internally.

I’m not suggesting that you order in a range of paperweights or mousepads to promote your change management programme, but it’s worth considering an effective logo or even a slogan that will encapsulate and amplify your message.

Why not reach out to your colleagues in marketing for their creative input? 

The Ride

When I worked at Disney all those years ago, the most profitable part of the business was their theme parks. As part of their marketing formula, amusement rides were based on Disney’s most popular movies and TV shows. But how can this be applied to your change management programme? 

Well, I once heard that if you want to get a message across to employees, you need to communicate it eleven times before it’s absorbed. Why eleven, I have no idea! This is where the ride comes in.

Once you’ve converted your “book” into a “movie”, hop on “the ride” which will repeat the same message over and over again until your program has been accepted.

It doesn’t necessarily need to follow the same track – best-practice communication involves delivering your message via multiple platforms (newsletters, emails, the company intranet, posters and social media) to keep the message fresh and engaging.

A Modern-Day Addition: The Tweet

When I was at Walt Disney, there was no social media. I’ve just checked the #Disney hashtag on Twitter and it’s incredible to see how many accounts they’re running concurrently: @Disney, @DisneyPixar, @WaltDisneyWorld, @Disney Channel, @DisneyMusic. This doesn’t even cover the individual hashtags dedicated to each new movie, along with a legion of unofficial, fan-based accounts.

Disney understands that social media is essential for getting their message to where their audience spends its time. CPOs need to take the same approach. Social media, used intelligently, is an irreplaceable tool in their global change management kit.

Yammer, Procurious and LinkedIn are just some of the many platforms that can be used to engage and influence your team to help them understand the why – and the how – of your change program.

I’ve looked to Disney for my inspiration due to having first-hand experience with their marketing techniques all those years ago in Soho. However, they certainly aren’t the only organisation with a magic formula.

If you’re considering a change management programme, save yourself some time and energy by finding your own inspirational company who demonstrate best-practice, steal their formula, and get to work!

Tania will be delivering her top tips at ISM2017 on how to Network Your Way To The Top on Tuesday May 23rd, 3.45pm. Visit Procurious in the exhibit hall at booth 439!

Time Management: Sorry, You’re Just Not A Priority For Me

A colleague once told me there’s “a special place in hell” for people who don’t return emails. Yes, it’s frustrating, particularly when projects are held up. It’s easy to see these people as blockers, but it may well be they are actually managing their time much more effectively than you……

Lipik Stock Media/Shutterstock.com

Modern wisdom would have us believe that our time management has a direct impact on our personal and professional success.

People who know their priorities and have the discipline to work their way down their to-do list from top to bottom definitely seem to win the day. But for us mere mortals, it often seems impossible to juggle all of our commitments at once.

How to get your priorities as a priority on others’ to-do list is a blog for another day. Today I want to ask how well you are managing your time? Do you know which aspects of your life should be an absolute priority? And offer five tips on how to make your time work for you.

The time bomb that always ticks

In her Walt Street Journal article, “Are you as busy as you think?” Laura Vanderkam reminds us that although we all think we’re very busy, we spend long stretches of time lost on the Internet or puttering around the house, unsure exactly what we are doing.

As Vanderkam says, “We all have the same 168 hours per week, but since time passes whether we acknowledge it or not, we seldom think through exactly how we’re spending our hours.”

Are you a priority?

We all make time for what we feel is important in our lives – but have you critically thought through what is REALLY important in your life? That’s our priorities become clear and we can more deftly make decisions about the use of our time.

Being blessed with three businesses, two children, an amazing bunch of friends and a husband who constantly travels the world, one of the skills I pride myself on has been my ability to manage time. I may rarely “be on time” (a glaring and embarrassing fault)….but I do manage to “make the most of my time”.

How? Because I plan just about everything (including doing nothing!) down to the day and almost a year in advance. I don’t always get it right, but feel confident enough to share with you four pieces of advice.

1. Make time to plan your time

It sounds like double dutch, but we need to make time to plan our time. There are so many people who don’t actually invest the time to think through how they want to spend their time. Once you now your priorities, it becomes easier to allocate how much time you want to devote to work, rest and play. My husband and I literally have face to face formal meetings and teleconferences during work hours to co-ordinate and plan our time well in advance.

2. Map your plan on a page

Now this is very nerdy…but over the years we’ve perfected an A3 colour coded six-month calendar. Our friends and colleagues laugh at us, but it’s the best method we know to get a high level overview of how we are going to spend our time whether it’s business commitments, travel, school holidays or social plans. Most importantly, this allows us to identify when things are just “too crazy” and where we have to say no and change what we had originally planned to make sure we don’t push our family to breaking point.

3. Record it all into one place

Your diary is your friend, not your foe, when it comes to freeing up time. Once again it sounds basic but having all of your commitments in one place, ideally electronically, saves a lot of discussion, confusion and potential marital disagreements! For some people it works to have every single commitment in Microsoft Outlook, with all the details for each event included. It is a one-stop shop – school holidays, children’s sporting commitments, parties, as well as all the business stuff all in one spot. This can help to identify potential clashes immediately and makes it clear to everyone who is doing what, when.

4. Plan to do nothing

The only real luxury in life is time. You can’t get time back.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but you have to make sure you include “doing nothing” in your schedule.

Many years ago a friend gave me some priceless advice on how to decline an invitation: “Tell them you have plans. If your plan is to do nothing, then that’s your plan. You’re busy, you can’t go.”

Having “plans” to do nothing doesn’t mean catching up with friends, hitting the gym, doing a cooking class or going shopping. It means literally doing nothing. No commitments, no appointments, the freedom, if you choose, to absolutely do nothing.

5. Allow for some flexibility

I speculated at the beginning of this article that the elusive person who doesn’t return your emails may actually be managing their time more effectively than you. It’s possible that they’ve made a plan, they’re going to stick to it and they’re not going to let your request, however urgent, de-rail their day. Flexibility is of course vital – there are some issues (and people) that you simply can’t afford to ignore – but better time-management will grant you a level of flexibility that you otherwise would never have.

One thing I learnt early on in my time management journey, was that by scheduling everything, even my social life, down to the last minute, I was still left with the feeling that I had no free time. It’s important to have a lot of days in the year where you have the luxury of waking up and saying “what will I do today?”. There’s real freedom in that, which takes the stress away. Career and life resilience is about building in, and enforcing, some circuit breakers to help you cope when life becomes overloaded with the inevitable unexpected, unanticipated events.

Working Parents: Stop Hiding Your Children at Work

Supercharging my career and nurturing my family at the same time has always been a struggle for me….until I brought my children out of the closet and into the workplace.

 

 

 

Join our Women in Procurement group, Bravo,  here.

Last week,  Professor Robert E Kelly and his two mischievous children starred in one of the funniest viral videos of all time. The whole world laughed when, in the middle of a live BBC interview, Professor Kelly’s children burst in to the room and hilariously upstaged him.

If the clip has, by some miracle, passed you by, here it is in all of its side-splitting glory:

Yes, it’s pretty funny. But let’s face it, how many times have you closed the door on your children, locked them away in a (metaphorical) closet or pushed them away when you had to perform your professional duties.

In reality, we’re constantly keeping our families behind closed doors so we can get on with our working lives. For years I have felt the need to downplay my family commitments in order to be seen as a serious career professional.

My stress levels were continually going through the roof. I was gliding over the surface with style at work, but paddling like a crazy duck under the waterline in an attempt to manage all the demands of my personal life.

But a year or so ago I decided to bring my children more visibly into my work life and it has made a big difference to me, my children…and – most importantly – those I work with.

My first foray with bringing my children to work was to take my son to Europe’s largest procurement conference, ProcureCon, Berlin. I was a speaker on a panel and thought it would be a great chance for my son to see me in action. So much for him learning about my work: he didn’t look up from his iPad once! I don’t think he learnt a squat about what I did, but at least I made the effort. Importantly, I was really touched that people were positive about my son attending the event.

One of my fellow delegates sent me this note –

“You and I met in Berlin last month at the ProcureCon Europe Conference. I admired how you were able to be real without dropping the ball on exuding leadership and kindness! But, I think that what really impressed me was that you brought your beautiful son to the conference, he was so sweet and shy! In bringing him with you, without realising it, you managed to reflect what most women go through when we have to work long hours or travel a great deal, away from our families and loved ones. There have been times that in my travels or long hours I wish I could just have my babies near me…the guilt of being dedicated to the person that makes me who I am, can be a bit heavy. But we all do, both men and women, to provide for our families, while at the same time try to get something out of the sacrifices that we may have to make. So, I sincerely thank you for bringing your son with you.”

My second foray was to take my younger son to listen to a speech I made at the Australian Embassy for Future Leaders. When I asked him about the experience afterwards, he thought about it and said, “The lemonade was great”. Another breakthrough (not)!

I know not everyone has the same flexibility as someone who runs their own company. However, as business leaders, we can do a lot to help manage the stress levels of working parents. We need to walk the talk and recognise that everyone has priorities (and not always children) that compete with work.

Here are my four ideas on how we could stop hiding our children at work and build more fluid relationships between work and home.

1.  Talk about Family

In the early days of parenthood I never spoke about my children in the workplace because I wanted to be seen as “professional”. When I first started sharing small amounts of information about my family, I realised that most of the people I worked with were parents too and could totally relate to my plight. In the right circumstances, sharing family stories has actually helped me build business relationships.

2. Take your children to work 

I have lived through so many tough days when I felt I really had to be in two places at once.  For example, having a “career-changing” meeting planned (luckily these are few and far between and the skill is in knowing which meetings really count) and, just as I was about to get started, receiving a compelling, competing call for my attention,  from a family member. These were the times when my stress levels reached an all time high and I started to think that the only solution was to quit my job and focus solely on family.

Working from home is widely accepted on these types of days, but if you were still wanting to fulfill your work obligations for just one or two hours, wouldn’t it be great if we were “allowed” to bring our family into the office?? I can hear the pressure valve release at the mere thought of it!

3. Put children in the picture 

We need more imagery of children in the places where we are building our careers. Perhaps you’ve seen the image that went viral of a US Professor who picked up and carried a crying baby during a lecture? He calmed the child, allowing the class to continue and, most importantly, the parent to complete the class.

Some of the most popular photos of outgoing US President, Barack Obama, have been with children within the White House, which is his normal place of work. We need to see more child-friendly work imagery.

4.    Remember – Everyone has priorities 

Having said all of this, working parents need to be cognisant that we aren’t the only people in the universe with priorities competing with our work. Whether you’re a parent of one, four or ten children (heaven forbid!) or even if you don’t have children, everyone struggles at times to manage their personal and professional lives in the best, and most healthy, way possible.

What we can do, as people who understand these struggles, is to be understanding of every individual, make accommodations where possible and offer flexible working environments. That way, we’ll get the most out of our happy, stress-free team!

Procurious has launched Bravo!, a group that seeks to celebrate and promote women working within procurement. Get involved here.

The Big Ideas Summit 2017: Welcome to the Party

They say there ain’t no party like a Procurious party. Thank goodness you’re all invited to The Big Ideas Summit!

Want to follow all of the action today? Register as an online delegate for the London Big Ideas Summit 2017 here.

It’s not every day you invite more than 50,000 people to join you online for a procurement event. It’s going to be a whopper of a party and we’re so glad that you’re able to join us.

The Big Ideas Summit

Today, Procurious is gathering fifty of the world’s most influential Procurement & Supply Chain leaders in London. For the third year running we present The Big Ideas Summit – the world’s first digitally led procurement think-tank.

Procurious’ Big Ideas Summit now has a global reputation as the most innovative leadership event for the procurement profession.

Today we need your involvement. Together we are going to spark vigorous discussions, light up social media across the globe and crowd-source ideas for the future of procurement.

What’s the aim of the game?

Our aim is to inspire a new generation of business intrapreneurs, people who can think outside the box. These forward thinkers will  drive innovation and lead change into the future.

Now with 20,000 members from 140+ countries, Procurious is well on the way to becoming a United Nations, in kind, of procurement professionals.

We’ve made it possible for you to attend one of the best procurement conferences in the world. It doesn’t matter if you’re siting at your desk, lounging on the sofa or on the go. There’s a lot of ways to get involved throughout the day and have your say.

Get involved, get ahead

If there’s anything you’re burning to ask one of our procurement thought leaders, why not put them to the test? Ask them the toughest questions you can possibly muster.

Or, if you’re looking for a way to build your personal brand and market yourself as a global procurement superstar, send us your Big Idea. It might not be Hollywood, but putting your video up in lights on Procurious offers an unprecedented chance to grow your profile as a thought-leader and a true influencer in procurement.

You can submit your questions, comments or your Big Idea videos via the Procurious twitter account, @Procurious_ using the hashtag #bigdeas2017 or on the Procurious Big Ideas Summit group.

Procurement 4.0

What are the Big Ideas that will disrupt and transform the procurement profession in 2017?

This year’s conference is primarily focused on uncovering the mysteries of Procurement 4.0. We don’t want you to feel intimidated if you haven’t yet got robots running your production floor and Watson doing your negotiations!

In fact, one of our key goals for Big Ideas is to determine exactly where the profession should be in the journey to Procurement 4.0. We want to help the profession get calibrated.

Procurement 4.0 is something we are consistently discussing on Procurious but confusion remains about the term’s definition. Procurement 4.0 simply describes what the profession will look like in Industry 4.0. From the creation of digital networks, to the increasing use of technology and digitalisation in all facets of business – it represents a transformation in how businesses will run.

The Big Ideas of Big Ideas 2017

What are the top themes and discussion points for this year’s event?

  • Courage is the number one attribute required for procurement pros wanting to succeed in the future world of Industry 4.0. We’ll be giving you a wake up call to be brave and embrace the future.
  • We’ll also be narrowing our focus as we learn about the unexpected shifts in the geopolitical landscape. How will this will affect your supply chains and global trade? Last year we talked a lot about Thinking the Unthinkable. We considered how procurement must stay agile to respond to unexpected macro and micro economic changes. Well! Our advice couldn’t have been better timed given the series of political events in 2016.
  • It wouldn’t be a procurement event without discussing cognitive technology. How things have changed in the past year! Last week more than 600 people registered for our webinar, Man and Machine, with IBM. This is testament to the global interest in this critical topic. We want to help procurement understand how artificial intelligence, such as IBM’s Cognitive Technology solution Watson, is going to help make more informed decisions, with deeper insight and greater certainty.
  • In the face of all this uncertainty, companies’ ability to anticipate and swiftly respond to change is more important than ever. To tackle Industry 4.0 head-on, we will need to build agile, creative and diverse teams.
  • Another new term you will hear today is “neuro diversity”. Britain’s intelligence agency today employs more than 100 dyslexic and dyspraxic spies. They say many of their most talented code-breakers have trouble reading or interpreting words, but this can help them crack codes because they see things others do not.

Taking procurement out to the abyss

We’ll also be talking about unleashing our inner creativity in the workplace, sustainability, reinventing the public sector procurement wheel and how procurement teams can shape their workforce in preparation for workplace 4.0.

And, once we have taken you out to the abyss, to the brink of what is possible in the coming 50 years, we will bring our conversation back to the here and now. We’ll discuss why procurement teams should be focused on ‘doing the do’ and getting the basics right whilst still keeping their eyes on the horizon.

Don’t forget to register as a digital delegate so you can keep up with all of today’s events.

Grab A Cheeky Donut! 5 Procurement Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

It’s that time of year again. January has come and gone and you’ve realised that, despite the best of intentions, you’re not actually going to deliver on your personal New Year’s resolutions.

Rather than despairing about all those unrealistic “get fit” goals, how about refocusing your energies on some professional resolutions that will truly benefit your procurement career? The beauty of these targets is that they can actually be met, and won’t be broken in a cheeky late-night fridge raid.

The year has barely begun but we’ve already heard some profound advice from procurement leaders around the world, but here’s the skinny – the real McCoy – the five goals you REALLY need to focus on to reach the top.

So, grab a donut (breaking a healthy-eating resolution while doing so), adjust your focus and rebuild your resolutions to become a world-beater in 2017.

  1. Get tech-savvy

Late last year, I predicted that IT procurement professionals will become the next generation of CPOs (Chief Procurement Officers).

So, if you want to stay in the race, you’ll need to get tech-savvy very quickly. This means making the time to upskill yourself so you will have the confidence to make decisions such as:

Decision Skill-set
Whether to store your company’s precious customer data in the cloud or in data centers. Learn about big data analytics and understand the benefits of the cloud versus data centers.
How to protect your company’s IP and customers’ privacy from hackers. Keep up-to-date with the rapidly changing (and fascinating) world of cyber-security.
How to comply with privacy legislation. Build a relationship with your organisation’s lawyers to learn about data protection laws.
Which technology vendors you should (or shouldn’t) tie your company’s future to. Familiarise yourself with the technology landscape and the big players.

2. Become a Play Maker

Last year on Procurious we talked a lot about procurement’s game changers.

When visualising what type of procurement professional you want to be, you could do worse than become what The GC Index calls “The Play Maker”. It reads a little like a horoscope, but to quote – “Perfectly placed right in the intersection of all GC Index’s four profiles, this individual is interested in people and relationships. They’re best equipped to take on the all-important task of stakeholder engagement, but also managing upwards (C-level) and outwards (supply markets). Play Makers at their best will lead through building productive relationships and helping others to do the same”.

To me, the Play Maker sounds like the perfect procurement professional. A relationship expert who is equally at ease managing the C-suite and suppliers will go a long way very fast.

BME’s landmark Procurement 4.0 study also highlighted how procurement will need to network both vertically and horizontally, inside and outside the organization, to thrive in Industry 4.0.

  1. Put on a show

CPOs today are paid to drive global change and (in case you didn’t know), storytelling lies at the heart of every successful change programme.

I recommend that CPOs and other change-drivers adopt the “the Disney formula”, which involves a core idea (the story) being cleverly communicated through a number of different channels. This technique can be easily adapted into a formula that’s relevant for procurement pros: “the book, the movie, the merchandise, the ride – and the tweet”!

If you can’t see how Disney’s storytelling formula could be adapted to your change-management programme, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Save yourself some time and energy by finding your own inspirational company who demonstrate best-practice, steal their formula, and get to work!

  1. Network your face off

The “n-word” makes most people cringe and break into a cold sweat – but overcoming your fears and mastering the art of networking is well-worth the effort.

Inspired by Kathryn Minshew’s piece for the Harvard Business Blog titled “Network Your Face Off”, Kate Lee of Fronetics wrote a clever blog article for Procurious where she gave seven reasons why you should focus on developing your network in 2017.

Here are the facts – professionals with larger networks earn larger salaries, they’re offered more professional opportunities, they stay in their jobs longer, they are more “in the know”, and (last but not least), they’re happier!

  1. Cyber-study

If one of your resolutions is to build a habit of continuous learning, you’ll need to throw out your old perceptions of professional development and adapt to the brave new (online) world. You can now access the latest thinking and procurement insights on your laptop, smartphone or other device, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. This means there is absolutely no excuse for you not to be plugging those career competency gaps!

Procurious’ learning section is organised into bite-sized microlearning videos ranging from 2–12 minutes, giving you the ability to learn from the best in the business in the time it takes to fetch a coffee.

Never forget that simply asking questions is often the best way to get the answers you need. With 19,000 members (and counting) on Procurious, the possibilities to engage in insightful and relevant discussions are limitless.

Finished your cheeky donut? While you’re picking at the crumbs, let’s make a commitment – to our professional selves, to our procurement teams and to our companies – to supercharge our procurement efforts this year with relevant and achievable career goals. Here’s to an exciting and transformative 2017 for everyone!

Throwback Thursday – #suckit – The Art of Speechmaking

There’s an art to great speechmaking, and we can all take note how to improve. But could it also be the key to finding great talent?

I’ve just woken up in Los Angeles and am still in awe of Cate Blanchett’s amazing acceptance speech at last night’s Oscars.

No – I wasn’t in the audience (maybe next year!), but watching with a group of friends in our Art Deco hangout in Santa Monica. It felt a bit like watching the AFL Grand Final from an apartment in East Melbourne. The action was only metres away, but there you were, watching it on television like the rest of the world.

Cate’s speech was the demonstration of a well educated, articulate, thoughtful, and endearing individual. She came across as a true professional who was both confident and competent – a rare combination.

As far as I’m concerned, her speech ticked all the boxes. She used this once in a lifetime opportunity to talk to the world about the wealth of Australian talent, the important role of women in business, and her number one passion, the Sydney Theatre Company.

 

And, I’m sorry, I have always tried to avoid writing negative comments about specific individuals, but Cate provided a VERY stark contrast to the best male actor who…quite frankly…in his acceptance speech reinforced a lot of stereotypes about the acting world and Hollywood. Enough said!

Don’t Get Sticky Fingers

Now, I know there will probably be social media furore over her comment, “Julia, #suckit.” The background to which Blanchett is staying close-lipped.

It would seem Cate’s has proved correct an earlier, very clever quote from Julia Roberts regarding social media: “It’s like cotton candy. It looks so appealing, but then you just end up with sticky fingers”.

Wow!  What a great analogy – sticky fingers.  Really made me rethink my little personal journey on twitter, which you can read about in “Who gives a tweet?”.

Anyway, back to great speechmaking. While scrolling through my Twitter timeline to learn more about Cate’s big win, I stumbled across AFL Boss Andrew Demetriou’s 11 minute resignation speech.

OK, so it’s not everyday someone draws a link between Andrew Demetriou and Cate Blanchett! But in a matter of 24 hours, both these Australians made great leadership speeches that will help define their respective legacies.

Both speeches had the following in common –

  • Paid respect to their respective “codes”
  • Showed humility and empathy
  • Recognised where they had come from and those who had supported their journey
  • Sent a clear message about their passions/key communication points
  • Thanked their family

Because of their statesman-like, intelligent and heartfelt comments, they left their audience thinking even more highly of their respective professions.

Your Speechmaking Checklist

It’s not everyday that we mere mortals are called on to make landmark speeches, but the checklist above certainly gives us some good reminders as we walk through our professional lives.

So when that day arrives, and you’re in front of the camera, audience, or friends, will you be able to deliver a compelling summary of your contribution?

Here’s some thought starters:

  • As we interact with our team, do we show gratitude?
  • Are we investing our energy in those people who will be part of the winning team?
  • Will we have contributed in a material way to the development of our “code” or profession?
  • Have we supported our family as much as they have supported us?
  • Do we have a view, an opinion, or a passion that we are actively promoting to others as we interact daily?
  • Are we living and working by our values?
  • Are we showing empathy and humility?
  • And what about our team and others we have dealt with along the way?  Will they be our greatest advocates?

Speechmaking – The Key to Finding Talent?

But the importance of oration goes even further than our own ability to present professionally it would seem. It could just be the key to finding great young talent.

I’m always looking for great talent to help build my three businesses – The Faculty, The Source and Procurious. So, when I came across advice in Forbes on “how to find the Millennials who will lead your company,” I really took notice.

The author, Robert Sher, advised us to be on the lookout for Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) who have had experience in speechmaking and debating.

He highlights that the world needs business executives that have a deep understanding of how to persuade, how to present clearly, and how to connect with an audience.

Sher notes that many professionals, “fall short when it comes to speaking and communications skills. Many are good at making Power Point slides, and some are good at presenting facts clearly—even recommendations clearly.

“But few practice, or are aware of the techniques behind moving the emotions of audiences; whether they be in a meeting, or in an all-hands gathering of hundreds of people. We all know that people spring to action based on emotions, then simply justify it with logic.”

Here is the truth about students who compete in speech and debate. They’ve spent hundreds of hours perfecting their speaking skills.  Many have done intensive research to write their speeches.

All have endured the pressure that competition brings. They have performed well intellectually under such pressure, and they’ve made connections and friendships with other high performing peers. All of these behaviours are excellent predictors of success on any leadership team.

Buying Tech – Your Fast-Track Ticket to the Top!

I’d like to make a correction. Tech buyers aren’t just our next CPOs, they’re our next Board members.

No, I haven’t misspelt “BioTech” in the headline here – I genuinely mean buying technology.

I wrote last week on Procurious that IT procurement professionals are best-positioned to become the next generation of CPOs (Chief Procurement Officers) or CIOs (Chief Information Officers).

But then, I decided to upgrade this career trajectory to Board level.

Why? Because I’d heard first-hand how some of the world’s largest industrial companies are turning their businesses on their heads. They are changing their focus so it’s less on manufactured goods, but services they can provide to complement those goods.

Banking on Future Tech

At last week’s ProcureCon IT conference in Amsterdam, banks, car companies, engine makers and other industries all made their way to the stage to tell a similar story. You see, they’ve all finally come around to Michael Porter’s way of thinking. It’s all about delighting and owning the customer – or, more specifically, the customer data.

Even the most traditional sectors represented at the conference made it clear that they are banking their futures on technology. Of course they’ll still offer their core products, such as making cars or managing money.

However, their key competitive advantage will be in the customer experience they create through understanding their customers’ needs and habits. The data they capture when customers use their products and services is essential for this understanding.

So – to be successful into the future, these bricks-and-mortar businesses are going to have start adding some very different (and expensive) topics to their Board meeting agendas.

Decisions might include:

  • whether to store all their precious customer data in the cloud or in data centres,
  • how to protect their IP and their customers’ privacy from hackers,
  • how to comply with privacy legislation, and
  • which technology vendors to tie their futures to (or not!).

These issues have existed in business for a long time, but they now come with such significant expenditure and risk profiles that they will warrant serious Board contemplation and approval.

But who on the Board will have the experience and knowledge to provide useful and constructive insights for making these critical business decisions?

Become a Savvy Tech Buyer

Enter stage left – the technology procurement leader.

I’ve been reading and writing about seismic shifts in the world of Industry 4.0, but today the penny finally dropped. I now realise what a huge opportunity the next Industrial Revolution is for procurement.

It is indeed a brave new world. To my delight it has become very clear to me that the fastest career ticket you can buy yourself to the c-suite, is to become a commercially savvy technology buyer.

Whether you are in IT procurement or not, you should be focussing on developing these four key skills to secure your ticket to the top:

Big Data Analytics

There is going to be a lot of customer data collected over the coming years. The companies that can extract the best insights from that data, and adapt their products and services to meet customer needs, will secure their competitive advantage.

Executives with a proven track record in complex analytics will be a valuable addition to the c-suite.

Data Security

Cyber security is already one of the most concerning issues for CEOs. This will only be amplified in the future as more and more proprietary information is created.

The executive team will need leaders who know about global privacy laws, the pros and cons of the cloud versus traditional data centres, and how to outsmart the latest human or robotic hacking capability.

The Digital Landscape

Companies are already in dire need of directors and executives who understand the difference between the Ethernet and the Internet. (Hint: it’s like comparing a glass of water with the ocean).

A whole new universe of technology options are forming as the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 explode. Boards desperately need digitally native, tech-savvy executives who can quickly analyse opportunities, understand the competitive landscape and engage first-mover start-ups in a commercially astute manner.

Busting the Big Guys

This isn’t a typical competency that you would normally see listed on a corporate job description. But from what I’ve heard over the past two days, every company is going to need a group of strong, strategic commercial leaders who can ensure the organisation doesn’t become captive to one of the big technology suppliers.

Without naming names, there are a handful of global players who dominate the infrastructure, hardware and software space.

Whilst IT procurement professionals genuinely want to engage the niche players, requirements around scale, scope and compliance inevitably lead to the large technology providers. These are somewhat symbiotic relationships, but (as we all know) there are huge inherent risks to any monopoly supply situation.

Gain Experience and Grow

So, if you’re ambitious, my career advice to you today is this:

Do all you can to get yourself into a role where you’ll learn these sought-after skills. A role in tech procurement would be perfect; procurement second-best (because every procurement professional learns essential commercial and negotiation skills).

If you’re not in procurement at all, the IT profession is another place where you’ll be able to gain the experience required to tick some of these boxes when it comes time to be interviewed for the c-suite – or hopefully, the Board!

See you at the top!

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Here’s Why IT Procurement Leaders Are CPOs of the Future

The fourth industrial revolution is here. Change-resistant CPOs who see it as a threat will inevitably see themselves consigned to the scrap-heap.

The CPO of the Future, on the other hand, will seize every opportunity Industry 4.0 presents. And the profession is looking to IT procurement experts for leadership.

The procurement function is at a digital tipping point. To quote James Gregson’s analysis of Deloitte’s 2016 Global CPO Survey, “digital disruption will either reinvigorate or replace procurement’s value proposition”. In other words, if you’re not disrupting, you’re being disrupted.

Industry 4.0 marks the convergence of physical and digital manufacturing capabilities, where increasing automation and computerisation allow us to create smart workplaces.

From office printers that automatically order their own ink cartridges, to fully-robotised factories, the scale of change has been compared to the industrial revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Procurement, far from allowing itself to be left behind, must ride the wave of technological advancement to stay ahead. We’ve even seen the emergence of a new term – Procurement 4.0 – to encapsulate the changes that Industry 4.0 is making in the supply chain.

The vocabulary of CPOs is changing, too. The usual chatter around traditional practices such as sourcing, contracts and requisition-to-pay is fading away to make room for cutting-edge concepts like cognitive analytics, crowd sourcing, digital reporting, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

If you’re already in IT Procurement, then let me be the first to congratulate you! IT Buyers are going to be the CPOs of the future. Here are five reasons why.

  1. You already control an important chunk of the strategic spend

Global IT spending, according to Gartner, is expected to reach $3.5 trillion in 2017. As the future of business lies in the Cloud and with digital technology, it’s easy to predict that those professionals who are buying this future are best-positioned to lead the profession.

Arguably, no category of spend touches all areas of the business as much as IT. It’s a highly-specialised, big-ticket category where the buyer regularly deals with tier-one vendors.

Salary ranges, according to The Source General Manager Tony Megally, reflect the high-level impact of IT buying roles. “Generally, IT procurement managers’ salaries are 15 per cent higher than other specialisations. They are, without doubt, one of the best-paid categories in the profession.”

  1. Soon everything we buy will include an element of technology

Direct or indirect, goods or services, in the new world of Industry 4.0 just about everything we buy will have some element of technology. IT Buyers have the opportunity to add some runs to their career scorecard by seeking out innovative technology that solves previously “unsolvable” problems.

Take for example the decades-old safety concern around the fatigue levels of operators of heavy machinery. Mining truck drivers now have wearable technology (essentially baseball caps) that regularly conduct electroencephalogram (EEG) tests on the wearer.

The SmartCap knows when you’re approaching a micro-sleep even before you do. It then sounds an alarm in the truck cabin that alerts the wearer. The alarm can be routed to a remote monitor, who will stop the truck and remove fatigued driver from duty.

For the IT procurement manager, it’s important to understand the technology to manage it commercially. Which companies currently produce these caps? The earliest adopters are in the mining sector – what other sectors could benefit from this product?

What will it mean for safety standards across every industry where operator fatigue is a concern? Could your organisation be accused of negligence if you’re slow to implement this technology?

  1. You know how to drive change

Introducing new technology to an organisation is a major change process. More than anyone, IT procurement buyers are very aware of this fact, many having fought and overcome end-user resistance to new processes or systems.

Here at the threshold of Industry 4.0, the experience gained by battle-scarred IT change-management veterans will be invaluable as the pace of transformational change continues to accelerate.

  1. You’re an innovation scout

IT Procurement professionals have witnessed a huge amount of change in their search for the ultimate technology solutions over the past 20 years.

Take, for example, the evolution of the laptop. These have developed from bulky, suitcase-like machines in the 1980s, to sleek thin-screened notebooks in the early 2000s. However, the devices were effectively (and dramatically) made obsolete in 2010 when Apple released its first-generation iPad.

As technology increasingly becomes the product, we must keep options open to take advantage of the frenetic pace of change. This means shorter contracts, built-in optionality, and smaller, more agile suppliers who will drive innovation.

CPOs of the future will essentially be “innovation scouts”, with a major focus on finding, and profiting from, the next big thing in IT.

Organisations are also increasingly looking to supplier innovation to boost top-line revenue. This means the skill-set required to source from technology providers is fast becoming invaluable.

  1. You understand cyber security

88 per cent of U.S. CEOs are somewhat or extremely concerned about cyber threats. These CEOs are looking for technology savvy leaders across their business to protect them from cyber breaches.

Again, IT Procurement managers are ideally positioned to become experts in the cybersecurity challenges associated with the coming IoT wave, which will bring a rapid expansion of potential entry points for malicious software.

Whether you’re a problem-solver, change-management veteran, innovation scout, cyber-security expert, or all of the above, IT Buyers are already in possession of the ideal skill-set that will be needed by Procurement 4.0’s CPOs of the Future.

Procurious is at ProcureCon IT in Amsterdam this week. Stay up to date with what’s happening on Procurious, and by following us on Twitter.

My 5 Killer Job Interview Questions

How do you separate the diamonds from the rough in your next recruitment process? Do you have the killer questions to help?

killer questions

When I started all my businesses (The Faculty, The Source, and Procurious) I declared that I was building a culture, not a company.

Culture can’t be forced, but it also doesn’t happen organically. It stems from recruitment. It’s not always the best person, but the right person for the job, that can help foster company culture.

Leadership experience, technical skills and cultural fit are all important here, so how can you recruit someone that ticks all three boxes?

From all my years of playing interviewer, I’ve compiled five killer questions that separate the diamonds from the rough.

1. The “Tipping Point” Question

“What were the reasons for leaving your current job?”

Asking a potential employee why they decided to leave their job provides good insight into what makes them tick. It also highlights their personality and gives you a definite indication of what they don’t want to happen in their new job.

It’s also a good question to ask in exit interviews to ensure your business can learn from its mistakes.

2. The “Leader of the Pack” Question

“Tell me about something you’ve lead – a group, a team, a movement, an initiative…any situation where you were in the lead?”

This question resulted in the most surprising interview response ever. When I first established The Source, my procurement recruitment company, I was interviewing for the Managing Director role.

When I asked this question, one of the candidates paused and then answered, “I once led a revolt against management in a manufacturing company I worked for.” Wrong answer.

3. The “Mentor Me” Question

“Tell me about some people you’ve mentored and what they are doing now?”

If people stumble on this question, they obviously don’t have a track record in developing people. Furthermore, if they can’t talk to what their mentees are doing now, they really weren’t genuinely committed and interested in that person’s development enough to keep track of their progress.

4. The “Question” Question

“Do you have any more questions?”

I always want people to have lots of questions. And not just about them – their pay, their hours, the role and where they’ll sit – but about the business, about the industry, the issues we are facing, about our future.

To be successful in any business, people need to be genuinely concerned about their profession or industry, not just their own career development.

5. The “One Word” Question

One of my mentors gave me this tip. One of her interview questions was:

“If your friends could summarise you in one word, what would that word be?”

This question is great because it allows the candidate to drill down to the one attribute they represent but also aspire to be.

Want to hire someone who describes him or herself as “encouraging” or “meticulous”? Of course you do. Someone who describes him or herself as “Chatty” or “Brilliant”? Didn’t think so.

Reflect on Your Questions

So you’ve asked your questions, the interview is complete and you look to move onto the next candidate. Before you do so, remember the final important step – reflect.

This was a key piece of advice I received from one of our recruitment experts at The Source. It’s important to reflect on the candidate’s responses and behaviour to help determine where they fit in the organisation.

Hiring managers should always consider their current and desired workplace culture, and think about how the candidate fits in.

To do this, I often ask myself:

  • What were the energy levels like? Did the candidate have energy – physical, mental and spiritual (I know, sounds spooky…but think about it!)?
  • Did the conversation flow? Was the candidate both interesting and interested? Did I struggle to follow what they were sharing? Was the conversation stilted?
  • Would the person be a good representative of the team? Here, I’m talking about their values and approach, as well as the way they communicate and present.

With these interview questions in your repertoire plus some “reflection” time, you will be on your way to recruitment success.

Take the Disney Approach to Procurement

Take some advice from Disney – storytelling lies at the heart of every successful change programme.

disney approach procurement

Here’s a little-known fact – I used to work for the Walt Disney Company. Over twenty-five years ago I was a Marketing Co-ordinator in Disney’s International TV Department based in Soho Square, London.

The rest of the team (not me, unfortunately) used to travel to Cannes for the TV Festival each year to support our roll-out of Disney Clubs. It was all very glamorous (for some) and very educational for me.

In one way (at least), I was a perfect fit for a job with Disney. If you’ve ever caught one of my podcasts here on Procurious or elsewhere, you may have heard my voice.

Let’s just say it’s “unfortunate” – quite high in pitch, scratchy…not pleasant! Some of my friends at the time claimed that my role with Disney was actually as the voice-over for Minnie Mouse. Cruel, but understandable!

I learned so much during my time there, but today I want to focus on what I picked up by experiencing the Disney marketing machine first-hand. I am sure many of you have heard about “the Disney formula”, which involves a core asset (the story) being rolled out and leveraged in its many formats.

My short-hand way of summarising this phenomenally successful technique is to categorise the formula into “the book, the movie, the merchandise, the ride – and the tweet”.

Drive Procurement Change Programmes like a Disney Executive

CPOs today are paid to drive global change – but are the programmes we put in place really that effective? Deft change management is what separates the good from the great.

I want to encourage you all to take a very professional, systematic approach to driving change with this Disney-inspired formula.

The Book

At the heart of every Disney project lies the book, or the original script. For CPOs, our “book” is the business case for the change program. This proposal, or argument for action, is the foundation of your change programme that must win the endorsement of your senior leadership team. Without the business case, your campaign has no foundation and will always be on shaky ground.

My advice is to treat your “book” the same way that the world’s best authors approach their craft – write, re-write, and re-write again until you’re 100 per cent confident that you’ve created a rock-solid, engaging business case that meets your organisation’s requirements.

The Movie

Think about some of the lengthy classics that Disney has converted into film. Whether it’s The Jungle Book, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame or Treasure Island, the editors have managed to bring the story down to an average of 1.5 hours. Your “movie” is the public, dramatic expression of your story.

Not everyone will have the time, nor the interest, to read the business case for your change programme, so it’s important to condense it into a version that’s palatable for all. In the corporate world, this is often referred to as “the deck” – or even just a snappy executive summary. 

The Merchandise

Disney has always done an amazing job of licensing their characters to consumer goods companies. Procurement, on the other hand, is notoriously poor at marketing themselves internally.

I’m not suggesting that you order in a range of paperweights or mousepads to promote your change management programme, but it’s worth considering an effective logo or even a slogan that will encapsulate and amplify your message.

Why not reach out to your colleagues in marketing for their creative input? 

The Ride

When I worked at Disney all those years ago, the most profitable part of the business was their theme parks. As part of their marketing formula, amusement rides were based on Disney’s most popular movies and TV shows. But how can this be applied to your change management programme? 

Well, I once heard that if you want to get a message across to employees, you need to communicate it eleven times before it’s absorbed. Why eleven, I have no idea! This is where the ride comes in.

Once you’ve converted your “book” into a “movie”, hop on “the ride” which will repeat the same message over and over again until your program has been accepted.

It doesn’t necessarily need to follow the same track – best-practice communication involves delivering your message via multiple platforms (newsletters, emails, the company intranet, posters and social media) to keep the message fresh and engaging.

A Modern-Day Addition: The Tweet

When I was at Walt Disney, there was no social media. I’ve just checked the #Disney hashtag on Twitter and it’s incredible to see how many accounts they’re running concurrently: @Disney, @DisneyPixar, @WaltDisneyWorld, @Disney Channel, @DisneyMusic. This doesn’t even cover the individual hashtags dedicated to each new movie, along with a legion of unofficial, fan-based accounts.

Disney understands that social media is essential for getting their message to where their audience spends its time. CPOs need to take the same approach. Social media, used intelligently, is an irreplaceable tool in their global change management kit.

Yammer, Procurious and LinkedIn are just some of the many platforms that can be used to engage and influence your team to help them understand the why – and the how – of your change program.

I’ve looked to Disney for my inspiration due to having first-hand experience with their marketing techniques all those years ago in Soho. However, they certainly aren’t the only organisation with a magic formula.

If you’re considering a change management programme, save yourself some time and energy by finding your own inspirational company who demonstrate best-practice, steal their formula, and get to work!

ProcureCon Europe, now in its 17th year, is Europe’s most strategic procurement conference for CPOs and senior procurement executives. See the full range of topic and speakers at the event here.