Category Archives: Big Ideas Summit

The Unpalatable Update On Thinking The Unthinkable

It’s all too easy to avoid thinking the unthinkable when the unthinkables concerned are so unpalatable. 

Evgeny Atamanenko/Shutterstock.com

Nik Gowing, BBC Broadcaster and Visiting Professor at King’s College spoke with Philip Ideson as part of Procurious’ Even Bigger Ideas, a 5-part podcast series sponsored by State of Flux. You can access the series exclusively on Procurious.

Nik Gowing introduced Procurious to the concept of thinking the unthinkable at last year’s Big Ideas Summit. Unthinkables are critical events that are not being considered or prepared for by organisations or by our governments around the world.

From Brexit to the election of President Trump;  from Putin’s invasion of Crimea to the upcoming European elections, unthinkables have been occurring frequently over the last few years.

Unthinkables such as these disrupt everything that we presume to be stable and constant, they create an unthinkable environment and, unfortunately, they’re not letting up in 2017.

Nik Gowing returned to Procurious this year to speak in our podcast series, Even Bigger Ideas, and to give us an update on the current state of affairs. Why is the world struggling  to prepare for unthinkables and what can be done to change that?

The New Normal

In recent years we’ve endured one unthinkable after another and, more often than not, several at once. Nik firmly believes that this is to be the new normal. Leaders, whether they admit it or not, are worried about what’s coming next and what the future holds for their organisations.

“If  organisations don’t handle or recognise [unthinkables] then it could lead to them going out of business very quickly. Consumers and customers feel alienated by what a lot of companies are doing; what a lot of governments are doing.

A lot of the next generation, the millennials, don’t like what they see in companies or governments and of course this means that they don’t want to go into those companies. Therefore, there’s a succession problem as well.

We haven’t seen anything yet with AI and the internet of things coming down the track. What many thought would be unthinkable in twenty years, will probably be unthinkable in twenty months.”

Why are we failing at thinking the unthinkable?

Executive leaders are often  overwhelmed, under pressure and unable to think about unthinkables.

The latest Thinking The Unthinkable Report reveals nine conclusions as to why leaders have, so far, struggled to respond to unthinkables. Nine key words and conclusions were mentioned repeatedly by survey participants.

“One of [these conclusions] is denial, and another one is willful dissidence. There’s a hope that, ‘Well, this is only a blip. It isn’t going be like this indefinitely.’

Those who have made it to the top whether it be C-suite, CPOs or as chief risk officers are constrained in their way of thinking. As Nik points out “the conformity, which gets you the promotion and gets you to the top, in many ways, disqualifies you from understanding the enormity of the changes that are taking place.”

“In reality,  leaders must use every kind of idea that’s out there; coming from inside the company, outside the company, in order to actually understand, appreciate, mitigate and confront head on the enormity of changes coming”

It’s Time to Start Thinking the Unpalatable

Nik asserts that unthinkable events are often apparent but we choose to ignore the available evidence because it is so unsavoury.

“Thinking the Unthinkable is the title, but actually it should be thinking the unpalatable. In almost every aspect, there is  clear evidence out there [of what’s to come].”

“Before the migration crisis in Europe there was two years of warnings from the UN and the International Organisation of Migration. But companies, and certainly governments, did not want to listen to it or take notice.

“The unpalatable is this stuff that’s out there.  Organisations say to themselves ‘Surely, that’s not going to affect us. Surely, it’s not going to be that bad. Surely, we can ignore it.’ And, actually, they should be saying, ‘We’ve got to embrace this.’ ”

What can be done?

“Chief risk officers and procurement officers have got to think far more broadly. There’s probably an unpalatable, small incident or issue out there that is going to turn into something much bigger. We are too often seeing the attitude of ‘We’ll rule that out. We don’t want to know about that.’ Instead, unpalatables should be right at the top of the risk registry. ”

“Events that were once viewed as outlandish unthinkables would not even been considered as likely in the risk registry. It’s a bit like dealing with alcoholics. No one wans to admit they’ve got an alcohol problem until they get in the same room with a lot of people suffering from the very same problem. At this point they’ll say ‘My goodness, that’s me. We’ve got to do something about it.’ ”

“So what we’re in the process of doing at the moment is creating a community of leaders in government and corporates around the world who’re saying we’ve now got to change the way we do business. It’s about changing culture, mindset, and behavior. It’s not about spending money. It’s changing what’s in the human software up there.”

Procurious Even Bigger Ideas is a 5-part podcast series available exclusively to Big Ideas Digital Delegates. Sponsored by State of Flux, this series features interviews with five of the most intriguing power players at this year’s Big Ideas Summit in London.

“I’m Just Not Very Creative!” Three Ways To Unleash Creative Potential

According to Creative Change Agent James Bannerman, there’s no such thing as a lost cause when it comes to unharnessing creativity.

Bannerman spoke with Philip Ideson as part of Procurious Even Bigger Ideas, a 5-part podcast series sponsored by State of Flux. You can access the series exclusively on Procurious.

The stifling of creativity is a slow but inexorable process. Evidence suggests that humans are incredibly creative as children.  By the time we reach adulthood, however, we have often lost the ability to connect with our innate creativity due to a combination of upbringing, education, fear of criticism, the need for conformity and the boundaries of the corporate environment.

The good news is that innovation is now firmly on the agenda for businesses worldwide. Managers are pushing their teams to be more creative which,  for some individuals,  can be quite daunting, especially when you believe you’re simply “not a creative type”.

According to Bannerman, though, everyone has innate creativity. It’s simply a matter of re-educating ourselves and learning some tips and tricks to unlock your creative potential. “Our minds become so full of ‘you can’t do this’ and ‘you can’t do that’, and ‘that won’t work’, and ‘that’s been done before’, that a lot of our innate creativity gets squashed and stifled.”

Here are three tips on unleashing creativity from Bannermann’s interview with Philip Ideson. 

  1. Stop labelling yourself

There’s no such thing as a lost cause. Bannerman has worked across multiple sectors, unleashing creativity in teams including Aston Martin, Rolls Royce, and some space agencies. But you don’t have to work in a “creative” profession to be creative. “It doesn’t matter if people are nuclear physicists,  or accountants, or if they work in the world of marketing. The point is that creativity can manifest itself in many different ways.”

“I haven’t yet seen a completely lost cause. In fact, some of the best ideas I’ve ever come across have been from the people working in professions where you’d least expect to see creativity. The TV companies and the advertising agencies aren’t always the most innovative and creative because often they’re just regurgitating what they’ve done before. It’s in other groups, like accountants, where people generate ideas that make you think: ‘Wow’.”

  1. Stop trying too hard

“Trying to be creative is like trying to go to sleep. If you’re too busy focusing on going to sleep, you’ll stay awake because there’s all sorts of brainwave activity linked to beta waves that will keep you from falling asleep.”

Bannerman explains that there’s a sweet-spot that allows creativity to flourish. “We tend to be most creative when we’re focused but not over-focused, and relaxed but not too relaxed. You’re more likely to think creatively when you step away from your desk, and do something like go for a run, or go for a drive, or simply look out the window. If you say to yourself ‘I must come up with the best procurement idea ever right now’, chances are that you’ll become stressed and nothing will come to mind. It’s about finding that optimum state.”

  1. Make room to be creative

Bannerman has observed that creativity is often hamstrung by legislation, regulations and an atmosphere unconducive to lateral thinking. “There has to be wriggle room in a team’s dynamic. If people are too afraid of getting things wrong, or if they continually feel that everything has to be 100 per cent perfect straight away, then they’ll fall into a practical mindset. They’ll only do what they know will work, what has been done before, and will endlessly repeat old patterns rather than contemplating new patterns.”

“Any part of an organisation can be creative by looking at how it can improve itself, solve problems and imagine where it wants to be in two to five years’ time. Creativity can manifest itself in many different ways, depending on the context – it could just be about improving processes, systems or structures. It doesn’t have to be about inventing the next iPhone.”

Procurious Even Bigger Ideas is a 5-part podcast series available exclusively to Big Ideas Digital Delegates. Sponsored by State of Flux, this series features interviews with five of the most intriguing power players at this year’s Big Ideas Summit in London.

Big Ideas Summit 2017: Understand Your World

Every procurement pro needs somebody to tell them the world weather forecast so they can figure out when they’re going to need an umbrella! 

At the Big Ideas Summit 2017, we once again challenged our thought leaders to share their Big Ideas for the future of procurement.

Our attendees spoke about everything from creativity to politics, from cognitive technology to workplace agility, current affairs, economics and the future. Whatever your industry and wherever you are in the world, there are some top tips to takeaway!

Be Sure To Understand Your World Weather Forecast

Justin Crump, CEO at Sibylline thinks that procurement organisations need to become more worldly wise in order to better manage future risk.

At present, larger organisations might be competent at managing risk but often this is very much in silos. This makes it very hard to fully understand what they are facing as a result of global events.

Given the rate at which technology is evolving and how global events are impacting the world, it is increasingly difficult for companies to keep up without considering risk in real-time.

Intelligence about the world we live in drives business operations and the better informed we are the easier it is to drive progress.

Justin urges us to gain a clear view of the world to measure against so the we can focus  our resources on what world means to us.

Want to find out more about Big Ideas 2017? Join the group on Procurious.

You’ll find all of the Big Ideas Summit 2017 videos in the learning section on Procurious. If you enjoy this Big Idea  join Procurious for free today( if you haven’t done so already).  Get connected with over 20,000 like-minded procurement professionals from across the world. 

The Art of Self-Mastery In Indirect Procurement

Self-mastery is a critical skill in indirect procurement but you might have to endure a few steep learning curves before you nail it.

Join The Big Ideas Summit 2017 group to access all of last week’s discussions and exclusive video content.

Indirect procurement is a function with high requirements for stakeholder management.  Cultivating excellent stakeholder management skills means developing self-mastery – a key part of authentic leadership.

In the workplace, ‘Just being yourself’ doesn’t  mean  letting it all hang out, unfiltered. It requires a self-mastery founded in self-awareness. It means building on this to calibrate ones own reaction to and interaction with colleagues. I’ve had experiences from good and bad bosses along the way and I’ve made mistakes that have helped me learn to be a more authentic leader.

The blind spot of conviction

Early on in my career I was lucky to be part of a small, young team developing the, then new, idea of strategic sourcing in indirect procurement for a large bank.

We had an innovative boss, Harry, who inspired us with his passion for the new concept. And, with just 10 of us, and a supportive CPO, we were starting to make a big impact.

However, there was a new CFO who  didn’t understand what we were doing. He simply didn’t care about the hundreds of millions of savings the team was generating.  As you can probably guess, this was before the banking crisis!

Harry had a choice to make. He could have decided to keep a low profile and deliver value in other ways. After all, there were plenty of projects to work on that didn’t require massive change management and senior sponsorship.

Instead, he made an ultimatum to the new CFO, so convinced that he was right and that his arguments would be compelling.

It didn’t turn out the way he had planned. The team closed and disbanded one month later. Unfortunately, Harry’s lack of self-awareness made him naively unaware of the politics of the business and the consequences he might face.

Leading a team through change

The procurement management team I was working on at a large Swiss company was about to go through a major transition with the retirement of our charismatic CPO. He  had many great qualities but led by command and control.

His manager, Peter, knew we needed to evolve to be capable of running the business independently. The stakes were high for him due to a high level of outsourcing in direct procurement and high savings commitments in indirect procurement.

The first shake-up was a reduction of the team. Peter joined the meeting with the new smaller group. I didn’t know him well, and was nervous about what his expectations were.

He told us that we had to be ready to lead procurement differently as our new boss was not a procurement person. He admitted that our new team wasn’t yet ready for the challenges ahead but that we would be supported to grow and develop.

Over the next year, Peter joined our meetings regularly to give us input and encouragement. He didn’t discuss the pressure for us to become an independent team. He backed up the risks we were taking with new high change projects. He also gave his personal support with one to one time.

Much later, I asked him about that time and how much pressure there had really been. He told me he hadn’t been sure the team would make it and that the pressure from the CEO had been intense.

His self-mastery at that moment allowed us to have space to grow and successfully step up to the plate.

Not filtering and scaring my team

It was the end of summer and we were in the second year of our indirect transformation. The team had delivered the first year, but our credibility was far from cemented.

One of my team leads, Mary, revealed that her team’s numbers were not sure for the year. Worse still, we had recently submitted an updated forecast to senior management.

Mary and I reviewed her project details. She couldn’t answer all of the questions to the level I needed in order to be able to revise the numbers.

I was surprised at this; she was highly capable, but she hadn’t yet fully learned how to measure savings in financial terms or to appreciate the importance of forecast accuracy.

We were under a lot of pressure and I panicked.  Having scrutinised the details with Mary I understood the situation,  but the cost was high and I was unsuccessful in shielding my stress from the team.

Fortunately Mary followed up with me. She explained what the effect of my unfiltered actions had on her and the team. She felt undermined and made to feel foolish in front of her team and her team members themselves were frightened.

I had failed my team by allowing high pressure from upwards to go unfiltered downwards.

After apologising to Mary, we talked frankly about what had happened. She got more insight into what she needed to do and I agreed to never behave in that way again.

It was a deep learning experience in the importance of maintaining self-mastery, especially in high-stress moments.

Want to catch up on all of last week’s Big Ideas Summit activity? Join the group here

Transparency is the Key to Overcoming Hurdles to Industry 4.0

Procurement’s journey to Industry 4.0 will be far from smooth, with numerous hurdles to leap. But transparency could hold the key to making this jump.

Download your copy of ‘Procurement 4.0 – The Digitalisation of Procurement’ on the Fraunhofer IML website.

In our previous article, we touched upon the challenges procurement will face in its Industry 4.0 journey. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges will come from the people side, and assurances of roles in the digital era.

However, as with many challenges and roadblocks, communication is crucial to overcoming resistance. And, according to BME, for Industry 4.0 and procurement, transparency and knowledge sharing could be the key the profession is looking for.

“The key to success is to provide companies with the knowledge about opportunities and benefits by Industry 4.0 and to underline these with appropriate use case.” says Prof. Dr Michael Henke,  Head of Enterprise Logistics at TU Dortmund University.

Lack of Transparency Major Hurdle

Within the ‘Management and People’ area, four major hurdles to procurement’s Industry 4.0 journey were highlighted. They were:

  • A lack of transparency and knowledge;
  • No active attempts to explore Industry 4.0;
  • The shaping of cultural change and the involvement and qualification of staff are already a burden in the minds of those responsible;
  • A lack of willingness to take risks or to invest.

These hurdles were seen as the key reason procurement was holding back on Industry 4.0. There were also concerns that if they weren’t tackled effectively and quickly, it could hinder procurement’s strategic journey too.

However, this is not necessarily a hurdle that organisations can easily overcome. The lack of clear definition of both Industry 4.0 and Procurement 4.0 present a major problem. This has a knock-on effect in terms of building a knowledge base for organisations, and then passing this information to employees.

And in turn, it also stops organisations being fully aware of the benefits and advantages available within Industry 4.0. Improving transparency in this respect, and gathering greater levels of information can aid procurement overcoming this hurdle.

Investment in Data

One other hurdle facing procurement can be linked to both management and technology. Big Data is frequently cited as one of the key aspects of procurement’s future, particularly in line with new technology. However, organisations as a whole are yet to fully establish how to collect data effectively, and then put it to good use.

Current systems used in procurement are capable of handling certain levels of data, but nowhere near those levels needed in Industry 4.0. Procurement need to invest in new systems, but overall investment has slowed in this area.

There are three possible reasons outlined by the respondents to the survey. Firstly, many companies lack the funds to actively invest in new systems. Secondly, organisations are already unsure about the return on investment on new systems, as cost-effectiveness has yet to be proved.

Finally, there is a lack of clarity and transparency in the procurement technology supply market. The array of systems available can be confusing, and leave organisations in the dark about which supplier will best meet their needs and requirements.

Prof.  Dr Henke believes that “If procurement wants to lift its role to another level in the future, it can be characterized by agility and speed. But procurement can only do this if he is able to interpret data from different systems correctly,”

Leading Not Following

Procurement definitely needs to be a driving force, otherwise it will be forced back into its old performing role.

Overcoming these hurdles is, of course, vital to procurement playing its part in Industry 4.0. The profession cannot afford to be a follower, or risk remaining a transactional function, with little strategic influence, and probably a short shelf-life.

Within the survey, the majority of respondents stated that procurement needed to be an active influencer, and provide innovation to the organisation.

However, at the same time, it was felt that procurement wouldn’t take the lead on these strategies. Responsibility, it would seem, would lie with a management team, but with procurement acting as an enabler.

The journey to Industry 4.0 will require procurement to make changes, but also step forward and grab its opportunity. How Procurement 4.0 will come into being will be the topic of the final article in this series.

The Association Supply Chain Management, Procurement and Logistics (BME), founded in 1954, is the leading professional association for supply chain managers, buyers and logisticians in Germany and Central Europe.

Fraunhofer IML, founded in 1981, is a global expert on all fields of internal and external logistics. The Institute also currently heads up the largest logistics research centre in Europe.

To download your copy of the report, visit the Fraunhofer IML website.

The procurement function must adapt and evolve to accommodate technology changes and be ready to embrace what we’re calling Procurement 4.0. The question is: Are We There Yet?

Join the conversation on our Big Ideas Summit 2017 group to find out everything that went on at last week’s event. 

Authentic Leadership Is As Easy As ABC

Most procurement pros are in agreement that authentic leadership  is a great thing. But what actually constitutes an authentic leader? It’s as easy as ABC… 

Join The Big Ideas Summit 2017 group to access all of last week’s discussions and exclusive video content.

Have you ever wondered about that term Authentic Leadership?  We’ve seen it so often in blog posts and Facebook ads it’s become ubiquitous. Most people agree that being an authentic leader makes us more open to new possibilities; persistent and passionate about what we do.

But how can we become more authentic?

Visions of meditation, yoga and alternative therapies spring to mind.  And, while I enjoy all three, this isn’t the route to being authentic.

Achieving  authentic leadership is just a case of learning your ABCs…

A is for Adaptability

Things change at an alarming rate these days.  I can remember when only one person in the team had permission to use email.  Nowadays, emails, texts and social media are the cornerstone of communication.

And it’s not just technology that’s changed.  Information is available at the touch of the button. Anyone can find out the answer to (almost) any question in under a minute.  Politics is changing too, look at the seismic shift brought about by Brexit and Trump.

Jenny Blake sums it up beautifully in her book Pivot: “If change is the only constant in life let’s get better at it”.  By developing adaptability in our business model and ourselves, we can anticipate changes and lead our teams with authenticity and confidence.

As Nancy Duarte tells us in Illustrate: “Leaders anticipate the future…[they] shape and bring it forth.”  So we need to be open to all the possibilities that arise, willing and able to adapt both ourselves and our services quickly, responding to the ever-changing world we live in.

B is for Bouncebackability

Being adaptable comes at a price.  We won’t success at everything we try. Sometimes we’ll misjudge the changes, back the wrong horse or, even worse, fail to act.

As aspiring authentic leaders we have to learn that there’s nothing wrong with any of these, that failures are part of the learning curve and are actually incredibly important.  We need to see them in the context of Angela Duckworth’s concept of grit or, to use a term which originated in the fanatical world of UK soccer, we need to develop bouncebackability.

By telling our teams we will fail along the way, we’re preparing them for the challenges ahead.  We’re encouraging them to be brave and try things and we’re removing the paralysing effect of waiting for everything to be perfect.

Bouncebackability instigates a culture with a growth mindset, turning setbacks into future successes, making failure not a permanent position but a necessary step.  As Carol Dweck tells us, exceptional people as seeming “to have a talent for converting life’s setbacks into successes”.

We need to encourage and embed a culture of bouncebackability into the teams we lead and the organisations we work for.

C is for Creativity

And finally, to do all this we need to foster our creativity. To be flexible and adaptable we must be creative.  We need to be able to look at the challenges facing our services and discover new, better, more robust ways of delivering them.

As the Monty Python veteran John Cleese reminds us “creativity is not a talent, it’s a way of operating”.

We’re not born creative, it’s not a gift we either have or don’t have.  It’s something we learn, a skill we can develop.  We need to strengthen our creative muscle by finding the courage to be authentic and to take risks.  This, in turn, will strengthen and develop our creativity.

MIhaly Csikzentmihalyi’s research shows that creative people are both humble and proud, they’re playful and disciplined.  And the key unlocking creativity is a passion for what they do.  Passion that brings us right back to authenticity.

So, as leaders, we can be authentic in what we do.  It really is as simple as ABC…

Want to catch up on all of last week’s Big Ideas Summit activity? Join the group here

Hiring And Retention In The Digital Workplace

Hiring top talent in the age of the digital workplace is going to be a little different. How can procurement prepare for workplace 4.0?

Hemin Xylan/Shutterstock.com

Join The Big Ideas Summit 2017 group to access all of last week’s discussions and exclusive video content.

Workplace 4.0, or the new digital workplace, is not all about data-driven processes, smart devices and the internet of things; it’s about hiring and retaining talented employees to extract the best results from the implementation of new and advanced technologies.

Simple, repetitive work in both manufacturing and administrative industries can be automated, but we will always need human brains for hire.

The Digital Opportunity

Companies are changing what they buy. We need new suppliers from different markets; end users are putting revised requirements on the table all the time. It’s a bonus for procurement to be able to participate directly in the sourcing process and show where they can add value in this field.

For example, the traditional I.T. category has expanded to include telecommunications and packaged systems solutions and has become a high value category with multiple and complex commodities. Software, communication devices and electronic components which require a greater level of skill to manage will be sourced more frequently.

Job descriptions need to be re-written and a different approach is needed to hire and retain these skilled employees. People are increasingly being hired for fixed-term contracts and project work in these types of procurement roles rather than being offered full-time permanent jobs. Much of the work is not location-specific and does not require adherence to strict office hours. To understand how to manage these workers, we have to know what drives them at work.

What Do 4.0 Workers Want?

The job seeker wants to work for an organisation that, in no particular order:

  • Provides opportunities for ongoing learning, growth and creative challenge
  • Has an equitable reward system that recognises success
  • Allows time and location flexibility in working practices
  • Employs far-sighted leaders that support collaboration and innovation
  • Supports a team-oriented work culture based on open communication and feedback
  • Has a pro-active approach to ethics and transparency
  • Promotes sustainability and recognises the “triple bottom line” — financial, social and environmental measures of success
  • Knows how to have fun (within limits)

Attracting and Retaining a Mobile Workforce

Are employers ready to provide everything on the wish list? According to  a recent Deloitte study, today’s millennials place less value on visible, well-networked and technically-skilled leaders. Instead, they define true leaders as strategic thinkers, inspirational, personable and visionary.

Organisations that want to keep pace will not only have to upgrade technically, but work on their organisational structures, flatten hierarchies and adjust their corporate culture, even soften some maybe outdated workplace rules.

The key to success in retaining talented employees is for organisations to have the structure and policies that support the new flexible working conditions. Human Resources managers are still scratching their heads about how to devise suitable reward systems, manage worker performance and provide training, especially for part-time employees and freelancers.

Training and Up-Skilling

Traditional methods of upgrading skills such as classroom training and on-the-job coaching may not be suitable in the Workplace 4.0. Continuous lifetime learning will have to be provided as roles evolve and advances in technology demand changes in job content. There will be a greater need to provide on-line facilities for e-learning so that everyone, including remote workers, can keep pace with the developments in the profession.

Work Is Life

There is already a blurring of the boundaries between work time and leisure time. Some conflict areas are arising such as actual or perceived electronic surveillance and having to be available or on standby every waking hour.

Companies must develop strategies for a healthy balance between security, privacy and trust in their workers, applying the same level of management and administrative support to those that check into the office every day and those who work remotely.

Want to catch up on all of last week’s Big Ideas Summit activity? Join the group here

Hope For the Best And Plan For The Worst: Dr Linda Yueh Talks Trump and Trade

Dr Linda Yueh, a renowned economist, broadcaster and Adjunct Professor of Economics for London Business School, discusses how supply managers can react to the major shifts in globalisation, trade and protectionism under Trump.

pittawut/Shutterstock.com

Yueh spoke with Philip Ideson as part of Procurious Even Bigger Ideas, a 5-part podcast series sponsored by State of Flux. You can access the series exclusively on Procurious. 

As the world watches President Trump’s next move to discover which of his campaign promises he is likely to deliver on, Dr Linda Yueh hopes that the potential impacts on globalisation are being overexaggerated.

“It’s hard to see how any one country could turn back globalisation, because globalisation isn’t just about trade agreements. National borders have less meaning now than they did in the past. That being said, protectionist sentiment is certainly on the rise.”

Protectionism is costly to trade 

Donald Trump successfully tapped into the feeling that globalisation hasn’t benefited lower-income, lower-skilled people as much as those of higher income and higher skills.

“Can this be rectified? If we’re starting a new phase of globalisation, there could be a reluctance to proceed at the pace we’ve had over the past couple of decades. If globalisation is going to work, we all have a responsibility to ensure policies around trade are more equitable so it doesn’t impact on any particular group.”

According to Yueh, the increase in protectionist sentiment around the world is likely to impact the cost of doing global trade. “Business need to be wary around protectionist sentiment being translated into additional customs checks, higher tariffs on exports and imports, or taxes on where a company locates its production.

Practically, protectionism can lead to enormous supply chain disruption. Goods or farm products can get held up at the border – for fresh fruit such as tomatoes, a few days’ delay can be devastating. Protectionism would only lead to higher costs, and ultimately that’s bad for the consumer because the cost will affect them”.

What about China?

Withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership is consistent with President Trump’s focus on American jobs, American wages, and his Made in America campaign. “Trump made it clear that America First is the overriding economic principle,” says Yueh.

The TPP was going to link America with Pacific Rim countries and was part of the previous administration’s “Asia Pivot”, designed to increase their influence in Asia. The TPP didn’t include China so it was a way of asserting America’s role in the region. The big question is whether putting America first means withdrawing from international supply chains, leading to an economic impact that may not actually be so good for multi-national American companies.”

Yueh comments that there’s an indication from China that they may be willing to step into a stronger leadership position in the global economy as America withdraws.

“We’ve heard China’s views of globalisation from President Xi Jinping at the World Economic Forum in Davos. I’ve also heard from other Chinese policy-makers at various meetings around the world that China has always been reluctant to take a strong leadership position in the global economy. Their main focus has always been on domestic development.”

“If there’s a void, power will fill it. I think that’s essentially what we’re seeing. I would stress that the Chinese position is to support globalisation, because globalisation has helped its economy. It’s contributed to its remarkable growth, but they’re reluctant leaders – they’re not leaping into this space.”

In Yueh’s opinion, we’re unlikely to see a trade war despite Trump’s posturing on the topic. “I think there’s too much to lose for all counties. In reality, businesses will continue to sell to consumers all around the world. They produce overseas because that gives them a supply chain advantage. Political rhetoric won’t change this”.

How should supply managers react to uncertainty?

Yueh advises that procurement and supply management professionals should:

  • Plan ahead for supply chain and market access disruption
  • Follow closely the policies as they appear
  • Look ahead to how you would reorganise your supply chain and the location of where you would deliver your services, depending on the industry that you’re in.
  • Plan out scenarios that anticipate increases in cost and work out ways to grow the business taking into account potential disruptions.

“When we see big structural shifts in policy, it can take some time before we understand the impact on businesses. All you can do is to look at your strategy for the years ahead and be alert to policy changes, whether it’s around TPP, NAFTA or the timeline for Brexit, and plan scenarios accordingly. To quote a former British Prime Minister, “You hope for the best and plan for the worst.”

Procurious Even Bigger Ideas is a 5-part podcast series available exclusively to Big Ideas Digital Delegates. Sponsored by State of Flux, this series features interviews with five of the most intriguing power players at this year’s Big Ideas Summit in London.

How To Convince Hostile Stakeholders To Adopt New Technology

Simona Pop’s Big Idea provides a recipe for convincing even the most unwilling departmental heads to embrace new technology.

Register as an online delegate for the London Big Ideas Summit 2017 here.

Deciding to adopt a new technology has historically been a pain in the ass. An expensive, dull, prolonged pain nobody wants to deal with. The problem I have is that those adjectives belong to OLD tech. Putting nimble new technology in the same pile with 90s software is like mixing vodka with milk. It may have worked for the Mad Men of the 50s but it is an unnatural association. (I watched Mad Men until the 5th series then lost interest, by the way.)

Here’s the gist of it: people need to be comfortable with the cost and potential risk of adopting new technology. How do you make them comfortable? By providing “proof of concept” and calculating these costs and potential risks. One simple guideline is the 10X rule: if you can expect a return of 10 times your investment, then it’s worth it.

However, with technology – especially if it spans across different departments – you must take into account that your gains will come from any of several improvements, or a combination of improvements:

  • Cost reduction
  • Efficiency improvement
  • Fraud prevention
  • Admin processing speed
  • Mobilising the workforce
  • Product/service enhancement
  • Competitive environment

Your gains will be the sum total of all factors. If adopting a new technology provides an improvement in one factor but it’s at the expense of another factor, it may not be worth adopting. This tends to limit everything to a financial view though. A far better formula includes non-financial factors, some of which will outweigh the financial ones. You need to also remember that some investments in new technology can require at least a year to show their true value.

Managing risk should also be incorporated into your analysis, but remember that you take a risk whether you adopt a new technology or not. The advantages a new technology provides may not be obvious – until a competitor adopts that technology and makes your competitive disadvantage clear. In that case, adopting a new technology reactively will put you on the back foot. Playing catch-up is never a good business move!

Risk Reduction Recipe

Let’s call it – new tech is the unknown. The unknown is typically scary to humans. And since I am all about the H2H in business, working to remove that fear is key to successful tech adoption.

One sure way to reduce the risk is to go for a taster: a proof-of-concept implementation. Starting small & early allows you to identify problems early when they are far easier and less expensive to correct. It also makes it easy to start over if the proverbial hits the fan.

When rolling out new technology across multiple departments, you’re guaranteed to encounter a mixed bag of responses. From enthusiastic stakeholders who “get it” straight away, to nervous – and sometimes downright hostile – departmental heads who are terrified of change, you’re going to have to manage them all.

Here’s the secret – rather than trying to beat hostile stakeholders into submission with the force of your arguments, ask the willing departments to do the job for you. Carry out a proof of concept with your supporters so you have the evidence required to overcome any objection, and go back to the risk-averse stakeholders with your advocates at your side.

Also keep in mind that both organisational and process changes will be needed when bringing in tech. Procedural changes are very common. The reason why you are looking at that tech is typically to improve current processes you have found lacking. You must be aware that tech is here to improve NOT replicate. Trying to fit clunky processes on efficient technology is not only frustrating but a complete waste of time and resource. Changes to previous processes will need to happen and you will have to expect some resistance to those changes. Again, human nature.

The mark of good technology for me is its accessibility and great user experience across the board (from top to bottom, from left to right). Because you are effecting change (and that’s difficult enough), the very last thing you need is that change to come in the form of clunky, pain in the ass – MS-DOS looking software.

In my quest to empower people through tech, one problem I come across a lot is: “How much resource do I need from our side because we really cannot spare anyone?” This question is proof of a bad reflex left over from dealing with old tech. The type of tech that takes a year just to implement, another year to train for and another to realise it’s not right for you anyway even though it is costing you serious cash. The type of tech that is SO unlike what you know and love in your personal life, it might as well be alien. A vintage alien at that.

Clear communication will help overcome the organisational and process challenges. When people get that you are in fact trying to empower them to work better and easier, they will want to be part of that higher drive.

As Richard Branson says: “Screw it, let’s do it!” Move quickly, find out what works and what doesn’t. Stalling, procrastinating of burying your head in the sand are NOT ways to avoid a pain in the ass.

This article was first published on InstaSupply.

Stay tuned for more Big Ideas from Simona Pop as we lead up to the Big Ideas Summit 2017!

Join the conversation and register as a digital delegate for Big Ideas 2017 now!

The Big Ideas Summit 2017: The After-Party

No one likes to reach the end of a great procurement  party. Luckily there’s still a whole lot more Big Ideas Summit content to come…

Join The Big Ideas Summit 2017 group to access all of yesterday’s discussions and exclusive video content.

Yesterday Procurious gathered 50 of procurement’s top thought leaders in London for the Big Ideas Summit 2017.

We heard from a number of  inspiring speakers, sparked exciting discussion and shared our Big Ideas for procurement in 2017. Conversation topics ranged from economics to futurism, from cognitive technology to  releasing creativity and everything in-between.

It was wonderful to see some familiar faces at this year’s event and lots of new ones too.

Big Ideas By Numbers

But the fun didn’t stop in London. Our digital delegates from all around the globe followed the day’s events via social media.

3,400 people visited Procurious to access Big Ideas content discussions and videos.

On twitter, the #BigIdeas2017 hashtag  was tweeted 1,850 times and had over 6.4 million impressions.

The Big Ideas Summit After-party

Don’t worry- The Big Ideas party isn’t over just yet!

Throughout the next week, we’ll be uploading all the video content into the learning section on Procurious. You’ll hear from each of our attendees on their Big Ideas  for procurement.

Whether it’s scaring yourself daily, paying your bills or turning statements into questions there’s a whole range of thought provoking advice to take on board.

Here’s a little taster of what’s to come:

If you’re feeling inspired by these videos, there’s still time for you to submit a Big Idea’s video. You’ll find a reminder of how to do so here.

Turning Statements Into Questions

Our first Big Ideas video comes from Creative Change Agent, James Bannerman. James wants procurement pros to start turning statements into questions in order to unleash their creative genius.  Check out the video to find out more.

You can hear more from James in our podcast series, Even Bigger Ideas. 

Even Bigger Ideas Podcast Series 

Want to hear more from some of our speakers? The final Even Bigger Ideas podcast was released today. Futurist Anders Sorman-Nilsson talks about how we can seamlessly transition between ordinary, analogue world to the extraordinary, digital world and who will thrive in this era of cyber disruption. You can listen to the Even Bigger Ideas Podcast Series here.

Want to catch up on all of yesterday’s Big Ideas Summit activity? Join the group here