You’re being asked to source more sustainable products, meet climate goals, anticipate post-pandemic supply chain shifts and reduce end of life impact. It’s a challenging task, particularly with IT products. The good news is, many procurement professionals have taken on this assignment before you, and they’re here to help.
With more than 50 million metric tons generated annually, e-waste has become the world’s fastest-growing waste stream. Only around 20% of global e-waste is actually responsibly recycled.
With the typical IT contract based on a three-to-four-year use cycle, the piles of e-waste are growing ever larger. While procurement with a purpose can net you impacts across the organisation, the solution is circularity, an approach gaining traction around the world.
Transitioning from a linear to a circular economy can solve some of society’s most pressing sustainability challenges when it comes to IT products. In this blog, we share expert tips on how to source sustainable products, cut costs and meet climate goals through circularity – the solution for circular procurement of IT products.
In a linear economy, we make products from virgin natural resources and we discard those products once we’re done using them — often after a relatively short time. Today’s linear consumption creates substantial carbon dioxide emissions, exhausts natural resources and creates vast amounts of hazardous waste.
In a circular economy, resources are handled more responsibly, with a goal of extending the lifetime of products and recirculating all materials without producing any waste. Circularity means no waste, lower emissions, longer lifespan, lower costs, and a cleaner environment.
Where do we start?
Circularity isn’t an abstract notion. Many organisations are practising it now. They’re demanding – and getting – change from suppliers.
A new report from TCO Development, the organisation behind the leading global sustainability certification for IT products TCO Certified, offers concrete examples of organisations and manufacturers practising circularity. The report sets out how the circular economy helps solve many of the most pressing sustainability challenges associated with IT products. They’ve distilled their research into 33 tips for bringing circularity to your organization.
Based on the interviews with experts around the globe, here are the top five tips to make your procurement more sustainable.
1. Use your IT products longer: this is the single most important thing you can do to reduce the consumption of natural resources and cut greenhouse gas emissions. And it cuts costs.
The studies show that simply adding two years to a laptop’s life reduces emissions by 30 percent per year. And extending the life of a computer workstation from three to six years saves 28 percent on costs. To keep computers in circulation longer, buy durable products that are possible to repair and upgrade, and choose models with enough performance to cover long-term needs.
2. Work to gradually implement circular practices in your organisation. Take-back programs are an easy way to start.
Large brand owners such as Dell, HP and Lenovo are starting to see IT equipment as a service. They, and all other brand owners with products certified according to the criteria in TCO Certified, have programs that take back computers after your organisation is finished with them. It’s an easy first step to add this to your organisation’s purchasing process.
3. Think circular when you purchase IT products. Use circular criteria.
For example, add specifications for durability and repairability that will allow you to keep products longer, and criteria for reduction or elimination of hazardous substances that make materials more recyclable. Communicate your goals and tactics with internal and external stakeholders throughout the IT product life cycle.
4. Give your IT products a second life by reselling them.
Even if they no longer meet the needs of your organisation, your equipment still has value. Discuss resale options with a reputable refurbishment or remanufacturing firm that also ensures your data stays secure. Consider charitable donations or surplus resale to employees.
5. Acknowledge that circularity is a team effort and that no one can do it alone. Internal and external cooperation is crucial!
Invite decision makers and specialists from at least your IT, procurement, sustainability, finance, facilities and communication teams to create circular practices inside your organization. And don’t go it alone – team up with other buyers to increase your purchasing power and influence. The Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council is a good place to start. Learn more about TCO Certified and get free support with your sustainable IT procurement.
As manufacturers are moving circularity forward through product design and service offerings, what’s the role of procurement? Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council CEO Donna Westerman sees procurement professionals as key to driving demand for change.
“Procurement has the power to influence an entire product ecosystem. The decisions made on what to buy impact not only product design but also how those products affect our environment and business resiliency.” Westerman said. ”Now, more than ever, procurement is at the forefront of what a sustainable future can look like.”
Take the first step
The key learning from all the interviews with industry leaders and organisations is simple. Get started. The transition to the circular economy is essential, and we all need to play an active part in it. It doesn’t matter so much what the first step is, as long as you take it. As Chris Fielden, Group Supply Chain Director for Innocent Drinks said, being unafraid to fail is key.
To see the 33 hands-on tips for circular management of IT products from TCO Development, and read the full report, Impacts and Insights: Circular IT Management in Practice, click here.
When things get too hard, do you ever want to give up? Here’s how to persevere when you get that uneasy feeling
This year more than ever before, we’ve heard the word ‘new normal.’ We know that life may not go back – soon or ever – to what it was before. But how do we adapt to that? And when things get tough again, which invariably they will, how do we persevere through the challenges and come out on top?
One incredible person who certainly knows a thing or two about how to adapt and persevere is Nicky Abdinor, a clinical psychologist, ability advocate, and founder of the non-profit, Nicky’s Drive. Through her work as a psychologist and her own incredible life experience, Nicky deeply understands what it means to adapt and persevere, and her advice is an inspiration to us all.
Here’s what you’ll learn in our incredible 15 minute podcast with Nicky:
What does adaptation and perseverance really mean?
Nicky is not simply a scholar who understands a concept – adaptation and perseverance have been her personal life mantra since she was born. Nicky was born without arms and also with shortened legs. Nicky’s parents, who had no idea that she had a disability until she was born, were totally unprepared for it. But instead of focusing on what Nicky couldn’t do, her parents decided to focus on what she could do. Growing up, Nicky firmly remembers her parent’s attitude towards everything:
‘From the beginning, my parents decided to focus on my strengths. Instead of thinking “oh, can Nicky do that?” they instead said “How can Nicky do that?”’
Given her disability, things that came easily to others were not always easy for Nicky. She didn’t focus on that. Instead, she quickly learnt to be flexible in how she approached challenging situations, and adopted a problem-solving mindset. Everything she did, she approached with curiosity and decided that adversity could be to her advantage.
Adaptation and perseverance, Nicky, represents exactly this. Having the mindset and flexibility to navigate difficult situations, and persevering through them, even under challenging circumstances.
How do we overcome a lack of self-belief when we need to persevere?
At times, all of us struggle with our own self-belief, and it can get in the way of us persevering through challenging situations. We have to turn that self-belief on, says Nicky, and simultaneously turn off the voice in our heads that tells us we can’t do it. And she has an intriguing recommendation for how we do so:
‘To overcome the idea you might have in your head that “I’m not good enough,” you need to recognise that your brain has its own hard drive, and it has the tendency to store things that are quite critical.’
Nicky gives a good example of this – something that we can all relate to:
‘Say you did a workshop and you asked for feedback, and nine out of ten people said they loved the workshop. But one person said they didn’t learn anything.’
‘The hard drive of your brain would be more likely to store the feedback of that one person, and you might dwell on that.’
In order to overcome that hard-wired negative feedback, Nicky recommends you focus on one thing and one thing alone. Discover what that is in the podcast.
How do we get better at adaptation and perseverance?
For Nicky, one of her favorite quotes that is now more meaningful than ever, is from Viktor Frankl, author of ‘Man’s Search for Meaning.” After his time in Auschwitz, he wrote:
‘When we’re no longer able to change our situation, that is when we are challenged to change ourselves.’
What this means is that in many situations, we may not have control of much, but what we do have control of is how we perceive those situations, and how we change our behaviour accordingly. This might sound easy, says Nicky, but behavioural change is hard. It takes more than simply reading an article entitled ‘10 steps to stop procrastinating’ or ‘5 steps to a more positive mindset,’ for example.
If we want to make sustainable changes in our behaviour, Nicky says, we should ask ourselves these four important questions:
What is the behaviour I want to change?
When do I need to change it?
How can I change it?
Why do I want to change this behaviour?
Nicky emphasizes that we need to be clear about our answers to these questions, though, one question is far more critical than the others for a very important reason. Find out what it is and why in the podcast.
How do we pick ourselves up again when we’re down?
A big part of perseverance is picking ourselves up when we’re feeling down. Usually, when we’re down people tell us to focus on the good things in our lives. More importantly, Nicky actually believes that we need to be a little more accepting of the vast spectrum of our emotions:
‘In order to persevere, we actually need to accept that the entire range of emotions, from joy to sadness, are part of life. We don’t need to feel happy all the time.’
‘When we try to avoid difficult feelings, that can do more harm than good. Right now, we’re all on an emotional rollercoaster. We need to allow ourselves to feel.’
In order to smooth the rollercoaster though, Nicky recommends we do a few important things. Discover what they are in the podcast.
Nicky Abdinor’s podcast on adaptation and perseverance is part of our IBM Sterling Supply Chain Career Bootcamp. Designed to power your mind and help you excel, the Bootcamp consists of 6 electrifying podcasts with internationally renowned experts and speakers. Sign up here if you haven’t already.
Reaching influencer status on social media in any industry comes down to two things. Procurement and Supply Chain Influencer, Kelly Barner reveals what what they are and why it is important…
With world social media day only moments away, it’s time to reflect on how far the procurement profession has come in promoting itself to the broader business community and the world.
It was only six short years ago that we launched Procurious as the world’s first online network for procurement and supply chain….and since then we have seen a plethora of social media influencers emerge representing our profession.
But before any of us burst onto the scene, Kelly Barner was already here, promoting the work of our profession on Buyers Meeting Point, publishing books and writing original content to help upskill the profession while promoting key individuals, brands, publications and events within the industry.
Thinkers 360 and CPOStrategy Magazine recently recognised Kelly as the number one influencer on social media for procurement. So what has been her secret? How do you become the most influential person in a space where everyone is vying for attention? I reached out to Kelly to find out.
Kelly Barner: In my opinion, reaching influencer status on social media in any industry comes down to two things:
1. Consistently working at it day in and day out. I’ve been sharing and engaging on social media since 2010. In the early days, I didn’t have a following, but I stayed on course, actively promoting my own content and following others and commenting on their content. I use some platforms to help me automatically promote content periodically after the main promotional window is over, but I do 99% of my social media work the ‘old fashioned way’ – I do it myself, as me, every day. If your online brand is important to you, you can’t fake authenticity. Give it 5-10 minutes a day, every day. That is enough to make a noticeable difference.
2. Not generating a following for the sake of the following, but looking at it as a natural (and very valuable!!) byproduct of doing excellent work, writing excellent content, and building real connections with real people. If you are just focused on building up your numbers, you will end up with an audience built for the wrong reason, and those connections won’t help you achieve your primary mission.
Tania: When the field is open wide, it can often be tough to find the courage to “be the first” and get started. I know it found me a while to “find my voice” (and I still may be looking!), but it took a lot of courage to get started sharing my stories on social media.
Kelly: This is one of those cases where it helps not to have any idea what you are doing. I’m sure I made a lot of mistakes along the way (and continue to make them to this day), especially since I don’t have any training in marketing, PR, or social media strategy. But it has helped to have good friends by my side along the way. The procurement community is made up of amazing, generous, inspiring people that never fail to inspire me with new ideas and approaches to tough problems.
Tania: But now the field isn’t wide open, we have a lot of influencers in our space, and in some ways, that could be more daunting – you could feel that you don’t have a unique story to tell, that it’s all been said..and maybe by people that you think are better than you.
Kelly: Everyone has a unique perspective to offer – that is the first, most important lesson I learned from Jon Hansen. He has been my mentor since day one, and early on I asked him why he was helping me. We both had blogs, and I wondered why he didn’t see me as a competitor. He pointed out (in his friendly, genuine way) that as long as we both write from our own point of view, there is no such thing as competition. No one can ever be you, and as a result, you will always have a unique offering to bring to the market. You can also beat people on time and quality. Work faster, and make sure your work is cleaner, that everyone else’s, and the readers will follow.
Tania: I’ve always encouraged our community that they have a lot of great stories to tell. We have such interesting careers, interfacing with so many interesting, unique issues every day.
Kelly: The secret to great writing and social media engagement is… READING! I know that isn’t the most popular activity these days because we are all so busy. But it is absolutely critical. Read content on procurement, supply chain, business, communication – absolutely everything you can get your hands on. I read several newspapers every day as well as blogs, and monthly/quarterly business journals. It is amazing how often inspiration and insight come from unexpected sources. And – back to the idea of having a unique point of view – since no one else will be reading the same mix of sources as you, no one can duplicate your perspective.
Tania: With due cause, COVID has been a hectic time in procurement and on the news scene. Our recent How Now report showed how well our profession handled the stress and actually have an increased interest and commitment to building a career in procurement and supply chain.
Kelly: I think procurement has done an outstanding job keeping the lights on in these unprecedented times. Who else knows how to get hard to find products and services? Who else can be creative about solving problems on the fly? Our companies have relied upon our agility and determination, but so have our families. I’m sure I am not the only procurement professional who applied her knowledge of supply chain management to keep the house stocked with food, medicine and – yes – even toilet paper. We’ve had some odd meals (turkey kielbasa, stewed tomatoes, and buttered toast, anyone?) but we always had something to eat – and I never missed a deadline at Buyers Meeting Point.
Given the additional information supply chains have received since the pandemic began, I think there is good reason to be hopeful that a flood of talented, hardworking professionals from other fields will join procurement and supply chain because of what they have read and seen during the shutdowns.
Tania: Speaking of increasing influence, Kelly, you have just made a big strategic decision to purchase MyPurchasingCenter from another female entrepreneur.
Kelly: MyPurchasingCenter was owned by MediaSolve Group, a B2B Marketing Company led by Michelle Palmer, and it was edited for a long time by another well-known figure in the procurement industry: former Purchasing Magazine Senior Editor Susan Avery. They were both determined that ownership of MyPurchasingCenter go to someone that wanted it for the right reasons; not to part it out or gut its assets, but who would show respect for its legacy as a standalone information resource.
I worked on this acquisition for A LONG TIME. I knew Buyers Meeting Point was uniquely positioned to show the respect that Michelle and Susan wanted to see (and rightly so!) and to create tangible value with the MyPurchasingCenter brand, content, and social media accounts.
Tania: Just like when you started Buyers Meeting Point, this acquisition is a big step, it must have taken courage. Were you nervous about the next step. Can you give any advice to people wanting to take that first entrepreneurial step?
Kelly: My short answer to that question would be, “Just GO!” With the exception of ensuring your personal finances are in a state to support the leap before making it, you can’t overthink the decision to step out on your own. If you do, logic will stack up against the decision to become an entrepreneur every time. Nothing in the world can prepare you for starting a business, but no professional experience offers more riches. The highs and lows, gains and pains are like nothing else. I highly recommend that anyone who gets the ‘itch’ seriously consider acting on it!
Tania: What do you think the profession will look like in five years? What will MPC/Buyers Meeting Point look like in five years?
Kelly: In five years, I think procurement will be a primarily data-driven profession. Technology will be able to handle a lot of the process work we do today, leaving us to analyze data and work at the highest levels of the enterprise to inform and contribute to the development of corporate strategy.
My plan for BMP and MPC is to continue supporting all of the information needs of procurement and supply chain professionals. Five years from now, I imagine the full MPC content archive will be back online and I will have had some other creative spark about how to perpetuate the brand on my own. I can’t wait to find out what I come up with!
Tania: There’s a few things I’ve always admired about Kelly (being a lovely person would be the first), but from a business perspective, that she’s achieved this number one status, that she’s managed to do this without having to leave her family and travel like a madwoman around the globe to build her network and that she’s a great collaborator.
We’ve talked about the achievement of her influence, but what about being able to build this global network without travelling. Kelly, what’s your secret? Do you think face to face is a myth? Has all our Zoom, Webex, etc during COVID proved your approach?
Kelly: This is absolutely a unique point about my experience. I was a consultant traveling almost 100% of the time when I had my daughter 12 years ago. Overnight, I went from jetsetting to full-time first time parent, and it was quite a shock. I joined Buyers Meeting Point in 2009, 4 months before my oldest son was born (referring back to my point about about not overthinking the leap to entrepreneurship – logic would have told me that was a TERRIBLE idea! Who starts a business with a newborn and a 20 month old?). My youngest son was born in 2012, so I have had babies and/or kids for every minute of my entrepreneurial journey. It is amazing what technology will allow you to achieve. I don’t even have a home office. Before COVID-19, I worked at the kitchen table, and after my family all came home to roost full time, I moved to the dining room because I didn’t want peanut butter and jelly splattered on my laptop.
I’m also lucky that I live about an hour from Boston, which brings a lot of people into my backyard. I make the most of those opportunities, and I have met many of my global colleagues – including you, Tania! – in person. There is something magical about sitting face to face across the table from someone you already have an online relationship with.
There is no question that being able to travel would have accelerated my career and influence, but not being able to travel wasn’t a deal breaker. Now that everyone else is in the same boat, I have an advantage because I’ve been working this way for over a decade.
Tania: And collaboration, you’ve always collaborated with others in the profession – Jon Hansen, Phil Ideson, and Stephanie Lapierre to name a few. I totally subscribe to this, we’re going to get a lot further promoting the profession if we all promote each other. What’s been your approach to collaboration? How do you choose who you want to collaborate with? Will you be collaborating more or less with others into the future?
Kelly: Deciding who to collaborate with has always been a gut decision for me. If I like you, there is almost nothing I won’t do for you. I received a ton of goodwill from people who were practically strangers when I was first on my own, and I have made a point of paying that generosity forward. This is another one of those areas where you can’t fake authenticity. If you really like someone, the collaboration comes naturally. If you don’t ‘click’ with someone, nothing can fix it. I’ve actually gotten stomach aches from dealing with certain people over the years, and I trust that 100%. After all, what is the good of taking on all of the risk of being out on your own if you can’t reap the benefits of being able to decide who you will work with and for?
I hope that leaves everyone inspired, with some great practical tips for increasing your own social media influence.
From my own perspective, building a really compelling profile on Procurious is a great way to start promoting yourselves to 40,000 other procurement and supply chain pros around the world…and also connecting with them to solve your daily challenges.
Do you know the difference between strengths and skills? Discover what it is and how to use your strengths to your advantage.
Have you ever been so focused on a task that you completely lost track of time? Do you ever do something, and then ‘light up’ without even realising it? If you do, then it’s most likely that you’re using your strengths and that’s a good thing too – playing to your strengths is key to career performance, productivity and personal wellbeing. But if you don’t know what your strengths are, how do you discover them? And can you help others do the same?
As an occupational psychologist, helping others discover and utilise strengths to boost their performance has been the focus of my career and most recently, the focus of my work with some of the world’s most well-known organisations through my business, Bailey and French.
I recently shared some compelling insights with Tania Seary from Procurious, as part of the IBM Careers Bootcamp series. Here is a brief overview of what we discussed in the podcast, and why it’s a must-listen for anyone wanting to boost their own professional and personal performance:
What are our strengths and why do they matter?
Have you ever been asked what your strengths are? We all have. But in my experience, being able to provide an answer to that question doesn’t mean you actually know what your strengths are. In fact, many of us confuse strengths with skills, but they are fundamentally different. Let me explain.
People often make the assumption that if they’re good at something, that represents a strength for them. But if you are good at something, that’s a skill for you. A strength is so much more than that. A strength is something that you’re not only good at, but that you also truly enjoy doing.
Another point of confusion I’ve discovered is that many of us believe we develop our strengths at work. This isn’t true, though. We develop our strengths in a unique period of our lives. I explain more about when this is in the podcast, listen to it here.
How do we discover our strengths and how should we use them to boost our professional success?
Online, you’ll find a myriad of tools and tests that purport to help you analyse and discover your strengths. But in my experience with positive psychology, you don’t need complex tests to discover your true strengths. The answer is much more simple than that.
In order to discover your strengths, I usually recommend that you start keeping a diary. In that diary, over the course of a few weeks, write down all of your experiences, both positive and negative, and both inside and outside of work. Then, go through your diary and look at themes. These themes are important, as usually you’ll find that there are a lot of activities you do on autopilot, and some that really stand out as enjoyable.
Once you’ve identified your themes, in order to further identify your true strengths, I recommend that you ask yourself the following questions:
When was the last time I was totally absorbed in what I was doing to the point I lost track of time?
What was the best day of the last week and why?
When did I last ‘light up’ or get excited when talking about something I did?
Keeping a journal, and asking yourself these three important questions should help you discover your strengths.
Throughout my career, I’ve seen an extraordinary number of organisations focus on fixing weaknesses. But ultimately, this is misguided. We all stand to gain so much more from discovering and utilising our own strengths (a key premise of positive psychology), as well as helping others discover and utilise theirs.
But how do you help others realise their strengths?
One method I always recommend is to offer people specific feedback when you see them doing something really well. This feedback, though, can’t just be any feedback. It has to be detailed enough to help them identify what they’re truly good at.
An example of this might be the feedback after someone has given you a report. Instead of simply saying ‘that was a good report,’ try to be more specific around what was good, for example, ‘the patterns you derived from the data in that report were extremely insightful.’
Why is this important? It’s because helping people realise their strengths is not just good for them, but it’s great for your team dynamic and for the relationship in general, for one important reason. Listen to the podcast to discover why that is.
Also in the podcast:
I discuss my key strength and how I personally discovered it
I detail why it’s so easy to talk about weaknesses.
Alex Bailey’s podcast on strengths and positive psychology is part of our IBM Sterling Career Bootcamp. Designed to power your mind and help you excel, the boot camp consists of 6 electrifying podcasts with internationally renowned experts and speakers. Sign up here if you haven’t already.
What trait will be the key to your success in 2020? We believe it will be resilience, and here’s why…
Right now, no person in the entire world would call 2020 ‘easy.’ Whether we’ve been challenged personally or professionally, this year has been like no other. Which is why this one particular trait is more important than ever, and it is…
In recent years, resilience has become somewhat of a buzzword within management circles. But what really is resilience and why do we need it?
Resilience, and more specifically, how to obtain it and use it to your advantage, has been the focus of my work for the last decade, and has inspired my now internationally-acclaimed book, Rise Warrior Rise. Through authoring my book, as well as working with numerous different organisations to help them transform their leadership capabilities through my Excelerate program, I’ve discovered what we can all do to build resilience and use it to accelerate our own personal and professional performance.
Doing so was the topic of my discussion with Tania Seary from Procurious, as part of the IBM Careers Bootcamp series. Here is a brief overview of what you’ll learn in our podcast:
What is resilience?
Resilience is often said to be the ability to recover from adversity, and cope with change and uncertainty. But does being ‘resilient’ then mean that you won’t experience emotions in times of stress?
From my research, I’ve discovered that being resilient doesn’t mean that you won’t experience life’s ups and down, in fact, it is only natural to experience these. Instead, resilience is the ability to still experience this depth and variation of emotion, but while doing so, be able to keep in touch with your best self.
In my experience, resilience is far more than what people typically describe it as. In fact, I believe resilience has another aspect to it entirely.
Why is resilience so important for professional and personal wellbeing? And what are the benefits of being resilient?
Resilience has become a buzzword for a reason – we all know it’s important. But why?
Professionally and personally, this year has been a challenge for all of us. And even though not every year will be as difficult as this one, we’ll always experience some challenges. This is exactly the reason why resilience is important – because we’ll always need it.
While researching for my book and throughout my career in general, I’ve come across a lot of people who may not be as resilient as they could be, and that has resulted in some concerning behaviours. For example, if something bad happens to someone who isn’t resilient, typically they get stressed, and then withdraw. From there, they occupy their mind with negative self-chatter, and then they can end up feeling anxious, depressed or worse.
But in good news, with resilience, the reaction can be the complete opposite. Instead of engaging in negative self-talk, those who are resilient typically tell themselves that the situation is temporary. And instead of getting stressed, their emotional and physical wellbeing stays intact, and they don’t lose touch with their vision for a great life.
The benefits of being resilient extend way beyond how you react when things get tough, though. From my experience, those who are resilient are more likely to lead abundant and opulent professional lives, and also are more likely to have success with their family and personal pursuits. In summary, resilient people are more likely to lead a full and rich life, without regret.
Think this sounds wonderful? It is, and there’s one more critical reason why. Learn what that is in the podcast.
How can we become more resilient?
It’s clear that being resilient pays off, both personally and professionally. How do we get better at it, though?
To help, I’ve created a 13-step framework for people to increase their level of resilience. If that sounds daunting, don’t worry – you don’t need to be good at every step. Excelling at just a few steps is all you need in order to make a substantial difference.
I won’t detail the 13 step framework here, but there is more information in the podcast if you’re interested. One important point, though, is that you do need to develop practices to keep you strong. An area that I recommend everyone works on is that of negative self-chatter.
We all experience negative self-chatter at some point, and this is because the mind can be fickle and it often focuses on the negative. How many times have you found yourself in a situation where someone has said something awful, and it’s completely ruined your day, despite many other positive things happening?
This is common, and we all need to do what we can to develop our own mechanisms to address it. For me personally, I’ve developed a unique routine to keep the negativity at bay. My routine includes getting up early in the morning, and doing some exercise (this might be yoga, walking or some weights). After I’ve done this, I then do exercises to regulate my breath. Even if I can’t regulate my mind, I try to regulate my breath. Finding something to focus on, for example my breath, enables me to enter a calm state. Then, I share positive words. I find that wholly rejuvenating.
This type of self-care is critical for all of us, as it replenishes our ‘fourth being.’ More on that in the podcast – listen to it here.
Remember, whoever you are and whatever your circumstances, you can build, and benefit from, resilience. I look forward to exploring the topic with you in more detail.
Roh Singh’s podcast on resilience is part of our IBM Sterling Career Bootcamp. Designed to power your mind and help you excel, the Bootcamp consists of 6 electrifying podcasts with internationally renowned experts and speakers. Sign up here if you haven’t already.
Innovation is everyone’s business. Accelerate the potential of your career with these tips on building your creative potential
Innovation isn’t just about Disruption with a capital ‘D’. It’s not just about the next big product out of Silicon Valley. It is about making improvements to our business models, supply chains, ways of serving customers and manufacturing processes.
Not only that, but innovation is also a mode of thinking, a way of being, and a journey we can all go on in our day to day work and life to improve our career prospects, productivity and even our wellbeing.
In this article, I will share some of the practical steps you can take to accelerate the potential of innovative thinking to transform your career and enhance your effectiveness at work.
These tips don’t just apply when you’re working on an obviously innovative project, but to every challenge you face. Go forth and innovate!
Why innovate at all?
Innovation is about supporting growth and looking for new opportunities to meet the needs, desires and expectation of customers, employees or other stakeholders. Innovation enables people to harness their own and their teams’ creative potential to solve real-world problems. If harnessed correctly it can improve employee engagement, customer satisfaction and bottom line revenue.
Not in A Creative Job? You Need To Be An Innovator Too!
Creativity is not the end game. Creativity is an enabler to help you to overcome a challenge or meet a need from your end user. It is a tool to help you move forward when you might be stuck. Every role will face problems that need to be solved. Every job involves processes that can be improved. Every career requires innovation to progress.
How to Be More Innovative
Be expansive in your thinking
We all make assumptions about our world and the problems we encounter. These assumptions can help us make lightning quick decisions that enable us to take action.
However, when you are faced with a problem or challenge, there is always the potential to do things better. This is where Innovation comes in.
To be expansive in your thinking, you need to suspend your judgement and forget your assumptions.
Say to yourself: how else could this work?
Then, when ideas comes to mind, ignore the voice that says, ‘this is a crazy idea and it won’t work’. Instead, ask yourself “under what circumstances could this be possible?”.
Most importantly, just because it hasn’t worked first time, don’t dismiss the idea – think like a start-up, find the learning and improve your idea.
Don’t accept the status quo; be a restless provocateur. Be curious to understand how others try and solve problems similar to yours, both within your industry and outside it. Look for stimulus to hope you see your problem from a new angle. You might find the solution somewhere, but more often, you will find principles that you can build on to develop your own innovative ideas to solve your specific problems.
Have some structure
Innovation can get a bad rap because it can seem woolly. Google say, ‘Creativity Loves Constraint’ and they are one of the best examples of an innovative organisation in the world! So, ensure you create a process to follow, map your stakeholders, agree draft timescales and use a methodology such as Design Thinking to help guide you from first observation through to launch.
Build a rough and scrappy prototype and test it with your key stakeholders. Give them a sense of the experience or the product and actively get them to tell you everything that is wrong or doesn’t work. Often, new innovations fail because the pilot only tested if it the idea could be operationalised – not if there was a genuine need or desire from the end user.
Be A Risk Taker
In uncertain times we will encounter so many unknown unknowns – we cannot possibly plan for all the challenges we will face. We will all have to think differently and invent new solutions to problems we don’t yet know about. By Prototyping and Testing with your end user you can mitigate risk.
The Biggest Tip For Innovation
Have Ideas not Thoughts. So often when we are asking for blue sky ideas we end up with non-specific Thoughts. An Idea is succinct, actionable and can be understood quickly by someone who was not in the room when it was created. A Thought is an intention but there is no clear path to next steps. Keep asking yourself and others ‘what’s the idea? What would we actually do? What would our end user experience differently’?
Ask yourself ‘can someone take this idea and do something specific with it?’ if they can, then it’s a good idea that’s ready for testing. If they can’t, go back to it and build it some more.
This will ensure your innovative thinking delivers results, which will enable you to stand out from the crowd and enhance your career prospects.
Catch Mok talk all things innovation in our highly anticipated Career Bootcamp with IBM Sterling Supply Chain. Register here.
As we emerge from lockdown and leave the safety of social isolation, we will need to drain what’s left of our almost empty resilience reserves to return to – or look for – work. Feeling anxious? Well, you are not alone … but the good news is that resilience is a learnable skill and boosting it could help you cope with the current crisis in confidence caused by the coronavirus.
If your resilience reserves are running low, you are not alone.
Mental health issues were already at epidemic levels before the coronavirus pandemic – and Covid-19 has only made them worse.
So, if you are worried about losing your job (or no longer have one), are feeling isolated and unsupported or are fearful about your health or that of a loved one, you will inevitably be feeling stressed – in the UK alone, half the population say their anxiety levels are “high”.
In the USA, 33 million Americans have already lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic, and although 8 in 10 are hopeful they will be re-hired, the coronavirus crisis has left 9 in 10 stressing about finances.
While in Australia, 1 in 4 say they are overwhelmed by loneliness when working from home, -with half of those economically impacted due to reduced hours or loss of job and stressed about job security.
So, this is a global problem – and one that affects professionals across all sectors. Those working in procurement and supply, which have seen dramatic shifts in supply chains as well as working practices, are not immune and are understandably feeling the strain.
Accept that this is the ‘new normal’
Right now, the only thing that is certain is uncertainty. So, it’s important to be kind to yourself and understand that the coronavirus crisis will inevitably take its toll on your mental wellbeing.
This is not a sign of weakness. It’s biology. In response to high levels of stress and anxiety, cortisol and adrenalin will pump through your body and your brain will start to function differently.
Blood flow will be directed to your flight or fight system priming you to run way from danger and, as a result, you will become more reactive and emotional and make decisions that are less rational and logical. No wonder we are all feeling unsettled.
Awareness of your mental state is key
So, the first step is to understand that there are physical – as well as psychological affects – of the coronavirus crisis.
To really understand how this is impacting you, use the heart rate monitor on your fitness tracker (if you use one) to see when your pulse spikes. Is it just before those chaotic conference calls where everyone is clamoring to be heard? Or does it spike when you wake up, check your emails and realize that you face yet another day of uncertainty?
According to Track Record, which uses Olympic training techniques to teach execs about stress, the key is to look at your heart rate variability not just the heart rate itself.
A sleep tracker is another useful tool. Poor sleep is a key indicator of high levels of stress and also shows that your body and mind is not getting a chance to recover from the pressures of the day. Recovery is key to boosting resilience but it is hard to find time to “get away” from the Covid crisis particularly as news of the latest infection rates and deaths is streaming 24/7.
Accept that your mental resilience important
At the same time track your mental state – many of us are hooked on fitness right now logging our times on the running machine etc. So just add this to the list. Note your feelings and what triggers you to feel stressed and anxious.
This will help you to monitor how your resilience is fluctuating. As with any exercise program (mental or physical) it is important to know where you are starting from so that you can track your progress as you build your mental toughness.
That’s why The Road to Resilience: Mental Toughness leadership series for The Faculty Management Consultants starts with self-awareness, to measure your MTQ (using a mental toughness questionnaire).
The Faculty (which works with Australia’s leading procurement teams and – like many of us – has adapted to the “new normal” by running everything online), now has a special focus on emotional resilience, in addition to technical skills, because it’s so important as we navigate this period of uncertainty.
So why does it matter? Well, being aware of where you sit on the resilience scale enables you to not only improve your score, it enables you to be more emotionally intelligent.
“You can become more aware of how tough or sensitive you need to be in any given situation – when to flex the toughness muscle, or give it a rest,” says Sally Lansbury, memberships director at The Faculty. “Remember, there are circumstances where having mental sensitivity is required… particularly right now.”
In addition to being self-aware and adapting your mental toughness to different situations, it is important to be risk-aware – something that the intrepid explorer Charlie Walker talked about in Procurious’s recent Virtual Future Leaders Roundtable in the UK.
Called “Rapid, Risk Aware and Resilient”, Charlie talked to procurement professionals about training to have fast reactions and training to deal with moments of risk. And while procurement professionals are not facing the challenge of a 43,000 mile bicycle ride across 60 countries (just one of Charlie’s many feats of endurance) they can train to boost their 3Rs, including resilience.
…and that you don’t have to struggle
We all know that some people are more resilient than others. However, what you might not realize is that you can change where you stand on the mental toughness scales – that’s because resilience is a plastic personality trait which means it can be developed.
So, in addition to being aware of how mentally tough you are – and how tough or sensitive you need to be at any given time – you should also understand that mental resilience can be learned and that now is the ideal time to start boosting your MT score.
The first step is to understand what it really is:
Mental Toughness describes the quality which determines, in large part, how we respond to stress, pressure and challenge … irrespective of the prevailing circumstances. – Dr Peter Clough.
Much of what we do is habit and that includes our response to stress and pressure. In the definition of MT “how we respond” are the three key words.
As part of your awareness exercise – which will help you to identify when you feel less resilient and when your stress levels spike – also take a note of how you respond to change and challenge.
Do you feel hopeless? Or overwhelmed? Perhaps you are angry or anxious?
Once you are more aware of your default setting in terms of “how you respond”, then you can start to change these automatic behaviours to the ones you want to adopt.
Changing any behaviour pattern takes time, but right now you can start with the first step: awareness.
This year’s Career Bootcamp is designed to ‘Power Your Mind’ and set you up with the skills to innovate, play to your strengths, and be more resilient. Register for your digital ticket here.
There’s a lot we can learn about resilience from this world-famous explorer.
No matter who you are or where you are in the world, the last few months have been particularly challenging. And while we’ve all struggled, those of us with one quality may have universally coped better than others. That quality is resilience.
Resilience, otherwise known as the ability to recover quickly from challenges, has long been lauded as an essential quality at work and in life, and now, it’s more important than ever. But as important as resilience is, it’s also known to be hard to foster, with experts saying that a lot of it comes down to whether we’ve faced challenging circumstances before, and expressly learnt how to cope.
One person who is incredibly experienced with all things resilience is George Bullard, so we decided to get his expert insights. George is a world-recording breaking explorer who is on a mission to rewild humans. He’s completed some truly incredible feats, including breaking the world record for an unsupported arctic journey (he spent 113 days in the Arctic when he was just 19), and crossing the ferocious North Atlantic ocean on a kayak (which he completed in 66 days) to unearth an ancient myth about the inuits.
Here’s what George had to say about how we can all be that bit more resilient:
1. Don’t self pity; ask for help
Currently, there’s memes circling on social media that implore us to be ‘our most productive ever.’ But as we watch the horrors of the current pandemic unfold before our very eyes, we all know that it can be quite hard to be productive – or even, to be our best selves.
But if you’re going to be more resilient, George says, at some point you do need to move beyond feelings of uncertainty and self-pity, and endeavour to get on with the task at hand. Communicating your feelings can help though, George, says, and we should always endeavour to do so.
George had some incredibly low points on his expeditions, but when he was at the height of his self-pity, he also had an important epiphany:
‘One of my expeditions was 53 back-to-back marathons, hauling everything we needed to survive a 2,211km journey. On the 53rd day of not seeing another human except for my team mate, I remember wishing I wasn’t there.’
‘I questioned what I was doing, why I even wanted to break the record. That morning I cried helplessly.’
‘But it didn’t help. Nobody came to my rescue. So when I had run out of tears, I stopped crying.’
2. Keep trying – and never give up
When we’re in stressful situations, our brains can sometimes tell us to effectively ‘give up and go home’ – or to stop trying. But if George has learnt anything throughout his expeditions, it’s that we need to fight the urge to give, and keep going. Resilience, he believes, is an attitude that defies what your brain is instinctively telling you – and for good reason.
Later on his arctic expedition, George experienced a true life or death situation. Amazingly, on day 104, he ran out of food:
‘The expedition had already been relentless – and then we ran out of food. We survived the last 9 days of the expedition eating small fat balls made of butter and oats.’
‘Words can’t really describe how it felt to run out of food on day 104, while living on ice, in a tent, and pulling your entire life on a sledge. I remember thinking “is this how I am going to die?”’
George’s experience, though, did teach him something important about how our brains operate:
‘[That experience] made me realise that humans are a remarkable species. We have this incredibly powerful brain, and it can make us feel and think things. Those feelings can impact our ability to endure.’
‘Our brains sometimes tell us to “give up” long before our bodies are actually tired.’
3. Focus on the journey, not the destination
By now, many of us have realised that unfortunately, this coronavirus crisis is a marathon, not a sprint. Knowing this, we need to prepare ourselves to be resilient for the long-term – but how?
George believes that the best way to ensure long periods of hardship is to change our focus. Specifically:
‘Avoid thinking about the destination. Instead, focus on the journey. Over the course of the pandemic, we will wish dream of the good days that will seem like an ice age ago, and wish that this isolation will end tomorrow.’
‘It won’t. Accept that you can’t control everything and enjoy each day for what it has to offer.’
Like on his expeditions, George thinks it’s important to focus on the basics … and remember to be grateful for them:
‘Covid-19 reminds us of what is really essential for survival. On my expeditions I prioritised the same things – food, water and warmth. Now we have the opportunity to be grateful for these things.’
4. Remain flexible
Throughout this crisis, we’ll all invariably have our good and bad days, with some a whole lot worse than others. But in order to be truly resilient, says George, we have to master the ‘bounceback’ – how quickly we rebound after setbacks. He believes that the key to doing so is by doing a few critical things:
‘There are so many unknowns in the current crisis, so the best way to handle this – and many other challenging situations – is to remain flexible, versatile and adaptable. That way, you’re prepared to face the setbacks which inevitably will come.’
Do you have any other tips for becoming more resilient in these challenging times? Share them with us in the comments section below.
How can you develop your own resilience, achieve self-mastery and successfully manage your personal energy? We take a look in this year’s Career Bootcamp as we encourage you all to ‘Power Your Mind’. Register here.
How do you pivot your operations? Here’s how. We discover how one fashion house started making scrubs.
Imagine, for a second, that during this pandemic, procurement simply wasn’t needed within your organisation. Your boss then came to you and said that the business valued you and thought you had some transferable skills, so they had decided you should switch into a sales role, immediately. How would you feel? What would you do?
Admittedly, in this situation many of us would panic. But right now, we don’t need to look far to find people that that exact situation has been thrust upon – namely, our suppliers. Throughout this pandemic, we’ve witnessed this exact, almost instant change, occurring from Ford and Tesla switching their production to making ventilators, to 3M making face masks. But how does it feel to have your world changed, overnight? And as the pandemic rolls on with no vaccine in sight, can we expect more suppliers to be doing this?
To get an insight into this fascinating transition from a supplier’s perspective, we spoke to Martin Kristensen, Director of the House of Kristensen. Incredibly, over the last few weeks Martin and his team has transitioned from manufacturing high fashion to making homemade scrubs, which are now being used by the NHS.
Martin, tell us about your business prior to now making homemade scrubs?
Sure, so House of Kristensen is a couture fashion house specialising in made-to-measure, bespoke designs. We create unique feature pieces for both private and public/professional clients, with our public pieces being quite high-profile.
For our private clients, we design mostly for special family occasions, such as weddings, birthdays, bar mitzvahs, etc. For our professional clients, we do everything from gown design for famous TV shows as ‘Strictly’ or ‘The Voice,’ to dressing stars for stage performances(we’ve worked with Katy Perry and Dame Shirley Bassey, to name a few). We also create stunning outfits for red carpet appearances, including Cannes Film Festival, the BAFTAs, and many more.
We understand that you’re based in London. Tell us how the coronavirus unfolded for you. What’s your personal experience been and how has it affected your business?
I couldn’t have been in a stranger situation when the Covid-19 escalation was first announced. I was actually running around a woodblock with camo-cream on my face on a training exercise with the British Army Reserves!
Prior to departure, though, I had left an action plan for my team with guidelines about what they should do if the situation escalated. My training was cancelled, so that allowed me to return to my team.
When I returned to London, immediately our focus was on adapting our workforce to be able to work from home, at least temporarily. This involved significant kit & equipment prep as well as material allocation so we could still execute our production schedule.
Beyond that – honestly – the outlook for us wasn’t that rosy. We’re fundamentally in the events business, and with Covid, most events were axed. We had a quarter of a million pounds’ worth of cancellations, and little room for new opportunities.
Everyone was afraid, there was no certainty. All we could do was focus on being proactive, strengthening existing relationships and forging new ones.
With everything that was going on for you, how on earth did you think of switching to produce scrubs?!?
Scrubs4Heroes was born out of recognition of the extremely challenging situation facing our frontline staff and a desire to help in any way we could.
For those of us in the leisure and luxury sectors, It is not every day that we are able to be a part of helping safeguard peoples’ lives.
I will always remember the amazing care I received after my hand was broken in a cycling accident. So when I heard about the shortages at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where I’d been treated, I called them to offer support with scrubs if any were needed, the response was clear and more requests followed, pushing us to capacity.
I then decided volunteers were needed to help us meet demand and we then created Scrubs4Heroes. I am proud to say we now have almost 200 volunteers and are burning through about 3000m of fabric per week to meet our urgent orders.
We’re intrigued! How do you actually make scrubs?
The process is very interesting and there’s lots of different design features you definitely wouldn’t think of.
Firstly, you need to find the right fabric. We discovered quickly that poly-cotton was best, as it provides a resistance to shrinkage when cleaned at higher temperatures as well as a resistance to wear/tarnish, whilst also ensuring a degree of breathability.
The next step is the creation of the garment, from a specific NHS-approved pattern. We also need to consider details relevant to practicing medicine such as colour. Colour is a lot more important that you’d think – research shows that looking at blue/green helps keep doctor’s eyes more sensitive to variations in red. So if you are a terribly busy doctor, nurse or surgeon looking at blood frequently, operating or trying to detect an infection, typically indicated by levels of redness, blue or green is invaluable to refresh colour perception
That’s amazing! How many scrubs are you making now?
Lots! The list of places we are supporting has grown significantly in recent weeks. We now have 14 NHS trusts and clinics we are working to supply, as well as six GP surgeries and just this weekend we delivered to NHS Glasgow.
We are also now supplying HM prison service with instruction packs and material to help them produce scrubs for the NHS. We think that’s pretty special – I think it would have to be the first couture house and correctional facility collaboration! So far they anticipate adding 50-100 sets of scrubs to our relief effort per week.
Congratulations on your great contribution Martin! Where to from here?
It’s hard to say. There’s a high degree of uncertainty at the moment and we’re not anticipating a flood back to the sort of events we cater for. We need to remain nimble and agile and adapt to our changed circumstances. One example of how we’re doing this currently is with our Couture-In-Situ Service where your own personal shopper comes straight to your home, hotel or office with a selection of 30 carefully styled looks. This enables us to provide the same level of couture and expertise, but within your own safe setting.
Way to go, Martin! Is there a thing or two you think can you learn from Martin’s transformation? What does it tell you about how you personally are dealing with change? And how are you currently remaining nimble and adapting to changed circumstances? Tell us in the comments below.
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Think parenthood and COVID-19 have nothing in common? Think again. Read on for 5 lessons that parenting a toddler has taught me and how these apply to emergency procurement situations.
It is pretty difficult working from home with a toddler at any time, but even more so during a lockdown.
I fell into despair last week. The pressure was on. Two phones were ringing off the hook from an emergency situation, when my toddler ripped off their pants and became the entertaining backdrop for my video call.
COVID-19 lockdown is one of those moments that will be earmarked in my time capsule. It seemed to hit at once across all fronts. Work and home life were hurled into turmoil.
But rather than spiralling into a work/life balance death spiral, I called on some of the valuable lessons I have learnt as a parent. Rather than being a distraction, they have been my secret to success in managing myself and my team through a series of emergencies bought on my the COVID-19 crisis.
COVID-19 has been impacting business both domestically and internationally for some months, requiring rapid action from commercial teams. My role is to provide support, to draft contracts, create requirements, obtain pricing and negotiate. It’s a team effort, but a mammoth amount of energy for each person involved.
Take on board these 5 simple lessons from my time dealing with emergency situations.
1. Set your pace and do so carefully
Just like parenthood, the COVID-19 pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s the adrenaline that comes with working on critical and time pressured projects makes you want to sprint. In fact you tell everyone you’re fine and can take on even more work! Foolish. This is a recipe for burnout and one I learned the hard way.
During a recent time pressured day, I drew on the parenting experience of trying to be an octopus. The dinner is about to boil over the kid comes running in with a live grasshopper and someone is knocking at the door.
I had 20 minutes to review 6 contracts and make a determination about next steps. The only thing you do in these situations is scan the most important details that you need to check and be a speedy risk mitigation machine! It pays to have your manager on stand-by to ratify your decisions.
2. It’s practical not technical
You can read all the parenting books you like, but it’s not until you have sole accountability for a human being that you really know what the job is all about!
In procurement, getting the call to undertake an emergency project can be quite unnerving. My first thoughts were to start questioning all my technical knowledge, but I needn’t have worried. Commercial acumen in practice can look like asking the obvious questions and checking the basics. It is surprising in the pace of the environment and the revolving door of personnel what is not pieced together. Back yourself to ask the tough and difficult questions no matter what your title or rank.
Questions that should be asked when delivering goods overseas at speed: what happens if the recipient country situation changes in transit? When should ownership and transfer of assets kick in? Check warranties, support and training. How useful is it if the helpdesk is in a different time zone?
3. Don’t forget the day job
Parenting is a 24/7/365 day job. It never ends. Managing a procurement team during an emergency situation is not much different. During the COVID-19 crisis, the biggest thing I’ve struggled with is providing quality leadership and management to my team. I hold myself to high standards. When I answer the call on a Sunday to work on the next emergency situation it is hard to find the time to run the day to day. Being honest with the team and sharing what I’m working on helps them to contextualise their work. Leaning on management and peers to share the management load relieves a lot of pressure for me. I had to know when to stick my hand up and utter those difficult words “I’m at capacity”.
4. Pants are optional
When emergency situations have arisen in the past, I tended to try to shoo away the other aspects of my life. This is pretty difficult to do with a toddler in my bubble in lockdown. Particularly when they have taken their discarded pants and walked into my zoom meeting with their pants on their head. This is a leveller.
It reminded me what is most important. When I started opening up about this and other life necessities like going for a walk or going to the supermarket I found a willing and supportive environment ready to cover me.
Negotiating with two suppliers for two separate but interrelated contracts with different time zones will not be done in an hour. Looming press conference announcements weigh heavily and it is easy for anxiety to set in about securing signatures quickly. I learned that my butt in the chair is not going to speed the process up any faster. I needed to go out for walks and prioritise what self-care I needed.
5. Protect your space
When you’re working from home the environments can bleed into one another. It is important to have a separate workspace that is away from other areas. For me it caused confusion about when I was working and when I was not, I defaulted to work mode and learned the hard way that I hadn’t switched off.
Working in a different space changed my habits and it caused me to make a mistake in my work. I didn’t pick up on something in a contract before it went for signing. I realised that it’s because I usually print a hard copy off first before signing.
I realised my “work self” identity needed to change during lockdown. I can’t hold myself to the same standards when the game has entirely changed – mistakes will happen when working at speed. It’s called being human.
I showed kindness to myself and it caused me to think more deeply about the others in my team. It’s taught me to be kinder and patient.
Play it forward
I’m determined to keep these lessons front of mind for the transition phase of returning to work. We’re all likely to be in limbo mode for a while and must be mindful of the ongoing impacts that the lockdown will have and how these can play out.
Kindness and compassion for yourself will invariably lead to more kindness and compassion for others. Put yourself first.
This article is solely the work of the author. Any views expressed in it are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official policy of the New Zealand government or of any government agency.
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