Category Archives: Trending

Easter Procurement – How Do They Make Yours?

They have been a staple in the Easter diet for many children (and adults too!) for decades. But just how do Cadbury make the Creme Eggs we enjoy so much?


As hard as it might be to believe but the humble Cadbury’s Creme Egg has been an Easter staple since its launch nearly half a century ago. Global sales of the eggs are over 500 million per year, with the UK alone accounting for approximately 200 million per year (that’s around 3 each per year in the UK), with the majority of these manufactured in Birmingham, UK.

The Creme Egg brand has a value in itself of £55 million, which certainly isn’t bad for a confectionary item that’s only available between January and Easter each year.

Like them or loathe them, Easter just wouldn’t be the same without the instantly recognisable purple, red and yellow packaging (or green, blue, red and yellow if you happen to live in the USA). It’s no small feat to produce the volume of eggs to satisfy global demand, at such a specific time of year to take full advantage of the condensed sales period.

Before we delve into the supply chain and production process, some facts about this famous egg…

All Gone a Bit Egg Shaped – Fun Facts!

In fact, all Cadbury-manufactured chocolate is banned in the USA, Creme Eggs amongst them. The Hershey Company has the rights to manufacture all Cadbury chocolate in the USA and the move was to limit competition with imported items.

This is down to the recipes being altered slightly to adjust to different tastes, as well as to account for some ingredients that are banned in certain countries.

More on this below, but let’s just say that it did not go well…

Not only are the Eggs themselves shrinking thanks to ‘shrinkflation’, but in 2015 the multipacks dropped from six to five eggs. But that probably helps with the next fact…

  • They are really unhealthy (but you knew that and it doesn’t really matter anyway).

Each egg contains around the same volume of sugar as two bowls of really sugary cereal. And at around 6 teaspoons of sugar, it’s what the American Heart Association considers to be a full day’s worth of sugar.

Raw Materials

The Creme Egg that we buy and eat today has been in production since its introduction in 1963. It’s recipe has been the same since this time, using the same key ingredients. There was a brief period in 2015 when Mondelez, who currently own Cadbury, and Kraft, their parent company, changed the recipe. This involved changing the use of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate for the egg’s shell to a cheaper, cocoa-based shell.

And much like the ill-fated New Coke recipe, the outcry was much the same. After much protest the recipe was changed back, but not before the organisation had seen a loss in sales estimated at £6 million in 2015. FYI, for those of you outside the UK, don’t get a Brit started on what their feelings are on Cadbury’s chocolate in general since the firm was taken over by Schweppes and then Mondelez!

The key ingredients we’re looking at here are, of course, cocoa and, in Cadbury’s own words, “a glass and a half of milk in each bar”. The majority of the milk in the UK, over 50%, is supplied by dairy farm co-operative, Selkley Vale farmers, from Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.

The cocoa is a bit more complicated and, in the past, a lot more controversial. As with most chocolate manufacturers, Cadbury sources its chocolate from countries with high volumes of cocoa production – Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Indonesia, the Dominican Republic, India and Brazil. Previously fully affiliated with Fairtrade, Cadbury drew criticism  of practices and its supply chain when it dropped this in 2016 in favour of a new scheme, Cocoa Life.

The scheme, which is, as of 2019 working in close partnership with Fairtrade, aims to use over $400 million to aid 200,000 cocoa farmers worldwide. Not only will this mean that more Cadbury chocolate is made from sustainably sourced cocoa, but farmers will still have benefits in line with Fairtrade goals, such as improved income, competitive pricing and tailored investment suited to their needs.

Cadbury has been able to leverage its supply chain well in recent years to provide a solid and stable foundation for its production in the UK, Canada and the USA. How do they go from that to the magic end product?

The Production

Ever wondered how Cadbury manages to get the very unhealthy, yet absolutely delicious, fondant filling into Creme Eggs? Had discussions over whether it’s an injection mould for the outer shells and then the fillings? Then wonder no more!

It’s actually quite simple really. The two halves of the shell are made separately and then filled with the fondant to create that ‘fresh egg’ look inside. The halves are then shut in a book mould to create the final product, that is then wrapped for sale. If you want to see everything in action, there’s a great video on YouTube (and below…) from Bloomberg on the full UK production process.

Probably the most bizzare thing in the whole production process, apart from the fact that there’s someone working for Cadbury whose job title is ‘Easter Shift Manager’, is that all of this happens in winter. Supply chains are year-round anyway, but production processes need to be done in such a way that the hundreds of millions of eggs are ready for shipping for the 1st of January.

There you have it – a brief history of, and the not-so-secrets behind manufacturing one of the pillars of Easter. Now, I don’t know about you, but we’re off to the shops for a few Creme Eggs before they disappear for another year…!

Leading Under Fire Is Leading With Heart

Leading with empathy in the face of adversity


When the Prime Minister of New Zealand declares the tooth fairy and Easter bunny as an essential service, it brings warmth to the otherwise repeated drudgery of Government press conferences. It brings a smile to those facing the grind of lockdown and isolation – even if only for a moment.

“You’ll be pleased to know that we do consider both the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny to be essential workers, but as you can imagine at this time, of course, they are going to be potentially quite busy at home with their family as well with their own bunnies.” Jacinda Ardern 6.04.2020

You can watch a short clip from the press conference here

Credit: Radio New Zealand

The way was paved long ago

Leading with warmth and heart is not a style of leadership that is learned and it does not appear overnight, you cannot pretend or try to switch it on. What was called an “Ardern effect” during her election campaign is now proven to be a signature style.  

What she was once criticised for now defines her. Ardern has an undeniable charismatic ability to relate to people. This is what cements her as a leader, when things get tough and when really crappy things happen to us, she is there to be our strength when we can’t hold ourselves.

Her response to the mosque attacks showed the world who New Zealand is. I was at a mosque in Wellington when she arrived unannounced to express her condolences. While the spontaneous songs that erupted through the crowd were captured by the media, what was not captured is what I saw. I saw her slowly approach the building taking time to look at all of the chalk drawings on the footpath that local children had made. She then took the time to embrace a Muslim woman who audibly gasped in shock that she was there right in front of her and so close – this is the same woman who stood at the gate handing out tissues to us well-wishers and providing us support while we tried to process the incomprehensible act.

While the Imans’ and Muslim leaders were being strong for us, Ardern became their strength. The strength she provided was through human connection and a hug. Warmth and heart. The cameras weren’t there and that’s what really counts. Her values are inherent to her as a person, she does not switch them on and off.

COVID-19 Ardern style

When the COVID-19 viral filled cloud looked to be approaching our shores and spreading, Arden was met with a barrage of criticism from the opposing side. Their volleys were able to land while she held off pushing us further up the alert levels, knowing that level 3 and 4 would begin to impact the economy.

As soon as NZ showed a potential case of community transmission she acted. “Go hard and go early” was her slogan and it seemed to work. We closed the border and went into lockdown.

Next, the nay-sayers said we didn’t have enough test kits and that we weren’t doing enough testing. This was only a lag due to supply issues. As of yesterday, NZ has the highest testing rates per capita in the world.

Leading with empathy in the face of adversity is perhaps the toughest gig of all. But it didn’t take long for the measures to start to make an impact and NZ was soon revered worldwide as a leader in this situation.

We aren’t just flattening the curve, we’re smashing it.

How does she do it?

She stays cool, calm and collected but she never switches off her heart. She acts when required but won’t be bullied or pressured into pulling the trigger too soon. She has a few trusted advisers and what must be an epic home base to support her.

We can all take lessons from her style and not step into a persona at work. Be yourself 100% of the time and lead with compassion. Ardern provides the perfect template of an authentic leader in action.

This article is solely the work of the author. Any views expressed in it are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official policy of the New Zealand government or of any government agency.

Want to keep up with the latest coronavirus and supply chain news? Join our exclusive Supply Chain Crisis: Covid-19 group. We’ve gathered together the world’s foremost experts on all things supply chain, risk, business and people, and we’ll be presenting their insights and daily industry-relevant news in a content series via the group. You’ll also have the support of thousands of your procurement peers, world-wide. We’re stronger together. Join us now.

7 Reasons Why WFH Is So Damn Difficult Right Now

WFH can be a struggle! So what can you do about it?


Even experienced WFHers are struggling. So why can’t you get anything done?

And what can you do about it?

1. TOO MUCH ANXIETY:

Stress and worry makes it harder to concentrate because you don’t have headspace for anything else.

TIPS:

  • Switch off the constant Covid-19 newsfeeds – you need a mental break or you risk having a mental breakdown.
  • Set yourself clear deadlines to achieve specific small targets in a short burst of time. So, 1 hour to finish a pitch. This will help you focus on one task at a time. Don’t look too far ahead – nobody knows when this will end. Just plan a day and or a week at a time. You cannot control the coronavirus, so focus on what you can control.
  • Every time you achieve a small goal you will boost your dopamine levels (the reward centre of your brain). So, make sure you have plenty of them in a day.
  • Combine this with regular exercise to reduce your cortisol (stress hormone) levels.

2. A LACK OF ROUTINE:

Without the daily rhythm of the commute, lunch breaks, meetings and an evening spent winding down, you might feel lost.

TIPS:

  • Ever heard that saying 90% of what we do is habit? Well, we are creatures of habit…you just need to create new ones. Get up at the same time each day, shower and dress, “go” to your workspace, plan your day – including your breaks – and you will put yourself into work mode.
  • Plan your downtime too – it will give you something to look forward to. For example, at 5pm I will switch off my computer and sit on the balcony/decking/lawn and have a nice cool drink while chatting to friends on the phone. A clear differentiation between work and rest, will enable you to ‘get away’ from work even if you are still in the same physical space.

3. FEELING ISOLATED:

If you are used to a busy office, constant interaction with colleagues and clients, demanding deadlines and a mountain of things to do, sitting at home in isolation can leave you feeling flat.

TIPS:

  • Recreate the office vibe at home. You and your colleagues can use apps like HouseParty or Microsoft Teams so you can all see each other during office hours – and get input from the team (remember to mute your voice if you don’t want everyone to hear everything going on in your home). Or Skype or WhatsApp so you can “see” people and work collaboratively.
  • Work is not just about work – for most people it’s also about socialising. Recreate Friday night drinks on HouseParty or have a virtual lunch break each day when you sit and eat or snack while chatting.
  • Also boost your network – sharing with others is key. Procurious has a great feed that you can follow either online or on twitter. The added bonus is that you will link to more people and that could lead to more opportunities or great ideas for doing things differently.

4. TOO MANY DISTRACTIONS:

While some are struggling to stay focused because their home is just too quiet, for others the opposite is true. Noisy children, several TVs all blaring at once from different rooms or flatmates/partners who want to chat all day, make it impossible to achieve anything.

TIPS:

  • Have you have spotted people conducting conference calls in their cars while still parked on the driveway?  It’s probably the only quiet place they can find during lockdown. Do the same, find a quieter space… even if it is the car/shed/basement.
  • If you can, agree a “quiet” time for you to get work done. Also, consider when you do tasks that require concentration – for example, do your report writing in the early hours or later at night.
  • Either invest in noise-cancelling headphones or listen to music on your earbuds to drown out background noise.

5. YOUR TECH IS NOT UP TO IT:

This is a difficult one to deal with – while tech stores might not be open, you can order plenty online. However, there’s probably very little you can do right now to upgrade your internet connection. This can not only be frustrating but leave you feeling that you just can’t get anything done.

TIPS:

  • Keep your work tech for work – if you are spending your day laughing at silly memes or watching funny videos, you might (inadvertently) download a virus or click on a link that gets you hacked.
  • Ask your employer – can someone send a laptop to your home? Or can you be provided with remote access to office servers?
  • Restrict your household’s use of the internet during your peak working hours – so that your internet access does not lag (or lag too much).

6. YOU DON’T SEE THE POINT:

You might not have a job next week or next month and you could fall sick and end up on a ventilator. So, completing a project or meeting a deadline might not seem worthwhile.

TIPS:

  • Focus your energy on doing something positive. Set yourself some interesting, challenging and achievable goals. Do a 75-hour coding course, build a personal website or even KonMari your house…anything that will give you a sense of achievement and purpose. It’s highly motivating, so try it.
  • If your job is under threat, online learning is a must. Many courses are free and you might have plenty of free time to complete them. Pick courses that lead to recognised qualifications – the ones in demand by employers.

7. YOU HAVEN’T GOT ENOUGH/ANY WORK:

This is almost worse than having too much work. You might find that it takes you all day to complete what you used to achieve in a few hours. Or you are forced into job creation mode – trying to come up with useful things to do from clearing out your inbox to updating your online profiles. Without a little bit of adrenalin pumping through your veins you feel like you are just plodding.

TIPS:

  • Take on a few extra commitments: Volunteer in the community – it will force you to complete your work more quickly. Or set yourself a home fitness challenge. If you are a bit of a deadline junkie, it will give you the motivation to get your work out of the way.
  • Relish this time – in a few months, you may be firefighting at work to get things up and running and might look back on this time and wonder why you were stressed about not getting enough done. Perhaps we should all learn to enjoy living at a less frantic pace.

Want to share WFH tips and tricks with other procurement & supply chain professionals around the world? Join our Supply Chain Crisis: Covid-19 group and connect with professionals all around the world in the same position as you.

Coronavirus: What You Need To Know According To These Procurement & Supply Chain Thought Leaders…

What do these thought leaders think about covid-19 when we asked them recently at Big Ideas Summit London 2020?


As of yesterday, the number of coronavirus cases topped 500,000 worldwide – doubling in just over a week.

While we can all do our part to stop the virus spreading, there is an added pressure on procurement & supply chain professionals with the business world on our shoulders.

So, we seized the opportunity recently at our Big Ideas Summit London to ask some of our favourite thought leaders what we can do when it comes to coronavirus.

This is what Group Procurement Director at Just Eat, John Butcher had to say when we asked him ‘What’s been your #1 risk with the coronavirus and how are you mitigating it?’…


Procurement Digital Transformation Lead at Diageo, Amit Sheth had a slightly different response when asked the same question…


Strategic Supply Chain Risk Expert and Professor of Supply Chain Management, Omera Khan had this brilliant bit of advice when we asked her ‘How can companies manage supply chain risk in times of crisis?’…


We’re living in extremely uncertain business and economic times at the moment with many sources indicating that a deep global recession is coming. So, what should procurement be most worried about? This is what Rachel Stretch, Consultant at John Lewis & Partners suggests…


Pressure is something that procurement & supply chain professionals everywhere would be feeling right now. So, last, but certainly not least, we asked legendary Rugby coach, Sir Clive Woodward ‘How do you work under pressure?’

Want to stay ahead of the curve with all things coronavirus and supply chain? Join our exclusive Supply Chain Crisis: Covid-19 group. We’ve gathered together the world’s foremost experts on all things supply chain, risk, business and people, and we’ll be presenting their insights and daily industry-relevant news via the group. You’ll also have the support of thousands of your procurement peers, world-wide. 

Life At The Coronavirus Epicentre: Is This A Glimpse Into Our Future?

Are you ready for what’s to come? …


Every day, those of us in Australia, the US and Europe are increasingly feeling the full force of the coronavirus. In Italy, where the situation has escalated, the country has been fully quarantined. Countries all over the world are implementing strict restrictions on incoming travellers, and with no end in sight, the stock market continues to plummet.

One Procurious member who has already survived the worst of the crisis, and has come out the other side, is Paul Ryder, President of the International College of Finance at the Bank of China in Shanghai. Paul shared his fascinating story with us about what he’s experienced during the last few months, including special intel on China’s current supply chain situation. His insights are perhaps a glimpse into our future … will we be able to get the coronavirus under control, or will the sacrifice feel too great? 

When the news broke … 

The scenes of chaos we’ve seen worldwide and even worse, the harrowing decisions Italian doctors are now having to make, have become what we all now accept as consequences of the outbreak. But in stark contrast, Paul says that when the virus broke out in China, he felt the response was quite controlled: 


Want to hear more of Paul’s fascinating story? Join our exclusive Supply Chain Crisis: Covid-19 group. We’ve gathered together the world’s foremost experts on all things supply chain, risk, business and people, and we’ll be presenting their insights and daily industry-relevant news over an 8-week content series via the group. You’ll also have the support of thousands of your procurement peers, world-wide. 

We’re stronger together. Join us now. 


4 Tough Interview Questions First-Time Procurement Leaders Are Asked – And How To Answer Them

How can you make the most of your background and experience when interviewing for your first leadership role?


There are phases in your career that are both exciting and terrifying. Most would agree that none are so scary as your first leadership role. 

What do your team think of you? How on earth do you performance-manage someone? How do you manage the expectations of those above you if the members of your team aren’t performing? 

All these questions will most likely plague you on a daily basis. But they’re also the exact questions you need to answer if you’re interviewing for your first (official) leadership role. 

In order to unravel the mystery of what a good interview for a first-time leadership role might look like, we chatted with Tony Megally, highly experienced recruiter and General Manager of The Source

Tony gave us insights into how common it is to be interviewing for a first-time leadership role, what you’ll most likely get asked and how to answer. 

You want to become a leader. Should you change organisations to do so? 

Meet Praveen. She’s a Category Manager at a large bank. She’s been in the position for 4 years, and she’s ready to step up and take on a new challenge. She sees a team lead role at another large bank. Should she apply?

‘There’s definitely a few things I’d recommend for Praveen – or anyone in this situation – to consider before applying,’ says Tony.

But what are these things? Tony recommends that before you apply externally to become a leader, you should all explore all opportunities within your own organisation to do so: 

‘If leadership is in your sights, you should have put that into your career development plan and be actively working towards it with your manager.’ 

But what if there simply aren’t any leadership opportunities? Should you apply externally then? 

‘It depends,’ says Tony. 

‘Most often, the business that is looking externally for leadership talent will be doing so because internal capability is either lacking or requires development. So you’ll most likely need to have proven leadership experience to be able to bring value.’ 

How NOT to answer leadership interview questions 

When it comes to how you answer leadership interview questions, Tony says that if you haven’t formally been recognised as a leader or you don’t have a great deal of experience, there are still many great ways to quantify what you’ve achieved. 

But there’s one thing you should never do when talking about your leadership experience and that is: not be honest. 

Tony says: ‘To be able to position yourself for success, you need to be totally transparent about your experience.

‘It becomes obvious [that you’re not being honest] when you’re being asked about the experience you claim and you’re unable to support it by providing thorough and relevant examples.’ 

Question 1: ‘Talk me through your team leadership experience.

If you’re interviewing for a leadership position, one of the first questions you’ll be asked is about your leadership experience. But even if you haven’t had a leadership position in title, there are a number of ways you can answer this, says Tony. 

He says you should talk about how you’re developing the required skills through things you’re already doing in your job.

For example: ‘You might be a senior member of your team and have taken on the “unofficial” role as the 2IC. 

‘Or perhaps you’re actively coaching and developing peers or other junior team members, or you’re leading a project or a change initiative. These are all great examples that support your leadership ability and should be discussed as part of your experience suite.’ 

Question 2: ‘Can you give an example of how you’ve led people through change and achieved a positive outcome?

In the current business environment, managing change is an essential skill for a leader – more so than ever. But as change can be inherently challenging, businesses want to know their leaders can not only manage change but also do it in a way that gets a positive outcome.

When you’re asked this question, Tony says, you need to emphasise two things: 

  • How you have led people?
  • How did that leadership lead to a positive outcome for the business?

But the example you give doesn’t have to be from an ‘official’ leadership role: 

‘Say, for example, you volunteered to lead a high-profile project. You’d talk about the scope of that project, your role as the leader and how you influenced, engaged and managed others, even if those people are not your “official” reports and were instead business stakeholders or individuals allocated as resources as part of the project team for which you were accountable. 

‘You’d then talk about how your negotiations or perhaps great communications with stakeholders resulted in the project saving X dollars, reducing risk, etc. Whatever the outcome was, you’d make the link between your leadership skills and that.’ 

Tony also says that when you’re leading in this capacity, it’s great to validate the outcome you’re discussing by talking about how the project was received by the business’s executive leadership team: 

‘Ideally, the project you’ve led will have been noticed by senior people in the business. Being able to validate your great results by saying “XYZ executive gave this feedback” is instrumental for highlighting your ability to both manage people and results but also your ability to manage up.’ 

Question 3: ‘Tell me about a time when you performance-managed someone.’ 

One of the most challenging questions first-time leaders get asked is about performance management. It’s challenging because if you haven’t had an official leadership position, it’s hard to quantify this. 

But there are ways around this, says Tony. He recommends drawing on other experiences you’ve had, even if they’re outside of work: 

‘I’ve met countless people who in their professional careers are not formally in leadership roles, but they might be leaders through their own side-hustle, or through other paid or voluntary employment.

‘This leadership experience is relevant. As long as you’re able to provide thorough examples of how you performance-counselled an individual and the process you went through, it’s OK to discuss this in an interview.’ 

Question 4: ‘Talk to me about what techniques you use to motivate a team.’

One of the big transitions we all need to make when moving from an individual contributor role to a leadership role is to begin to think more about our team and less about ourselves. This new way of thinking, Tony says, is something that most organisations want to see in their first-time leaders:

‘Leadership, at its core, is about people and what comes with that is having a general concern for the needs of others. The quicker first-time leaders recognise this, the better they will be at their job.’ 

Tony believes that for this question, you can use outside-of-work examples if you need to: 

‘At an interview, detail how you’ve motivated groups of people – for example, perhaps you’ve coordinated social or sporting activities, or helped to identify capability gaps and then provided training as a motivational tool.’ 

Tony says that if you can provide an example of a time when you motivated people in challenging times, you’ll be doing particularly well: 

‘One of my favourite [examples to hear] is where people have boosted morale in times of significant change.’ 

Interviewing for your first leadership role will most likely be tough. But preparation is key so ensure you have quantifiable answers to all of the above questions. 

Have you interviewed for a leadership role for the first time? Was there anything else you were asked? Do you have any other recommendations? Let us know in the comments below. 

Lessons For Procurement Teams: We Should Be Serving Our Customers, Not Our Processes

How can procurement teams serve their organisations better?


Being a procurement professional can be challenging. The role requires individuals to vet contracts, pricing and supplier relationships. But the bigger picture is that procurement should be the eyes and the ears of the organisation when it comes to how much money is being spent. 

Procurement teams need to ask themselves the questions – what value can be added here, what problems are we trying to solve?

In an ideal world anyone working in procurement should be adding shareholder value, making an impact on the business’s return on investment, increasing social responsibility, driving innovation, enhancing the organisation’s reputation and mitigating risks.

As professionals, we want to enhance our company’s reputation and manage risk

While I have been in the industry for more than 25 years and I assume that this is what drives CPOs, I’m not the only one. Recent research conducted by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services confirms it, with 55% of respondents saying that ethical and commercial considerations are equally important when evaluating suppliers.

But how could procurement professionals know it all?

Procurement leaders are not soothsayers. Nor are they mind readers. The only way they can possibly serve our organisations effectively is if they know what’s happening – the answer lies in having greater transparency of spend. Again, the HBR survey agrees: 90% of executives surveyed indicated that increased business transparency leads to better-informed decision-making across the entire organisation.

What’s stopping procurement from serving the business quickly and efficiently?

Something is holding procurement teams back. That something is a combination of outdated processes and siloed technology that prevents procurement from seeing the bigger picture.

In some instances, manual processes are providing incomplete data or data that is woefully out of date. In others, a lack of support from top management, finance or legal teams is hampering procurement. And sometimes the technology is there, it’s just too siloed to be valuable.

In short: the lack of connectivity between those responsible for sourcing, procuring, paying and reporting on an organisation’s financial transactions is preventing procurement leaders from being able to do what we know they should do, what they want to do and what they believe it is vitally important for them to do.

So how do they move from a situation where, at best, procurement professionals are seen as the naysayers of the business towards an ideal world in which procurement is proactively managing supplier risk, driving innovation and improving shareholder value?

Change the way businesses connect, and the way they buy

It’s time to reimagine the buying ecosystem. Imagine if, instead of having an adversarial, competitive relationship with suppliers, procurement could actually build strong emotional connections for the benefit of both parties? It’s possible.

And, if it works, the entire procurement-supplier relationship will change to provide better results, for more impact, greater transparency and increased shareholder value. And it can all happen faster, more efficiently.

It’s time for change

Quite frankly, the world has changed. Procurement teams who simply think their role is to reduce costs or ‘drive a hard bargain’ in a way that compromises supplier relationships may very well no longer have a job in 10 years’ time. Changing the very nature of the procurement function and its business impact isn’t a ‘nice-to-have’, it’s a ‘must-have’.

But it’s not just up to procurement teams to change this.

Procurement does not operate in a silo. As the impact of the coronavirus expands across the world it becomes increasingly obvious that managing suppliers in isolation will not solve bigger problems. As those who buy and procure goods and services, procurement doesn’t just have a responsibility to our organisations: it has a responsibility to know about every touchpoint along the supply chain.

The answer lies in collaboration

There are already pockets of people who do it right: who share information willingly, who build supplier relationships for the benefit of all parties and who understand the data behind the data. 

They deserve to be supported in this change.

It’s time for suppliers and technology providers, for vendors and innovators to join forces and make procurement of the future a business unit to be proud of.

Technology providers need to come in with a collaboration-first mindset and then make a commitment. Vendors should be saying, ‘This is what we think you need, this is how we’re going to solve that problem, and this is the ROI this solution can deliver.’

To improve connectivity within organisations and between procurement and suppliers we need to put collaboration first.

Design Thinking Applied To Procurement

Don’t reinvent the wheel, apply design thinking tools to help you plan your next procurement.


Agile processes and design thinking are not fads, they are here to stay. During a three day design sprint that I participated in recently. I was bombarded with many different models designed to stimulate creativity. The result was a continual stripping down of our ideas until they were polished and on target.

Using these tools to break down our assumptions and continually test and probe ourselves for new answers was both exhausting and inspiring. Tools to aid design thinking don’t have to be high tech, new or complex to be effective. They are simple and freely available, so why aren’t we utlising them more in procurement?

Design thinking in action

Here are some of the design thinking exercises that I have used recently in my work:

  • Lightning Demos: before a workshop set the attendees homework to discover relevant tools or examples of either how your problem has been dealt with elsewhere, and/or things you’ve interacted with in your daily life that you find easy to use e.g. pay wave credit card for ease of transacting, a website you’ve used, etc.
  • ‘How Might We…’: takes challenges and poses them as questions.
  • User Journey Maps: These help to build empathy and understanding. Start with how your user first encounters your business / product and map out their experience end to end.
  • Crazy Eights: You fold your A4 piece of paper into eight sections and set the timer for eight minutes. Try and think of any solution possible, no matter how out there.
  • Game theory: Using cards to stimulate combinations of thinking differently e.g. event cards, theme cards, product idea cards. Draw one each from the pile and see what ideas it generates.
  • The Five Whys: the idea is to keep interrogating the cause of the problem to ensure any solution has dug to the actual root cause. In the example below often the response would end at fixing the leak.
  • Personas: Another empathy building tool. Build up a detailed persona of the core or target user and use them when designing ideas.
  • SCAMPER: The acronym represents seven techniques for idea generation: Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate and Reverse
  • Dot voting: With an overwhelming amount of post it notes and ideas, each person gets two dot stickers to place on the post it note that they feel is the most important and contributes to addressing the problem statement.
  • Decision matrix: Because everyone loves a four box diagram in procurement. This Is a great way to clear on priorities, especially if there are a lot of dot stickers!

Want to find out more? Google has made their design sprint kit free, its open source and available for anyone to use. You can find further information about each design thinking tool cited above by visiting their website.

How can you apply these to your procurement project?

Many internal customers come with pre-formed solutions and ideas of how to solve the problem or opportunity they wish to approach the market about. The design thinking exercises are quick ways to ensure that the right solution is being reached for. If the customer is not willing to participate, you can do these by yourself.Test for new ways to solve the issue and test that the problem or opportunity has been correctly identified in the first place.

Ditch the 400 page strategy

The Lean Canvas is where we can start to bring all the creative thinking together on one page. It should be clear, concise and make a convincing case for change. There are many free examples online. The lean canvas can be used to replace the traditional procurement plan document for low risk procurements. It can also cut down a category management paper to it’s essence, making the perfect executive summary for others to digest at a glance.

This sounds bonkers

Are people really doing this? Yes! My current workplace is central government agency and we are using the lean canvas approach in the place of traditional procurement plans.The co-design process can replace tenders effectively. The theory of change model is the perfect framework to accelerate an idea and unlock its true impact.

Get inspired and start thinking outside of the procurement box!

This article is solely the work of the author. Any views expressed in it are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect official policy of the New Zealand government or of any government agency.

Building A Team This Year? Talent Alone Isn’t Enough . . . And Here’s Why

What are Sir Clive Woodward’s 3 essential qualities that go beyond talent and will build a great team?


With the war on talent alive and well, especially in procurement, if you’re hiring you should be more than satisfied with finding the most talented employee, right? 

Wrong.

While most of us would be thrilled to secure top talent, Sir Clive Woodward, England’s 2003 Rugby World Cup-winning head coach and keynote speaker at Procurious’s Big Ideas Summit, thinks that talent is simply a starting point. 

In his latest book How to Win: Talent Alone Is Not Enough he explores this theme in detail. He describes how beyond talent, there’s a myriad other qualities that are required for true success. 

And if anyone would know, it would be Sir Clive. Not only did he lead his rugby team to a history-making victory against Australia in 2003, but he’s also held many high-ranking corporate leadership positions. He now runs his own software company, Hive Learning – the peer learning platform for building culture-critical skills at scale.

But if talent is only a starting point, where do you go from there? Ahead of his address at this year’s Procurious Big Ideas Summit, we sat down with Sir Clive and discovered what he considers are the essential qualities of a great team.

1. A sponge, not a rock 

‘I always want to hire the most talented people into my teams, but this to me is the starting point and not the finish,’ says Sir Clive. 

‘I will never underestimate the importance of teamwork. But I have this saying that “Great Teams are Made of Great Individuals”. If you have great individuals in your teams, the team stuff becomes a lot easier because you have motivated people, giving their all and are dedicated to the overall goal.’

But what makes people great? It’s certainly more than talent, as Sir Clive points out.

One critical quality, he says, is that people on your team need to be open to continually learning and developing. They need to have a perpetual growth mindset, and be ‘sponges’, not ‘rocks’: 

‘I see a lot of individuals that start out as sponges when they join an organisation but sometimes the longer they have been with an organisation, they can drift into being a rock.’ In coaching language these people are unteachable, uncoachable.

Sir Clive thinks that from an individual and leadership perspective, once you’ve become a ‘rock’ you cease to be able to reach your potential. 

Yet equally, if your team are ‘sponges’ you must be willing to metaphorically give them something to absorb, says Sir Clive.

It’s your role as the leader but also each person’s as a team player to be continually pushing: ‘Many people hire very talented people, as I do. But you have to keep investing in mentoring and leading these people to harness their talent – but this must be a two-way thing.’ 

2. Working well under pressure

This year so far, we’ve had the Australian bushfires, the coronavirus and Brexit . . . and that’s just the external pressures procurement is facing. 

Stress and pressure is all around us, especially in the increasingly complex business environment. 

To combat this, a great team needs to work exceptionally well under pressure, Sir Clive asserts, which, again, comes down to the individual’s ability to work under pressure. 

‘In the military, there’s a saying that in a crisis, people fall back to their lowest level of training. The message here is: train hard and train well. You’ll need it.’ 

Many leaders who believe their people have never had to work under pressure have trouble understanding how this is a quality that can be ‘trained’.

Yet it’s absolutely possible, says Sir Clive, who is a fundamental believer in the brain’s ability to do just about anything it wants to: ‘You would be amazed at what’s possible, you really would. Even if you haven’t worked under pressure before, you can retrain your brain; your people’s brain. It’s amazing what you can do.’ 

Sir Clive is certainly the expert on working under pressure. Back in 2003, the English team were level with Australia in extra time in the Rugby World Cup Final. They ended up being the ultimate example of performing under pressure when star player Jonny Wilkinson moved the game from a draw to a victory by kicking a drop goal in the final minute of extra time. 

3. Attitude is everything 

Ever had a brilliant employee who tries to undermine you at every opportunity? Or a know-it-all who understands procurement back-to-front, but whom your team hates? 

If you’ve experienced the dreaded ‘attitude’ in your team, you’ll relate to Sir Clive’s final advice when it comes to your people and your team: Attitude is everything. 

Being a sponge is important and performing under pressure equally so. But attitude can be everything when it comes to performance, says Sir Clive: ‘Everyone in your team needs to have a good attitude. It’s the absolute cornerstone when it comes to performing at your best.’ 

Other pearls of wisdom 

Did you know that Sir Clive thinks that you can tell a lot about a person from their tardiness? And that you need a checklist, not a to-do list, to help bring a vision to life? 

Hear more of Sir Clive’s game-changing advice at the Procurious Big Ideas Summit, due to be held in London on 11 March. Not in London or can’t make it? Attend online for free by registering here for your complimentary Digital Delegates pass.

How The Coronavirus Will Impact Your Supply Chain And What To Do About It

What key steps can you take limit the potential effects of the coronavirus on your organisation?


In China on 9 February the world received news it didn’t want to hear.

The number of confirmed deaths from the coronavirus has now overtaken that of the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), with more than 1000 casualties. 

In addition to that, the virus is spreading at an alarming rate. There are now more than 40,000 confirmed cases. And this number is increasing as much as 20% every day.

While the virus is terrifying from a public health perspective, it’s also alarming in terms of your supply chain. Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the virus and now a city in total lockdown and complete disarray, is one of the world’s largest industrial hubs. 

Here’s how the coronavirus is affecting global supply chains – and what you can do about it. 

Production delays and factory closures

If you’re currently manufacturing anything in China, especially in the Wuhan area, you can expect significant production delays.

Fashion fit innovation company Alvanon, who manufacture dress forms in China, has issued a statement saying: 

‘We expect at least a four-week delay on physical goods that have already been paid for. Our factory is currently closed, and while we are doing all we can to minimize delays, we currently do not know when it will reopen.’ 

Currently, all public gatherings in Wuhan are forbidden. All factories and public places are closed. The flow of goods in and out of the area has come to a halt. 

Reduction in freighting capacity 

The coronavirus is now confirmed in more than 23 countries. And the world’s airlines are responding by cancelling flights to and from China. 

Airlines all over the world have ceased some or all of their China freight routes. 

Sea freighting is also likely to be affected. If you have goods in transport from China, there may be significant delays in them leaving major ports. And when they do leave, there’s a risk that crew will become ill on the journey. 

People movement

Freight is not the only thing that needs to come and go out of China. People also do, for business or leisure. 

The restrictions on flights will start to impact business agendas.

Many international companies are shutting down their offices in China and restricting all travel. 

Commodities market and the broader economy

From a supply chain perspective, what’s most concerning about the effect of the coronavirus is the already devastating impact it is having on the commodities market and the broader economy. 

As one of the world’s largest consumers of commodities, decreased demand in the Chinese market has now caused many commodity prices to slump. Copper has fallen 12% and crude oil 10%. The Bloomberg Commodity Index has taken a 6% hit. Analysts expect these decreases to continue.

Economists warn that the impact on the economy more broadly could also be dire. They believe that the fallout from the virus will be significantly worse than the SARS epidemic. 

The Chinese economy is much larger than it was then. But it’s also weaker, due to the continued US trade wars. 

China’s GDP growth is on track to slow (at least) in the first quarter, and analysts aren’t sure it will recover. This will, in turn, affect exchange rates and emerging markets. 

Developed economies are also expected to suffer. The downturn in Chinese tourism is expected to impact Australia’s economy to the tune of $1 billion.

What should you do? 

How can you manage the risk coronavirus represents for your organisation? 

Justin Crump, Procurious consultant CEO of Sibylline, a world-renowned risk management consultancy, recommends that procurement takes the following actions immediately.  

1. Understand cascading supply chain consequences

‘You need to understand more than just your suppliers,’ says Justin, ‘as it will be second-order problems that bite when you think you’re okay.’ 

To do this, Justin recommends you dig further to understand supplier dependencies.

A great way to do so might be to survey your suppliers. Test their exposure to the virus, and then try and mitigate any issues early. 

2. Stockpile if you can 

It might be too late for some, but Justin recommends that everyone who is able ‘tries to stockpile while you still can’. 

This is difficult for those practising just-in-time manufacturing.

But Justin thinks that if you can still action this advice you’ll benefit – as oil prices are substantially lower due to a steep fall in demand. 

3. Invest in resilience

Procurement should never be reactionary when it comes to risks, Justin reminds us. ‘But now, more than ever, you need to invest in resilience.’ 

Justin believes this ‘resilience’ needs to come in multiple forms.

For example:
• look into alternate suppliers – and move now to get ahead of your competitors
• consider impacts on staff, families and customer relationships 
• think long-term about how travel and freighting might be affected

4. Consider the bigger economic picture 

It’s tempting to focus on the now, Justin says. But it’s important to consider the bigger economic picture and how you might need to mitigate that risk (if that will even be possible). 

5. Appraise the effect on international relations

All large businesses depend on international relations to a degree Justin says, ‘so the effect on international relations shouldn’t be underestimated’. 

Justin thinks it’s important that we don’t rest on our laurels and just assume business will continue as usual.

‘What I see happening is that China is quietly blaming the US in some circles for the outbreak, calling it a deliberate attack,’ he says. ‘Likewise, the US is using this to encourage businesses to pull out of China. 

‘China blaming the US feels like more of an insurance policy to deflect criticism from the regime, but still . . . it’s a reminder that the global network is under threat.’ 

So bear in mind Justin’s analysis and consider taking these 5 steps to limit potential supply-chain difficulties resulting from the coronavirus. 

What effects are you seeing on your supply chain from the coronavirus? How are you managing risk? Tell us in the comments below. 

Interested in more hot tips on how to improve your supply chain approach and get more productive? Join the Procurious community of 37,000 members where you’ll find daily inspiration.