Category Archives: Life & Style

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.

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!