Category Archives: Life & Style

The Benefits of Balance in 2016

Balance is a hard act if you’re trying to survive and thrive in the corporate world. But balance is key to getting through your busy day – and out the other side. 
Mindfulness

Work impacts on the lives of corporate citizens more than ever before, making it difficult to find time to achieve balance.

But don’t feel bad. Corporate types need to accept that work/life balance is a myth. Instead, they should focus on finding a way to balance the constant imbalance that exists in their life, advises CEO and founder of Wellineux, Amanda McMillan. Wellineux runs corporate retreats and other programs in Australia.

Take a Minute for Yourself

“The reality is that we work in a 24/7 society now, given the proliferation of technology, so it’s about finding ways to slow down that internal busy-ness so you’re not always in that stressful feeling of flight or fight mode. This is a feeling that can eventually make us feel exhausted and worn down, meaning we’re not performing at our best or thinking clearly,” McMillan says.

The truth is that it can just take a minute or two to think about the little things that can have a positive impact on your day. Considering what could make you feel 5 per cent happier during your day is a powerful exercise, McMillan says.

“Calling someone you love on your lunch break to say hello or stopping and pausing for a few minutes during a stressful part of the day can actually contribute to making you far more effective during your work day,” she says.

Rise of Mindfulness

Given the constant corporate pressures on us all, the practice of mindfulness is starting to creep into the corporate vernacular, according to Gillian Coutts, Australian partner for organisational effectiveness program based on mindfulness, The Potential Project, and co-author of One Second Ahead.

Mindfulness is not for tree huggers or yoga practitioners, but for leading edge professionals who understand our neurological limitations and see value in the skilful introduction of mindfulness into their organisation’s culture, she says.

“While technology has been a boon in many respects, it has also meant the boundaries between the space and time of work and home have become much more blurred. Learning to cultivate balance when there are no clear boundaries is a challenge for anyone’s wellbeing, productivity and creativity.”

According to science, our mind wanders for almost half of our waking hours, which can make it difficult to get that all-important downtime in our life, she adds.

“From an evolutionary perspective, the ability to think about things that are not happening right now was a significant advantage. But in today’s complex, fast-paced, demanding work environments, it just makes us less productive and more likely to make mistakes,” Coutts says.

Applying Mindfulness

If you’re unsure if this is true, set a timer for one minute, pick a thought and try and think of nothing else until the time ends. If you find this difficult, you are completely normal in that you have a wandering mind, she says.

Mindfulness training has proven to help us with impulse control, and can help us clear a cluttered mind that has become filled with our long ‘to do’ list, and pause in a moment of busyness and make a choice about what is most important to do now, Coutts explains.

“Balance is determined by our state of mind. It’s not always easy, but learning to be mindful and present to whatever is here, now, and being able to let go of thoughts about the past or the future is a challenge for anyone’s wellbeing, productivity, and creativity.

“A growing body of scientific studies demonstrate that the mind can be trained to enhance focus. This mind is like a muscle. If you want it to be fit, fast and high-performing, we need to train it. And specifically, mindfulness training has been shown to enhance focus, so we’re better able to manage our attention.”

Remember that our brains are habitual, which makes it easy to get caught up in negative work patterns, making it difficult for organisations to change, Coutts says.

The Best-Laid Plans

To test this out for yourself, close your eyes and visualise hearing news that the leader of your organisation will be announcing major changes tomorrow. Take a moment to reflect on how this makes you feel. Are you excited to hear what’s in store, or dreading what your brain has already decided will be bad?

“Most of us spend the majority of our time thinking and behaving in habitual ways. Even if we recognise benefits of changing how we operate, our brain’s natural response is to resist. It prefers things to be done like they were done before, which can be limiting in modern-day work environments,” Coutts says.

While planning time for mindfulness is key, the best laid plans go belly-up when a client has a crisis or there’s another drama at work.

“The imbalance we experience is really determined by our state of mind. It’s not always easy, but for me, learning to be mindful and present to whatever is here now, and being able to let go of thoughts about the past or the future when necessary has been vital.”

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

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

Eat The Frog

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

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

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

Eat the Frog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meeting 101: Spend less time in Meetings

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

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

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

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

Don’t Skip Lunch

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

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

So what’s the perfect work/rest ratio?

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

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

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

Silence

Silence!!

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

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

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

Harness the Power of Habit

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

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

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

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

And Before You Go…

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

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

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

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

Why New Year’s Resolutions Suck…and What You Can Do About It!

You’re on the way to the big New Year’s Eve event at your friend’s place or public gathering and the anticipation is giving you those little jolts of pleasure and pre-party nerves…all good of course!

New-Years-Resolution

Catching up with friends, family, work colleagues or even meeting someone new and interesting, is all part of the New Year’s Eve ritual for many people.

Throw in some good food, champagne, fireworks or even the odd out of date Emergency Flare, and you’re bound to have a good night!

That’s how it goes…right? But what about some of the things that your friends, and even strangers, say to each other over the course of the night…or specifically just before the midnight countdown?

You know, those big fat audacious statements that you’ve said or heard before.

Ones like, “I’m not eating chocolate or junk food again”. Or “I’m going to lose 20 kg in weight and get into that size 12, I saw at the boutique the other day”.

You may even declare “I’m quitting the smokes, alcohol, and cutting up my credit card”. It could even be spending more time with the family and less time at work.

Have you ever heard about the “shoulds”?

You know “I should do this” or “I shouldn’t do that”?

So what happens with all these “shoulds”? Well, often they just stay like that. Most people have all the good intentions in the world, especially after a glass or two of the bubbly stuff.

Proclaiming with almost religious fervour, that there “should” is going to happen…starting tomorrow! Tomorrow comes and the realisation of you acting on your “should” becomes overwhelming, and just too damn hard.

So what do you usually do?

  1. Beat yourself up with the entire negative self talk – how you’re hopeless, you can’t carry anything through, you’re no good, blah, blah, blah. Feels great doesn’t it? Really gets your confidence right up there!
  1. Or you just say, “Well…it was a stupid idea anyway”, and just keep carrying on with those behaviours and choices you hate anyway!

Mmmm, that works…not!

What if there was a way to make those “shoulds” into “shalls”?

For example, instead of saying “I should lose the spare tire around my stomach” or “I’m dropping 3 dress sizes in the next month”, you made it a realistic goal?

Wouldn’t it be better to say “I shall tighten my belt by one or two notches” or “drop one dress size” over the next 6-12 months?

These things just don’t happen overnight. Small incremental successes work well in maintaining our motivation to stay on track and reach our targets.

“Small incremental successes work well in maintaining our motivation”

So get rid of that “I must do this right now” mentality!

For example, if your alcohol consumption is excessive, and is affecting your world, then making a commitment to reduce the amount, frequency and alcohol content will often work for most people.

You could say, “I shall have one glass of wine at night with dinner”, as opposed to your usual 3-4 glasses. You may need to vary this depending on your circumstances of course…

The “Giving Up Should” will dissipate, as you are actually working on this change effectively.

What about “I should spend more time with my family instead of always being at work”?

How would it be if you said, “I shall spend more time with my kids/partner instead of watching mindless sitcoms or whatever on TV…?

It’s about balancing what needs to happen now to get what you ultimately want.

So this New Year’s Eve, as you make your way to that big event all suited or frocked up in your finest, take a moment to reflect on your desired New Year’s Resolution.

Make it a realistic plan for small steady incremental successes and praise yourself for those small wins. You’re going to have some setbacks, guaranteed, but those can be turned into momentum to continue.

So at midnight when the champagne corks pop, revel in the knowledge that your “should” will turn into a New Years Resolution “shall do”!

Chuck out the “all or nothing mindset” – remember, slow and steady wins the race!

The Procurement Professional Twelve Days of Christmas

What do you want from your suppliers for Christmas?  12-days-of-christmas-thumb1-f

In the spirit of the season, here’s a Procurement professional’s Twelve Days of Christmas:

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my suppliers gave to me:

Twelve new-signed contracts

Eleven costs avoided

Ten tenders pending

Nine on-time deliveries

Eight service improvements

Seven ways of working

Six demand reductions

Five innovative ideas!

Four value-ads

Three free pens

Two risks assessed

And a brand new SRM strategy!

Merry Christmas!

Supply Chain Best Practice – What We Can Learn from Santa

With just over a day to go before Father Christmas needs to leave the North Pole to start his annual delivery run, we look at why Santa’s Supply Chain is the best of the lot.

Santa Claus

Frequently overlooked when it comes to the annual awards, Santa has been running his supply chain with precision and incredible efficiency for as long as we can remember. And with 2016 planning not far around the corner, there is plenty that we can learn from Saint Nick!

Communication

Communication across the supply chain is critical for success, and Santa manages to keep a two-way flow of communication both inside and outside his organisation.

Children’s letters to the North Pole are requested to arrive in time to allow for any last minute alterations to the loading list for the sleigh. In the UK, the Royal Mail help to facilitate this particular part of the supply chain, with all letters required to be mailed by the 6th of December.

Inside the organisation, in order to meet the tight deadlines and short timescales for production, Santa is sure to be in constant contact with his direct reports in order to ensure that all the products will be ready. How do we know his communication is good? Well, you never see mistakes being made, do you?

Stakeholder Management

Santa is also an expert at stakeholder management. He always know which children are on the nice list, and which are on the naughty list, and always works to ensure that his customers are satisfied with the end product.

He has clearly fostered strong relationships with the various suppliers he needs for raw materials, as they are able to keep him stocked with what he needs. Santa also works well with external agencies, such as the Royal Mail, in order to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Demand Planning

How can you manage supply vs. demand when the trends and demands are likely to change over the course of 12 months? Not only does Santa keep track of the trends, but he can also predict the overall demand for all these items and make sure he has enough of the most popular toys.

Delivery

Which other organisations can boast a record of 100 per cent success in delivering the right product, to the right person, at the right time? There are few, if any, who can rival Santa for his ability to make on time deliveries.

Logistics

Santa is a one-man logistics operation, taking on all the delivery duties himself, along with his team of trusty reindeer. His routes are clearly planned in advance to minimise the potential for getting lost and to make sure that the right deliveries go to the right house.

Additionally, all the presents are loaded in exactly the order they are to be delivered in. Without any spare time to root around in the sleigh for a missing toy, Santa’s logistics and warehousing operations must be second to none to pull this off.

Inventory

Finally, along with the demand planning, Santa is clearly a fantastic inventory planner. There is no question of holding excess stock when the trends and demands change from one year to the next, and nothing gets delivered for another twelve months.

So Santa must ensure that he has exactly what he needs before he leaves on Christmas Eve, as he knows that anything that is left over is likely to be left in stock for a year, without any planned demand for it.

Track Santa

There is a serious side to this piece. All the elements mentioned above are key to having a successful supply chain. In 2016, take a look at what you could be doing differently, and how you can make those improvements to your supply chain.

The bar is set very high, and it’s highly unlikely that any one organisations will be able to equal the record of Father Christmas.

And, if you find yourself with a bit of spare time, and you (and your children!) want to keep track of Santa’s progress around the world on Christmas Eve, check out NORAD’s tracker (now in its 60th year!) right here.

Top Tech Gifts For Christmas

Tech trends are changing…

71zy1-Fl6nL

A recent uSwitch survey suggests that the must-have tech from yesteryear is quickly falling out of fashion, with only 8 per cent of responders lusting after e-readers, and 9 per cent focused on digital cameras. With that in mind we’ve rounded-up what we deem to be the must-have gadgets for Christmas 2015.

Ten lords a-leaping on their hoverboards…

This wheely-wheely good gadget has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons during the past few months.

Commonly referred to as ‘hoverboards’, ‘balancing boards’ or, in this case, a ‘MonoRover’ – this new form of transport will have you zipping down the streets and rolling into your next appointment in record time.

This innovation in personal transportation relies on pointing your toes down to go forward, and transferring your weight to your heels to move backwards.

Prices and availability vary from country to country (as do transport laws!) so we suggest a light spot of Googling will soon have you on your way.

While shepherds watched their drones by night… DJI Phantom 3

Kids big and small have enjoyed the drone boom this year. But with technology advancing at breakneck pace, as well as decreasing costs, those tiny gnats they lost outdoors last Christmas have been replaced by bigger, tricked-out drones.

For the pilot that must have everything, the forboding DJI Phantom 3 quadcoptor comes with 4K video shooting capabilities and can be controlled via a nifty iOS or Android app. A warning though… it’s not cheap, so crashes could prove costly – $1234.99.

OnePlus 2

OnePlus: The smartphone that’s invite only

If you’re growing tired of Apple and Samsung vying for your custom every twelve months then maybe you’re brave enough to try something a little bit different?

The Chinese smartphone manufacturer OnePlus has built an affordable range of phones that dare to challenge tech’s heavy-hitters.

Three handsets have been spotted in the wild to-date (the OnePlus One, OnePlus Two and OnePlus X) and each has required a special invite to be in with a chance to purchase. If the gamble was to up desirability and exclusivity then technology commentators have all but deemed it a success.

OnePlus has recently waived invites for purchases of the OnePlus 2, and also holds weekly sales for the OnePlus X.

Prices start from £289.

3D print your presents!

As we approach 2016 3D printing no longer needs to be confined to factory floors and workshops. If you’ve always fancied yourself as a bit of a designer and the idea of turning your own 3D designs into solid, touchable objects gets your creative juices flowing then a 3D printer could be a worthwhile investment this Christmas.

Home-friendly units are arriving in their droves, some of the more popular names in the 3D printing world include M3D, MakerBot, LulzBot and CubePro – prices start around the £1000 mark and advance into their thousands for larger, more advanced printers. The only limit is your imagination (and wallet).

gopro_hero_lcd_front

No more bad Christmas TV with GoPro Hero+ 

The ideal accessory for gadget afficados and sports enthusiasts alike. If you’re looking for a camera to accompany you on the slopes the rugged Hero+ will survive all sorts of knocks and bumps, while shooting at a constant 60fps.

If you’re more comfortable taking a backseat the Hero+ can also shoot in HD video and produce 8-megapixel stills, plus you can control it from afar using the dedicated iOS and Android apps. It’s waterproof too.

From £199/$199.

(Walking in the) iPad Air 2

If you’re in the market for upgrading your iPad this Christmas, the Apple iPad Air 2 is the absolutely must have gadget.

The iPad Air 2 has squeezed a few extra mm off its predecessors already-svelte frame, while bolstering it with all the technical innovations expected of an Apple flagship product in 2015 (like the new A8X processor and Touch ID fingerprint sensor). Grab the upgrade from $399.

On the other end of the scale and for those looking to supersize their life, the iPad Pro boasts an enormous 12.9-inch screen (2732 x 2049 pixels) and brings you tantalisingly close to laptop territory. Price from $799.

Don’t run out of juice this Christmas… Portable power

If you’re planning on having a gadget heavy Christmas then you’ll be wanting to eek out as much extra life from your devices as possible.

Clocking in at the smaller end of the spectrum, the Anker PowerCore+ mini could equally be at home with your lipstick as your smartphone. With 3350mAh at full charge and compatible with a myraid of personal devices, it’s nicely affordable ($40), and available in a range of eye-catching colours too.

Apple has made its first foray into the battery case market with a smart case that charges your 6S or 6 device.

The case extends your iPhone with 25 hours-worth of talk time, or 18 hours of 4G web browsing, and will set you back £79/$99/AU$165 respetively.

band2

Work off those mince pies: Microsoft Band 2

There’s a glut of wearable fitness trackers available today but Microsoft’s follow-up to its original Band is the most recent and it looks killer to boot.

At the time of writing you’ll be hard-pressed to find a gadget (that’s not a running watch) that’s capable of incorporating both heart rate monitoring and GPS. For that reason Microsoft’s Band 2 is worth a look-in.

Rockin’ around the Christmas tree

And finally… an inexpensive stocking filler. Give the gift of music and curate your own festive playlist for family gettogethers and New Year’s celebrations.

For a limited time Spotify is offering 3 months Premium membership for just £0.99/$0.99. Sign-up using this link and enjoy unlimited, ad-free music for a full 3 months, a saving of £9.99/$9.99 per month. Couple this with the Acoustic Research Pasadena outdoor speaker and you’ll be able to entertain on the terrace or even down on the beach thanks to its 8 hour charge. It’s yours for $99.

Your Procurement Christmas Booklist

The Christmas holidays are great – plenty of time to relax, see family and relax in front of the fire with a glass of wine and a good book…

stack_of_books

If you’re like the team at Procurious HQ, you can’t get enough of procurement, supply chain and leadership related literature, then we’ve compiled a short list for you to add to your bookshelf/Kindle/eReader for the festive period:

Strat-Sourcing-IKEA

  • Strategic Sourcing and Category Management: Lessons Learned at IKEA – Magnus Carlsson
  • A Quick Guide to Procurement (for non-Procurement people) – John Bowen
  • The Procurement and Supply Manager’s Desk Reference – Fred Sollish and John Semanik

Procurement-Mojo

  • Procurement Mojo – Sigi Osagie (procurement capability)
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change – Stephen Covey (change)

Getting To Yes

  • Getting to Yes – Roger Fisher and William Ury (negotiation)
  • The Brand You 50 – Tom Peters (personal brand)
  • Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (leadership)

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 12.03.39

  • The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users – Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick
  • Music Rights Without Fights – Richard Kirstein (marketing procurement)
  • Who Moved My Cheese – Spencer Johnson (change)
  • Winning! – Clive Woodward (leadership)
  • Extreme Ownership: How Navy SEALs Lead and Win – Jocko Willink and Leif Babin (leadership)

That should be plenty to keep you occupied when you are looking to escape the mayhem or avoid another couple of hours of dodgy Christmas TV.

Let us know if we have missed your favourite and put the title in the comments below!

Happy Reading!

C3PO Teaches Us About Proper Communication

wpid-uncle-owen-c-3po-luke-skywalker-tosche-station-power-converters

Uncle Owen: “What I really need is a droid who understands the binary language of moisture vaporators.”
C-3PO: “Vaporators? Sir, my first job was programming binary load lifters very similar to your vaporators in most respects.”
Uncle Owen: “Can you speak Bocce?”
C-3PO: “Of course I can, sir. It’s like a second language to me. I’m a-”
Uncle Owen: “Yeah, alright. Shut up. I’ll take this one.”

So Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens soon (or has opened – depending on where and when you are reading this!) and following my article about change management one of the drivers (or stoppers) of change is communication.

Tony Hadley sang that communication lets us down, and in procurement it’s so true. How many of us plan our communication strategies, what we are trying to do, how are we are trying to say it, who do we actually want to speak to?

This article then is designed to give you a road map and some pointers for planning and executing your communication activities. There is a lot of advice out there on the internet, and a quick analysis of them leads me to summarise them thusly;

A simple communication plan should cover the following:

  • Who do you want to communicate with?
  • What’s the purpose/objective?
  • What is the key message?
  • How will this be delivered?
  • Who will deliver it?
  • How often will this be delivered?
  • Specific content

Who (audience)

A good place to start is to define who it is you’re trying to communicate with. Is it a person or a whole department, a key internal stakeholder or external supplier? A good piece of advice that I received was, to consider who influences this person? It may be that if we couch what we are trying to say with an analogy of the persons mentor or influencer then we may be more impactful.

For example, if the individual likes Richard Branson, we may start our messaging (see below) with an analogy of something that he did or said and how it relates to our points. This will help identify your history with this person and therefore will start to influence the overall purpose and objective

Purpose

So what is this piece of communication trying to do? Is it for information, or trying to persuade? Is it simply just to change a perception of someone about you or the whole department? Are we trying to get someone to be influential on our behalf, or are we actually trying to influence them?

Key Message

What is the overview or key message that you want to leave the person being communicated to with? By focusing on the end result we can then shape the actual message to ensure we deliver it accordingly. For example, “We want the supplier to consider us a potential strategic partner” means that the messaging and the method need to be aligned, and it’s likely to be a campaign of communication rather than a one off.

How (Delivery)

So now we come to deployment, the “nitty gritty” of communication. Face to face, telephone or email (letters anyone?)? Well it depends on what the purpose is, and importantly how the person being communicated to wants to be communicated with. Finally you need to consider the how impactful of the method.

Lots have been written about Albert Mehrabian and his study into communication. Essentially what he said was we get most of our clues of the emotional intent behind people’s words from non-verbal sources. And when the two are in conflict, we believe the non-verbal every time.

When you write an email there is no emotional intent that is being able to be read (even with emoticons), it also becomes easier to ignore. Have we ever read an email that in a way that is different than the sender intended? Emails are an essential part of our communication, as we use them all the time, but they are flat pieces of communication, if we want to become more impactful using our tone of voice, and being aligned with our body language will do this in our communication and therefore we need to plan for delivery.

Who (Delivery)

So who is the right person to deliver the key messages? Here’s a thought – does it need to be you? This is where your earlier planning will come in. We may not have access to the person we are trying to communicate with, it may be that others have an easier time to get this persons time, or alrerady have a degree of influence? (see the first who).

Suppliers use this strategy to influence decision makers when they are not readily available to be influenced directly. They identify an internal person who could be utilised as an internal brand advocate.

Frequency

How often will you need to communicate with this person? Is this a campaign or a one off? This will link back to the purpose, if we are trying to turn a detractor into a supporter, its unlikely that we accomplish this with just one meeting. Its more likely to be a concerted campaign and the messages may well change as we move them along our supportive line. On the other hand, it could be just for information only.

Mind your language

Finally it’s critical to use the language of the person to whom you are communicating with. All the planning in the world will not overcome the basics of not being understood.

Consider where the individual works, how will they be able to understand our acronyms, short cuts or techno babble?

So we need to consider changing our language and speaking theirs.

Unless of course, you really do speak Bocce…..

Happy Christmas, and may the force be with you.

Why Thanksgiving is a Happy Holiday for Business

Just in case you didn’t know, today is Thanksgiving! In honour of this holiday, we take a look at the numbers behind the day.

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It’s getting towards the end of the year, the real crunch time for businesses and supply chains as they head towards the festive period. For supply chains in America (plus all the other organisations supplying to the USA at this time of year), Thanksgiving represents an additional challenge to be accounted for at this time of year.

Looking solely at Thanksgiving itself (more on Black Friday tomorrow…), it’s clear that businesses have plenty to be in good cheer about.

Talking Turkey

It’s estimated this year that a staggering $2.8 billion will be spent this year at Thanksgiving on food alone. That’s nearly $9 for every person currently living in the USA. Over 51 million turkeys will be eaten today, around 20 per cent of the total number of turkeys raised in the USA in 2015.

These numbers go on:

  • Over 51 million turkeys will be consumed on Thanksgiving
  • This equates to around 20 per cent of the total number of turkeys raised in the USA in 2015
  • The average cost of a family Thanksgiving dinner is over $50 for the first time ever
  • The average cost of a single turkey has increased by $1.39, to $23.04 (a 6.4 per cent rise from 2014)

Travel Woes

Businesses and supply chains will be ready far in advance of this week, with all the required stock already at its final destination, ready to be picked up by consumers. And this is just as well, given the increased level of traffic on the roads:

Even although most Americans say that Thanksgiving is the worst time of year to be travelling, 46.9 million of them will be travelling for the holiday. And, due to falling petrol prices, 42 million will be driving. In 2014, the average length of trip was a 549 mile round-trip.

Tradition vs. Today

Thanksgiving has come a long way since the first celebration, held by the founders of the Plymouth Colony, back in 1621. In nearly 400 years of celebration, just about the only thing left of “tradition” is the turkey. Check out this great infographic from History.com to see the changes:

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All that is left to do is to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving from the Procurious team!

IQ, EQ, DQ or SMQ – Which Quotient Leads to Success at Work?

We’ve all sat tests at school, whether exams to achieve qualifications, or internal tests to determine which classes we should be in.

IQ or EQ

These tests, although we didn’t know it at the time, were a way of testing our IQ. However, this is a hugely simplified way of assessing a concept that is inherently complex in nature.

Some people excel academically, while others go on to great things, even although they don’t necessarily have any academic qualifications (think Richard Branson). Whether this is down to IQ, or EQ, no-one can be 100 per cent sure, but it’s worth looking at in more detail.

IQ – How ‘smart’ are you?

For those of you that don’t know, your IQ (intelligence quotient) is derived from a series of standardised tests that designed to determine how ‘intelligent’ you are (or aren’t).

For years, IQ was used by schools and businesses to determine how smart someone was. The first application of the test was delivered in 1905 by Alfred Binet to assess the intelligence of French school children.

In the 1980’s however, it was decided that this examination method was too narrow and wasn’t painting a fair picture of how an individual would perform in real life.

Smart isn’t everything

People had realised that being smart didn’t necessarily mean you’d be good at your job. There are other things to take into account, for example, how you work in a team or group environment. So the EQ (emotional quotient) measure was developed.

This test was designed to evaluate a person’s emotions (a fairly loft ambition), to understand how the person thinks rather than what they know and to determine how they might act in certain situations.

This area of psychology is fascinating, particularly the way that people are scored or compartmentalised in order to predict their performance. Given the response to the recent discussion topic on the Myers-Briggs scale it seems this is quite a widely held view.

Social Media Quotient

More recently, it has been interesting to read about the social media quotient (SMQ), and the role that it might play in an individual’s effectiveness at work. While it is far less developed and tested than EQ and IQ, SMQ is likely to play a critical role in evaluating individual performance at work over the coming years.

Social media is already an important part of our professional lives and it’s relevance is only going to increase. How people understand and interpret this space will impact their effectiveness at work. The good news is that it’s much easier improve your SMQ than it is to improve your IQ or EQ. It really just takes a little bit of effort on your part.

Get to know the different social media tools that are out there, what the best way to apply them professionally is and you’re already off a great start. There is a quiz here that can help to determine your current SMQ and a more rudimentary checklist here.

If this topic interests you, you could consider reading about digital quotient as well. Digital Quotient, was developed by McKinsey as a way to evaluate an organisation’s (rather than a person’s) digital capability, including their areas of strength and weakness. You can find more information on this here.

Good luck developing your SQM! If you need any help, want to organise a workshop, or use Procurious’ brand new social media “PRISM” tool, just get in touch!