Category Archives: Life & Style

Why It’s Critical to Keep Your Skills Up to Date

Technological change is disrupting every industry and profession around the world, and obliging professionals to ensure their skills are up to date.

Keep your skills up to date

In recent weeks, Procurious has published a number of articles on personal development, training and up-skilling. The idea of keeping skills up to to date, and making time for learning and development, are applicable not only in procurement, but also to virtually every profession in every country.

However, this is not to say that all the onus is on the individuals to take responsibility for their development. It’s important also for organisations to ensure that resources are made available to allow employees the opportunity to take advantage of the training that is available.

AT&T – Remaining Competitive

AT&T is a US-based telecommunications company, currently owned and operated by SBC Communications. In the USA, the company is the second largest provider of mobile phone services, and the largest provider of fixed phone services. The company also provides broadband services.

The rapid pace of technological change in the telecommunications industry has left AT&T vying to remain competitive against larger technology organisations, such as Google and Amazon. Part of the strategy for remaining competitive in this industry is ensuring that employees’ skills are up to date.

It was estimated that approximately 280,000 employees need to update, or learn, coding skills, something that the organisation is supporting through the provision of eLearning. The company will reimburse around $8,000 (USD) per year per employee for this training, although this will still mean employees are funding some of the training themselves.

Up-skill. Or else…

While this may sound like the organisation is being supportive of employees’ efforts to ensure they have the skills they require to perform their job, there is something of a darker undertone. In essence, AT&T are forcing their employees to learn these skills, or find that their career choices are “very limited”.

CEO, Randall Stephenson, has been quoted as saying people who do not spend 5 to 10 hours per week in online learning will “obsolete themselves with the technology”. The time commitment involved means that many employees are now working evenings and weekends, on top of their day jobs, just to keep up to date.

The company also plans, eventually, to include personal development and learning as part of performance reviews too. This will be based on what people have studied, how well they did, and whether they are willing to keep learning.

The Right Reasons

It would be easy to point the finger at AT&T and say that they are being unfair. That they shouldn’t be forcing employees to learn skills, or essentially be out of a job. However, there are many organisations who do not offer the support that AT&T are giving their employees.

Yes, employees own time and money are required in order to keep pace, but if these employees don’t have the same skills as those at competitor organisations, then the chances are good that AT&T will cease to exist, and those employees will be looking for new jobs in an ultra-competitive job market.

It is also not to say that AT&T are leaving their employees to fend for themselves. The company has a programme called “Vision 2020”. It combines online and classroom-based work in subjects like digital networking and data science, but also looks at old skills that can be transferred to new careers.

AT&T management want to ensure that the company has a future, and the employees have got on board with this, and are actively working to make sure that they have the necessary skills to do so.

Stay ahead of the personal development game by making use of all the eLearning resources at your disposal. Check out the Learning Hub on Procurious for over 80 free video and audio resources, from learning about procurement, to learning from the experts.

Social Media Fever Is The New Man Flu

Fret Not! Doctor Procurious is here to cure your social media fever!

Social Media Clinic

Social media has become a vital tool in both our personal and business lives. Conquering social media platforms can be difficult without the right knowledge and help.  Procurious is running a social media clinic at the eWorld Procurement & Supply conference in London on 2 March. The clinic will cover the following social media areas to give you the best tips and tricks of the trade.

Get noticed: Create Your Powerful Profile

  • Detailed Profile is Strong
  • Proof Read
  • Customise Your URL Profile
  • Have the right profile picture
  • Be part of the correct groups
  • Be aware of LinkedIn Applications
  • Bonus Tips and more on Procurious

Stay In Touch: Supercharge Your Market intelligence

  • Mastering Google Alerts  
  • Wonders of the Google Drive
  • Streamline content with Feedly
  • Must have marketing tools of 2016

Twitter 101: A Beginner’s Guide

  • Getting started – key terms and definitions of Twitter
  • Setting up an account – building the right Twitter profile
  • The Basics – Top tips and tricks
  • Using hashtags – what is ‘trending’?
  • Following Twitter influencers – information gathering

eLearning: Revolutionise Your Professional Development

  • Picking the right platform(s) for you
  • Podcasts and TED Talks – Introducing users to Soundcloud
  • Bite-sized Learning videos
  • Peer to Peer Networking
  • Fitting learning into your routine

Simplify: Make Social Media Work For You

  • Selecting the right platform for you
  • Why time doesn’t have to be a limiting factor
  • Introducing social media tools – Buffer; Hootsuite
  • Scheduling posts – when and where to do it; ensuring your posts make sense on all platforms
Procurious at eWorld
Social Media Fever…Get Cured with Procurious!

Don’t google your symptoms, fight them with Procurious. Come see us at eWorld Procurement & Supply conference!

The Ultimate Stress Busting Tip for Procurement Pros

Workplace stress getting the better of you? You need the ultimate stress busting tip to help level out, settle your jangling nerves and combustible temper.

Workplace Stress

Does this sound like your day? High pressure deadlines, the constant juggling of priorities, demanding customers and suppliers, and the never ending dramas of your employees or colleagues!

Do you ever get yourself so worked up that you become short tempered, irritable, and go home exhausted and not ‘available’ for your partner, kids or friends?

Do you dislike what’s happening to you? Well, it’s called Workplace Stress, and you have some control over how your body reacts to it.

What do I do?

Have you ever drawn a breath – I’m sure you have. But have you done it to slow yourself down? You know, when your heart is racing, your muscles tighten up, and your stomach is contracting or about to bring lunch up?!

What about when your teeth start to grind and your head feels like it’s about to explode like a bag of overcooked microwave popcorn bag? Then I guess you know all about anxiety!

These feelings and responses were developed in us over thousands of evolutionary years. We needed to have these responses to enable us to be wary of really scary things that wanted to  eat us!

When our brain interprets danger, adrenaline and cortisol go nuts in our bodies to help us to run away or fight the danger. It’s known today as the Fight, Flight or Freeze response. Check out our infographic below:

Stress Busting Tip

But where are the Sabre-Tooth Tiger and T-Rex when you’re in a procurement negotiation, or dealing with difficult clients or team members?

All this stress is in our head, and our mind being such a powerful machine makes these fears real…well sort of!

So What’s the Stress Buster Tip, O Great Wise One?   

Breathe. Yes, that’s it. But let me explain all the really technical moves:

Slowly breathe in through your nose, filling your lungs up with the good stuff called air. Breathe as deeply as you can, hold your breath for 2-3 seconds, and then slowly breathe out through pursed lips.

Then repeat the performance for 2, 5 or 10 plus minutes periodically throughout the day.

Stress Busting Tip - Breathe

As Easy as That!

So, go and sit somewhere comfortably and close your eyes. If you’re self-conscious, go somewhere private, or close your office door.

Of course it’s not advisable to do this when driving a forklift! And, for those of you who have smoked a pack a day for the last 20 years, you will need to adjust the tempo accordingly.

Keep at it. When you have mastered this you can add some ‘fancy thinking’ techniques to help you really sort this stuff out, but that’s for another article.

So give it a go, what have you got to lose, apart from maybe lots of stress!

To view this as a video click here.

Is There a Case for a Leap Year Public Holiday?

It’s a leap year this year, meaning that on the 29th of February we have a whole extra 24 hours available to us.

Leap Year Day

However, looking at it in a different way, as the extra day this year falls on a Monday, work gets an extra day from all of us. For salaried workers this pretty much means employers are getting an extra 8-10 hours for free. According to some calculations, this means workers lose out on around £113 on average.

Now, before you all run off and demand either a day off or an additional day’s pay from your employer, we should examine if there is a case for an additional, global public holiday.

What is a Leap Year?

Just by way of context, a leap year occurs once every four years. An additional day is added to the end of February in order to ensure that our clocks and calendars remain in sync with Earth’s seasons.

Scientifically speaking, the Earth takes exactly 365.2422 days to complete its orbit of the sun. However, the Gregorian calendar only runs to 365 days. These additional quarter days are added together, and, once every four years, a leap year occurs.

Due to the rarity or novelty of the 29th of February, a variety of ‘traditions’ have come into being during leap years. One of the most famous is that a woman can propose marriage to a man at any time during the year. Tradition also dictates that, should a man turn down the proposal, he needs to pay a fine. This can be anything, but around the world it ranges from 12 pairs of gloves (Denmark), to fabric for a skirt (Finland).

Additional Public Holidays

There is precedent around the world for the creation of an additional public holiday. The most famous in recent years was the UK public holiday for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. It was estimated that the holiday brought an additional £500 million into the UK retail sector, with another estimated £2 billion boost from tourism.

However, not all the economic stories from the day were positive. There were concerns at the time that the additional holiday was bad for the economy, which was still recovering from the financial crisis at the time. Leading economists had predicted that the proximity of the wedding to the Easter weekend would reduce growth by between 0.1 and 0.2 per cent.

In Australia, the Victorian Government is facing additional costs of AUD $405 million (£200 million; US $287 million) through the addition of two new public holidays to the calendar. Even factoring in economic benefits such as increased shopping, travel, and complimentary spending, PwC have stated that the costs will ultimately outweigh any benefits.

Bank Holiday Mondays

When compared to the rest of the world, the UK actually has fewer bank and public holidays (a total of 8) than many other countries. In Japan, the total is 15, in Spain, it’s 14 and there are 11 in China. But there is still hesitance, from both the UK Government and business leaders, to increase this number.

Recent figures from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) might go some way to explaining why. The CEBR estimates that each bank holiday in the UK actually costs the economy in the region of £2.3 billion. There is also the argument that the close proximity in the calendar of bank holidays can have an impact on businesses.

The accuracy of these figures could be debated, as it has also been argued that any loss of growth due to holidays is recovered later in the year. There is also the argument that by spreading the holidays out, the overall cost to the economy may actually drop.

There are also many positive trends for businesses see around the Easter weekend. Many people will use the weekend to start their annual DIY attempts in the better weather. In fact, it is estimated that 15 per cent of businesses see a positive result from bank holidays.

So, the 29th of February…

The truth is, no-one is entirely sure whether or not bank holidays are good or bad overall for the economy. This also goes for the argument for the UK having more bank holidays, including the potential for a leap year one.

The goodwill impact of an extra day off is hard to measure, particularly if employees return to work refreshed and ready to work hard. Plus, as the 29th of February only appears once every four years, surely it couldn’t have too great an impact.

For the time being, we’ll just have to content ourselves with what we have. But if you’re really desperate for a leap year holiday, you could always sign this petition

The Struggle Was Real For Social Media – Let’s Not Swipe Left

As social media has evolved, it has permeated all aspects of day to day life. However, during this evolution, a number of fears have arisen around the use of these platforms.

Social Media Icons

Computers in the early 20th century were the size of a room and the Internet was just a set of protocols for internet working.

Fast forward to the early 90s and the size of computers had decreased, and high speed internet was introduced.

By the late 90s, the internet was starting to impact culture and commerce, including the rise of email communication, two way interactive video calls and the World Wide Web.

Social Networking Services

The concept of Social Networking Services (SNS) emerged from the internet, and became defined as a platform to build social networks or social relations among people who have similar interests, activities, backgrounds or real-life connections.

Early forms of SNS included websites which allowed you to build your own online communities.

Twenty years ago social media began to make its mark by connecting users globally. Then, in 2004, the concept of a social networking service further evolved with the innovation of key platforms such as Myspace, LinkedIn and Facebook. New platforms were developing at a rapid rate and became known as social media technologies.

These take on many different forms including blogs, business networks, enterprise social networks, forums, microblogs, photo sharing, products/services review, social bookmarking, social gaming, social networks, video sharing, and virtual worlds.

Social Media and the Smartphone Revolution

The innovation of smartphone technology has recently been a catalyst for increasing the power of social media. There is a strong correlation between the increase of social media usage and the innovation of mobile technology.

Mobile devices are now more affordable than ever, and wireless networks ensure they are faster and almost ubiquitous.

Slide006

In 2015, there were 3.649 billion unique mobile users and 1.685 billion people actively using social media on their mobile. There are 1.79 billion social network users globally.

Facebook alone had 1.55 billion users and LinkedIn has over 347 million registered members. Over a third of the world’s population have an active social media account.  

Misconceptions and Fears

Social media is growing, changing and evolving at a rapid rate. Unsurprisingly, misconceptions have arisen which can scare companies and individuals away from actively engaging with social media channels. These may include the concern that:

  • All channels and platforms need to be used, not just one or a select few.
  • It’s “for the kids.”
  • Managing your company’s accounts requires you to hire someone.
  • Social media completely removes the need for traditional channels.

These misconceptions have created barriers which have influenced and hindered the user’s experience and overall willingness to actively participate.

To investigate this further, Procurious, together with the eWorld Procurement and Supply conference, is launching a survey which aims to establish ‘What frightens you about social media’?

The survey examines what factors influence our practices, the fears that come into play when using social platforms, and if individuals notice the lack of their own social media presence.

The survey will only take a few minutes to complete, and by completing it, you can help us understand what people need to know in order to dispel these rising fears and misconceptions.

Social media has become a critical part of our social fabric. These sites are where we go to interact with people, inform ourselves and most importantly, to aid our businesses.

By understanding the barriers to full social media use, we can help to make sure everyone can get involved.

Click Here to Complete the survey: ‘What frightens you about social media’?

Why the NFL in London is Really a Supply Chain Problem

Those of you who follow American sports will be aware that after a 21 year hiatus, Los Angeles is getting a National Football League (NFL) team back.

NFL

After the two franchises that were in the greater LA area – the Raiders (now in Oakland, California), and the Rams (who moved to St. Louis, Missouri) – left, there was yearly speculation about which team might move back to LA.

During that time both Cleveland and Houston were awarded franchises while Los Angeles waited. With LA now back in the NFL’s orbit, the league has designs on expanding internationally, specifically to London. These moves began in 2007, starting with one game at Wembley Stadium, with three games played there this season.

The NFL also announced additional games would be played in London through to 2020, and including games at Twickenham Stadium beginning in 2016.

International Expansion

The most obvious international expansion destination for the NFL would seem to be Canada or Mexico, but the reality is that, although games have been played in both countries, neither is equipped to handle an NFL franchise.

Mexico simply does not have the infrastructure or stadia, and though Canada does not have infrastructure concerns, it does have a stadium issue as well. The only stadium that could support an NFL team is Rogers Centre in Toronto, where baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays play, but it would not be considered a premier stadium for the NFL.

While London has an incredible draw to continue the growth of the NFL, there are a number of issues that make moving a team across the Atlantic potentially preclusive. After an analysis of a number of these factors, this is really just a very big supply chain problem:

  • Raw Materials

Effectively the raw material inputs to a sports team are its players and coaching staff. The supply chain issue here is how to get the raw materials to where they need to be processed into the final product. Well over ninety per cent of the players and coaches in the NFL are American, and there may be significant resistance to move to the UK especially if they have families.

There is also the issue of the NFL salary cap, and the cost of living and tax rate in the UK. Given what it would likely take to pay player to live and play in London, either the NFL would have to make their salary cap more flexible, or work with the UK government on a variance to current tax laws.

  • Inventory/Time to Market

This factor is related to the raw materials section, but is an issue that is unique to the NFL and how teams operate. Most teams operate on what is really a ‘Just-in-Time’ inventory model, with very limited stock. Stock constitutes a ten-man practice squad roster, in which teams can develop future players. This is the only inventory the team carries along with its 53 man active roster during the season.

With football being a sport in which injuries occur regularly and the pressures to win are high, teams actively manage their roster throughout the season. On Tuesdays during the season, teams will bring in free agent players for try-outs to determine if they want to sign them to their rosters to replace an injured or underperforming player.

This set-up will be complicated by having to travel to London for a try-out. One solution is for the London-based team to have a US-based facility to accommodate these try-outs. While this solves the travel issue, it has the side effect of increasing costs.

  • Distribution Costs

With a permanent franchise in London, all 32 NFL teams would be impacted to some extent by an increased cost of doing business, specifically with regards to travel costs (the NFL’s equivalent to distribution of its product) to and from London.

This would have particularly high impacts for for games that would otherwise be played on the American West Coast. Under the current NFL scheduling model, each year the London-based team would have to play one game per year on the American West Coast, and potentially at least two games there once every three years. One solution would be to base the team on the West Coast for back-to-back weeks, further increasing travel costs.

  • International Factors

As with all firms that operating internationally, the NFL would have to deal with a new set of laws and regulations that may be in direct conflict with the laws of their native country.

This biggest factor would be with regards to the players’ union, the NFL Players Association (or NFLPA). The players are organised as a union and the NFL and NFLPA collectively bargain the work arrangement under which both sides operate. This collective bargaining agreement covers a myriad of issues from roster sizes to player discipline, to player’s salaries.

Consideration would have to be taken to determine if such an agreement is even enforceable under UK law and, if not, how to be compliant under UK law.

Another factor would be operating with two different currencies, and the potential fluctuations in value. Weakness in the Canadian dollar was a significant factor in professional franchises in Vancouver and Montreal (basketball and baseball, respectively) moving to the United States.

The good news is that the British Pound and the US Dollar have been relatively stable against each other for the past decade, and are widely considered the most stable currencies in the world.

Think Like a Supply Chain

The NFL wants to go to London (in fact in a recent BBC interview a senior NFL executive said they would like to be in London by 2022) and judging by the fan interest in the handful of games played there each year, Londoners want the NFL.

While the challenges above will be difficult to overcome, thinking like a supply chain professional to help solve this challenge will be incumbent if the NFL wants to fully access the London market.

7 Reasons Why Procurement is the Perfect Valentine

Don’t be shy, you can finally admit it. You’ve always thought that procurement is the perfect Valentine for your organisation.

Valentine

It’s that time of year again.  The shops are full of hearts and flowers and we’re all encouraged to share the love.  But, in these times of increased pressure to deliver, reduce costs and improve outcomes, who really should be an organisation’s secret love, their special Valentine?

Well, I’ve got news for you.  Procurement is your perfect match and here are seven reasons why.

  1. We Can Show You a New Angle on Things

Getting procurement involved in sourcing your requirement can give you a whole new perspective on the process. We’ll challenge your specification, make you think about new developments in the market and, more often than not, get you a better price.  We’ll even bring things like ethical sourcing and sustainability into the mix and really broaden your horizons.

  1. We Love You Regardless of Your Flaws

We don’t mind if you come with an input specification when you really should be focusing on outputs. We’ll forgive you if you’ve already chosen something without going through the correct sourcing process. We’ll even turn a blind eye if you’ve indulged in a bit of maverick spend in your past. After all you wouldn’t be the first to have strayed down that path.

  1. We’ll Put Your Needs Ahead of Our Own

Procurement is all about your needs and the needs of the business.  While you may think all we care about are our metrics, nothing could be further from the truth. We’ve designed our procurement processes so that we can do everything in our power to deliver the outcomes that you need.

  1. We Believe Life is Better With You, Rather Than Without You

It’s easy to think that those of us in procurement would rather just get on and source things, and that we’ll manage suppliers without input from those of you on the front line. However, we know from experience that your input and involvement makes things better. We couldn’t just bear to think of sourcing things without you.

  1. We’re Willing to Lose an Argument

In many conversations we have with you about sourcing, we know we’re right, and you’re wrong. But we’re so focused on your needs that, if you really must have a particular supplier or a certain product, and there’s a way we can source it without breaking the law or company rules, we’ll come up with a procurement strategy to help you achieve that aim.

  1. We’re Incredibly Loyal

Because we spend so much time with suppliers it would be easy for you to think they might lead us astray.  But there’s no need to worry – our integrity won’t falter. We want the same things as you, so we’ll be true to the flag and the organisation’s goals. We won’t use processes that are corrupt. Transparency is our middle name. You know you can trust us no matter what.

  1. Our Sex Appeal is Second to None

I must warn you that once you’ve got involved with us in procurement you’re bound to be hooked.  After all there’s something alluring about being listened to and having your needs met. Top that with a large dose of innovation, ethical sourcing and a gold star from the management for your achievement of company aims, and you’ll be coming back for more.

Working with us could just be the most excitement you’ve had in years. After all you don’t get that sort of feeling from working with colleagues in Accounts now do you?!

So, when you’re pondering your choice of Valentine this year,  remember us in Procurement – your ideal secret love.

Working in a Freezer, Living in an Oven!

4 cool tips for managers to help their staff when working in a freezer and living in an oven.

Hot_road_mirage

In the real world, extremely cold climates are usually separated from very hot climates by a very long car drive, or a flight in a cramped seat with a budget airline.

However, in the world of working in the refrigerated or cold chain industry here in Australia, the two climates are separated by only a couple of very expensive doorways.

To watch video version click here.

Body Shock

Remember the body shock when you left a Melbourne winter and stepped out the plane and onto the tarmac at Bali’s Denpasar airport?

Well, it’s the same, except you’ve just finished your shift in a huge sub-zero fridge, and now you’re walking to your car on a 38 degree day, and the inside of the car is topping 55 degrees which could cook an egg on your dashboard!

You know this is hard on your body – you can feel it!

So it’s smart to take precautions to make the transition from the arctic cold to the desert heat!

  1. Take Proper Precautions INDOORS.

Being able to safely re enter the outdoors starts with taking proper care of yourself when you are indoors. Take care to protect extremities like hands, ears, head, and feet. Move around frequently because circulation is slowed in extremely cold temperatures.

If you’re glued to a forklift most of the day, do what the paraplegic Olympians do in their wheelchairs – wiggle often! Lift your butt of the seat often and get that blood circulating.

When able get off your machine and stretch even if it’s only for a few seconds- your back will love you…remember you’re got a long life ahead of you.

  1. Layers, Layers, Layers 

Not only do layers of clothing help keep you warm, they also make it easier for you to gradually remove layers as your body begins to warm up.

  1. Stay Hydrated 

We tend to think of the need to hydrate only in hot temperatures, but your body actually needs extra fluids in both the extreme cold and the heat. There are lots of little “thermos” like drink containers that can keep drinks warm and can fit into your pocket or storage tray in the forklift.

Drink cooler as you go back outdoors. Your body will better be able to absorb cool, as opposed to cold fluids, so resist the urge to down an ice packed beverage immediately upon going back into the heat.

  1. Slow and Steady 

After being in frigid temps for hours, it can be tempting to rush out into the warmth of the sun and “get some rays“. However a fast switch from hold to hot can “freak out” the body, especially if you are prone to low blood pressure.

Fainting in the carpark is not very glamorous! Instead, spend some time in a climate controlled room (maybe it’s the locker room or staff room) to allow your body to slowly warm up before being shocked by the baking heat of the outdoors.

Stay cool!

How e-Learning Is Changing the Face of Professional Development

From online video, to communities of learning and peer to peer networking, you’ll find a learning method most comfortable to you.

eLearning-Interactivity-Guide-eLearning-Professionals
Learning is no longer something reserved for the young, With career progression never far from our minds and competition for roles at an all-time high, now is the time to suss out the tools we need to to better ourselves.

Buoyed by John Green’s fascinating TED Talk – ‘The nerd’s guide to learning everything online’, we set out on a mission to locate the web’s best learning aids. Be it through online videos, podcasts, social media, or likeminded communities, the majority of the learning resources you’ll discover are available to access from anywhere at any time. Plus the majority of e-Learning is either free or cost effective, so you don’t need to worry about splashing the cash.

The Internet is a great place to sharpen your skills and expand your horizons (if you know the right places to look). Whether you’re putting aside as little as five minutes, squeezing in some time between meetings, or want a more productive commute – learning doesn’t have to be hard work, when applied correctly it can even be fun.

Bite-size training videos

One of the most diverse e-Learning platforms on the web is Lynda.com – itself a LinkedIn company. Unlike some of the more procurement-focused examples in our list, the teaching straddles design, development, photography, video, audio, 3D and business categories – truly something for everyone!

Whether you decide to train individually or as part of a group, Lynda.com lets you set the pace, plus it lets you practice with samples and files provided by the instructor themselves. If you’re looking for something with less of a technical focus then perhaps you’ll consider Khan Academy? The online learning takes in subjects including math, art, history, science, medicine, finance and more.

Procurious also has a number of training videos from experts around the world on a number of subjects, including negotiation, SRM and risk. Happily you’ll find that all are currently available completely free of charge.

TED Talks

TED started life as a set of conferences and fundamentally designed to share ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’. Since its inception it has gone on to spawn TED Talks and smaller, locally-run TEDx events – to-date you can access an archive of 2100 videos on the official website.

With such a large global footprint you can find a TED Talk on just about any subject, but we’ve chosen to highlight Simon Sinek’s inspirational “Start With Why” as an example of the platform at its best.

The beauty of TED videos also lies in their relatively short running time too, with each clocking in at around the 18 minute mark. Brevity is key to their effectiveness – its curator Chris Anderson explained this is long enough to be serious and short enough to hold attention. It turns out that this length also works incredibly well online as it’s also the length of a typical coffee break.

If you haven’t already, be sure to digest our videos from our very own, self-styled TED Talks at the Big Ideas Summit and hear from some of the most influential voices in procurement.

ispace

Soundcloud and podcasts

You’d be forgiven for thinking e-Learning is all about video. Audio is also a very effective medium in its own right and in many ways considered even more versatile. It doesn’t matter whether you pop in your earphones on a commute home, or listen to it during a car journey, unlike video you’re not tied to a screen.

One of the most popular audio networks for learning is Soundcloud. A search for ‘procurement’ on the platform returns a selection of over 300 podcasts (from 75 procurement accounts), spanning countries all around the world.

Soundcloud is easy to access via the web or using an app on your smartphone, so recordings are easy to listen to on the go as part of your personal development.

Peer to peer networking

The need for peer to peer networking was highlighted at Procurious’ very own Big Ideas Forum back in April last year. Whether it be through discussions on LinkedIn, Tweets exchanged on Twitter, discussion between members of The Faculty’s CPO Forum, or right here on Procurious. It doesn’t matter which level you’re at in your professional development, being able to utilise such networks as potential learning environments is a great habit to get into.

With the advent of the Internet learning communities have been made a reality. Through peer to peer networks you are able to learn, problem solve and benefit from the experience of others. One of the biggest examples is Rio Tinto’s learning academy – launched in 2014, the platform offers its 35,000-strong workforce learning materials and training modules at a pace chosen by the individual.

Such initiatives are slowly putting an end to soul-destroying, organisation-wide orientation days and sessions. The upshot? Freeing-up more time for employees to get on with their jobs, while leaving personal development to their own time.

At this juncture we’d also like to remind you that Procurious isn’t just a place to learn! Don’t forget to utilise the online network of procurement professionals we’re gathering right here in our community.

Has your organisation got something to offer?

Alternatively if you (or your company) wants to jump onto the e-Learning bandwagon there are plenty of variety when it comes to choosing a software package/learning platform to create your own learning resources.

Adobe Captivate 9
Oracle Taleo
Brightspace
Articulate Storyline 2
iSpring

Braving the Cross-Cultural Humour Divide

Humour can help to diffuse tension, break the ice or create camaraderie. However, frequently humour can get lost in translation when crossing the cultural divide.

Stand-Up-Comedy

After Christmas I enjoyed a short holiday on the Great Ocean Road, Victoria with my family. As we were enjoying a walk along one of the many beaches I couldn’t help but overhear a largely Asian tour group meandering along the beach close by.

I overheard the tour guide tell a joke. To me the joke sounded quite amusing, but judging by the immediate reaction (or rather lack of) of his tour group, not many other people did! Aside from a few polite giggles there was mostly silence and looks of confusion. My immediate thought was that people probably didn’t understand the joke. Maybe there were language and accent difficulties, humour differences, etc.

Cross-Cultural Challenges

Humour across cultures is very difficult. Aside from the lack of a shared background, there are many subtle nuances, common phrases and local references in humour and joke telling that can very easily fall flat when told to foreigners.

When we engage in humour, we unconsciously make assumptions that our audience/s are similar to ourselves and will therefore receive the humour in a manner that we intend it to be heard.

There is no doubt that communicating humour is one of the most difficult cross-cultural communication challenges that exists. In countries such as Japan, humour rarely crosses hierarchical borders and wouldn’t be appropriate in formal contexts; in other cultures such as Australia, humour can be appropriate in these settings and viewed as a means of reducing tension and balancing power inequities.

Humour Tips

So how do we know if our humour will be received as funny, misunderstood or offensive in the context of no shared knowledge and background with our audience? Here are some basic guidelines:

  • It is essential that you have a high level of cultural and language awareness, sensitivity and understanding
  • As a general guide, I recommend avoiding sarcasm and jokes, rather wit and self-deprecation can often be safer options
  • Observe others – how they deliver and receive humour. Take note of the context, seniority, facial expressions, body language, etc.

I often remind my expat coaching clients that when they find themselves understanding local humour and sharing in it, they are well on their way to true cultural immersion.

Although there are cultural barriers to the shared understanding of humour, keep in mind that even within our own cultures what is considered funny and not funny vary enormously. I admired the tour guide I mentioned earlier because although his joke may not have received many laughs, he was brave enough to have a go. I would guess that he probably had some insight that the content couldn’t be offensive and was making a genuine attempt to create a relaxed, light-hearted environment for the group.

While we need to be cautious when using humour in cross-cultural settings, I urge you to not be too discouraged because humour can be a great way to build relationships and begin to really understand your cross-border colleagues and clients.