What’s your Big Idea? Film it in 60 seconds or less

We’re on the hunt for YOUR Big Ideas – what are the things only you can say? 

Big Ideas Pics1

We believe everyone has a unique vantage point in the industries, communities and businesses they work in. At the Big Ideas Summit we asked our 40 thought-leaders to record their ‘Big Ideas’ live on camera for the world to see. Whether that be Tania Seary’s vision for the future of procurement networking, or Andrew MacAskill’s desire to turn the profession’s recruitment upside down – the scope for truly revolutionary ideas is almost unlimited.

We want to build on this groundswell, so now it’s over to you. We want you to share your point of view and ideas with the community by creating a video no more than 60 seconds long.

It’s really easy to create a video using your computer, phone or using Skype or YouTube. We’ve recommended the best ways to create and share your video with us below.

But why, we hear you ask.

Procurious wants you to make the most of your unique position and tell us what you think is the next Big Idea that will change the face of the procurement profession, based on some of the amazing learning and insights you have.

These videos will help to generate interest and discussion on your Big Idea, give you the chance to share your wisdom with a global procurement community and provide you with a platform to amplify your thoughts, and turn you into an influencer.

If you need inspiration our competition winner (and great Big Idea to boot) why not listen to Bertrand Maltaverne’s submission?

View videos from our 40 influencers at the Big Ideas Summit here.

How to submit your Big Idea

It doesn’t matter whether you film your submission on your phone, tablet, laptop or PC. We’ve put together a list of some of our recommended methods for reaching out.

Once you’ve completed your film, you can reach us by email ([email protected]); on Twitter (@procurious_) or via Skype (Procurious.HQ).

Skype

MattSkype

For an easy and painless experience, we’d recommend you record and share your Big Ideas video with us using a Skype video message.

It’s really easy to send a video message on Skype and you don’t need to be sat in front of your computer, as Skype is also available for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone.

  • Add Procurious.HQ as a contact
  • Right-click and choose the ‘Send Video Message’ option. As much as we’d love to Skype with all of you, Procurious keeps us very busy so make sure you don’t call us by mistake!
  • Skype provides you with 3 minutes to record your Big Idea: press the red ‘record’ button to begin your video message, when done hit the red button once more to stop recording.
  • Submit your video to us using the ‘send’ button next to it.

You shouldn’t need any help, but if you do refer to Skype’s step-by-step instructions on its help pages: https://support.skype.com/en/category/VIDEO_MESSAGING/

YouTube

SigiVid

Alternatively, if you have always dreamed of being an Internet star, then YouTube is for you. YouTube appeals to those of us who get a kick out of seeing how many people have watched our video.

  • Head over to https://www.youtube.com/upload and either select a readymade video to upload, or hit ‘Webcam capture’ to film your piece on the spot.
  • Select ‘Start recording’ to get the camera rolling (remembering to tick ‘Allow’ should you be prompted by YouTube’s Privacy Settings)
  • When done press ‘Stop recording’ followed by ‘Continue’.

Don’t be daunted by filling-out the ‘Basic info’ – all that’s required is a title, short description, and some tags. For your title we’d suggest using something along the lines of: My Big Idea is… [insert here]

In order to make your video easy to find, we’d recommend using the #BigIdeas2015 and Procurious tags – but feel free to add more!

Click ‘Publish’ when you’re happy and remember to send us the YouTube URL when it’s live.

Email and phone

Want to submit your video using good old-fashioned email? We’ll accept that too!

Attach your video to an email with the subject line ‘My Big Ideas Video’ and send to [email protected].

If you’re using an iPhone or iPad you can also record your video using iMessage. Android and Windows Phone users can choose to use Skype (Windows Phone has Skype already built-in)

We look forward to watching all of your submissions and sharing them with the wider Procurious community!

Robert Gates summarises the state of the world at ISM2015

This article is part of a series about Hugo’s visit to ISM2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. Today he tells the memoirs of a secretary at war…

Valerii Iavtushenko/Shutterstock.com

Robert Gates is undoubtedly the most high-profile speaker I’ve had the chance to listen to in the flesh. Former Director of the CIA and Secretary of Defence under two very different US presidents, George W Bush and Barack Obama, Gates made the point that over his career in Washington he actually worked for no fewer than eight presidents.

He began by putting out a request to the assembled businesspeople to hire some of the million soldiers, sailors and airmen leaving military service over the next few years who will be looking for fulfilling careers, saying that they will be some of the most resourceful candidates available for hire. Gates comes across as somewhat pessimistic throughout most of his speech, except when he touches on the subject of servicemen and servicewomen, speaking optimistically and warmly of the great potential of America’s youth.

He’s scathing about Washington DC, referring to it as the “city of egos” and he is no fan of LBJ, a big fan of Reagan, and speaks of the surprising similarities in the leadership styles and strategic choices made by George Bush and Barack Obama. The continuity of security policy across the last two years of Bush’s presidency and the first two years of Obama’s was in no small part due to Gate’s presence, with fundamental national interests and strategic choices remaining steady. He notes, however, that the current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan is blamed equally on Bush for invading, and Obama for withdrawing too soon.

After this brief introduction including some jokes about stupidity in Washington DC and LBJ’s stupendous ego, Gates launches on an absolutely fascinating summary of the state of the world’s security situation. He begins with the consequences and message sent by Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, widens his focus to the whole of the Middle East; ISIS, Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iran and his grave concerns about the recent nuclear agreement, Yemen, Egypt, Turkey, Jordon, Lebanon – before turning east to the unsustainable growth of China and north to Putin’s Russia, Ukraine and the Crimea before finishing with Cuba. He has an all-encompassing world-view and draws repeatedly on history – WWII, the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the hopelessness of artificially created borders drawn up by the victorious powers after WWI. Some notable quotes from this part of his speech include:

  • “If we treat China as an enemy it will very soon become one.”
  • “Nationalism is easily stoked but hard to control.”
  • “We can expect more attempts by Russia to thwart US influence.”
  • “The greatest challenge to national security and the global economy is not an international threat – it can be found in the two square miles around Capitol Hill in Washington.”

Gates then pulled his focus back to the US and told the audience that in his opinion, all of the county’s security woes were self-inflicted. He dwelt on the cuts to defence spending and the instability caused by the withdrawal of US world leadership. He touched on the low rating given to terrorism risk in the audience poll [see previous blog post], agreeing with the 5% figure and noting that terrorist attacks were not an existential threat but rather something that can be managed and suppressed (on American soil, at least) in much the same way as crime. He points out that attacks like Fort Hood, the Boston Bombing and Charlie Hebdo are not disruptive in that they do not affect people’s ability to carry on with their lives and continue to do business.

To summarise the main take-outs for procurement professionals from Gate’s speech:

  • Supply chain disruption from global/cataclysmic conflict has diminished dramatically while the potential for localised conflict is very high.
  • International commerce, energy supplies, freedom of navigation and other factors that affect supply chains depend not on events happening overseas but on decisions made in the US.
  • When doing business with the Middle East and North Africa, most states have a good deal of stability apart from the ones already regarded as “failed” – Syria, Libya, Yemen, potentially Lebanon and Iraq.
  • On negotiation: the worst possible position to be in is an unwillingness to walk away from the negotiation table.
  • Hypocrisy in supply chain ethics: the US sources rare earth minerals from China despite its human rights record, titanium from Russia despite its aggression.
  • Young people he has seen (particularly those in uniform) are of an extraordinary quality – they’re smart, eager and they care about things.
  • The most important trait for a leader is a willingness to surround yourself with smart people and listen to them.

Gates received a standing ovation from an audience that knew how privileged they were to hear from such a great mind. A brilliant opener to ISM2015 that really set the standard for the rest of the conference.

China services PMI climbs again

The HSBC China Services Purchasing Managers’ Index climbed again in March, reaching its highest level for the year. This metric, used to measure the activity of purchasing managers across China, indicates that despite a slow-down in the nation’s factories, China’s services industry is reporting reasonable growth.

The details behind the rises, which caused a significant rally in the Chinese stock market, are were outlined by Qu Hongbin, HSBC’s chief economist for China, who said in a statement “The latest set of PMI data indicated that Chinese service-sector companies had a strong start to the second quarter, with activity and new orders both rising solidly in April.”

Serving China 

China’s services industry is enormous and accounts for roughly 48.2 per cent of the nation’s economic output (significantly higher than any other sector). This sector is expected to continue to grow as the country’s citizens become increasingly wealthy.

Some analysts have issued caution over the recently released PMI figures and indeed, remain concerned over China’s economic future. When the stats used to generate the metric are reviewed more closely, it can be seen that seen the final prices charged by firms involved in the data collection are, in fact, at a 15 month low. This has prompted some analysts to suggest that firms have simply reduced costs in order to meet sales targets.

Despite these concerns, the services sector does seem to represent a shining light for the Chinese economy. Housing, exports, manufacturing and investment have all slowed in recent months. However, jobs and activity in the services industry appears to be growing.

Procurious Big Idea #2 – Revolutionising Procurement Recruitment

Andrew MacAskill, Managing Director at Executives Online, wants to revolutionise procurement recruitment.

Andrew says: Why don’t we flip the procurement recruitment process on its head? Start with reference checks and psychometric testing to find out if the candidate matches the skills and experience needed for the role before investing in an interview.

See more Big Ideas from our 40 influencers

Big Ideas Summit 2015: what the press said

Last week the world’s brightest procurement minds all collaborated at the Big Ideas Summit 2015 – powered by Procurious.

What the press were saying about Big Ideas 2015

Here’s what press and professionals alike have been saying about it…

Spend Matters:

UK editor Peter Smith reported: “Meeting Goddard was a highlight for me…

“Given it was the first Procurious event, and one that tried to do something a bit different compared to most conferences, we thought it was a real success. More to come on the day, well done to their team and I’m sure it won’t be the last Procurious event we’ll be reporting on.”

Peter’s US colleague Jason Busch added – “The Soho Hotel has a truly great small conference facility – the event, being simulcast live online, kicked off with Professor/emcee Jules Goddard, a wonderful host, facilitating an icebreaker to get the audience engaged…

On first keynote speaker Sigi Osagie, Jason commented – “I was left wanting for Sigi to flesh out his ideas a bit more as the topic is a clever one. He’s a truly gifted speaker”. If (like Jason) you want to hear more from Sigi, let us direct you in this direction: Sigi Osagie’s Big Idea on Unlocking Our People’s Passion

Jason also had the following to say about McKinsey’s Theano Liakopoulou:

“Immediately following lunch yesterday at the Procurious Big Ideas Summit, Theano, a partner and procurement and operations expert at the consultancy, woke everyone up by delivering a presentation on measuring and exploring procurement value.”

Thank you Peter and Jason!

Supply Management:

CPOs: Remember everyone can be extraordinary – Paul Snell leads with a story on Sigi. Read it here.

Three customer service lessons procurement can learn from Uber – spotlight on Chris Sawchuk’s keynote (The Hackett Group). Read it in full

Giles Breault:

We’ll just leave this Tweet from The Beyond Group’s Giles Breault right here…

giles

Lance Younger:

Lance Younger, CEO of Statess writes on LinkedInBig Disruptive Ideas – RIP The Procurement Function.

“There were some fantastic themes and insights from the participants… The debate around procurement 2030 during the Big Ideas Summit also helped to push our thinking about procurement.

Lance continues: “In reality, many big ideas merely shape the agenda, and the speed of change is limited by aspiration and ambition.  Culture and innovation within individual companies also will shape the direction and procurement’s role.” Before concluding… well, you’ll just have to pay his article a visit to find out!

Notes from ISM2015: `The future demands us to innovate!`

This article is part of a series about Hugo’s visit to ISM2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. Here Hugo swaps sweeping desert for expansive conference floor…

First impressions? The Phoenix Convention Centre is spectacular, both on the inside and outside. Architecturally stunning like most of downtown Phoenix, the building looks like it could easily absorb ISM2015 three times over with room to spare, though I’m yet to see what it’s like with every delegate crowding into the building. The Exhibit Hall remained tantalisingly closed today while the exhibitors set up their displays, so I wandered around the accessible areas with my lanyard around my neck and showbag full of procurement-related goodies in my hand. I even stepped into the neighbouring performing arts centre to get a glimpse of the concert hall but was hustled out by security.

As a guest blogger, I have a ‘media’ badge attached to my lanyard, which I think is pretty cool. I’d like to stick it in the ribbon of my hat the way reporters wore their press IDs in old movies, but a) people might think I’m strange, and b) I don’t have a ribbon on my hat. I’ve been invited to the press room tomorrow morning, which I envision as filled with tobacco-smoke and weathered reporters tapping furiously on noisy typewriters (I know, I watch too many old movies). It’s more likely to be a plain room with PowerPoint capabilities and a handy Wi-Fi connection.

The crowd waiting for the first keynote speaker was buzzing with chatter, making me appreciate that aside from the huge line-up of events, perhaps the single most important aspect of this conference was the networking. ISM has put plenty of time aside to dedicate to networking – there’s a welcome reception tonight, two networking breakfasts, two “dessert receptions” over the lunch hour (I like the sound of that) and networking receptions in the exhibitor hall at the end of each day, for which I am the excited holder of two complimentary drink vouchers. Everyone in the crowd before me is chatting – and I mean everyone. No one is standing by themselves looking lost or awkward, which can be attributed either to the fact that everyone in procurement knows each other, or perhaps they’ve all been to ISM conferences in the past, or maybe it’s just the convivial American temperament that makes it so easy to meet new people. I can pick out a few different languages and accents in the crowd – a fair number of Chinese attendees, some UK accents, French and Spanish speakers and the full spectrum of regional accents from all over the States. I haven’t picked up any Aussie accents just yet, but I’ll keep my ears open tomorrow.

One of the most difficult parts of attending ISM2015 is the sheer volume of events that run concurrently. For example, if I attend a two-and-a-quarter-hour “Signature Session” tomorrow morning, I’ll be missing out on no fewer than twenty-four other sessions – just incredible. It demonstrates the sheer size of this event and makes selection a hand-wringing process, but ISM comes to attendees’ assistance by offering Learning Tracks and audience levels. The Learning Tracks create a clear pathway through the bewildering array of sessions that you can choose to follow, or to mix and match as I have done. The Tracks are:

  1. High Performing Value Chain Management
  2. Best Practices in Procurement
  3. Strategic Partnership
  4. Risk Management
  5. Leadership Strategies
  6. Delivering Financial Results
  7. Strategic Profitable Growth

Each event has a Learning Track listed against it and also a recommended audience level:

  • Essentials (for professionals new to supply chain management)
  • Experienced (next level up)
  • Leadership (professionals in executive and leadership positions with more than ten years of experience).

ISM has also created a handy App to select events, create a schedule, give feedback and other features. I’ll definitely need it tomorrow when I’m dashing from session to session all over the massive convention centre.

ISM in the spotlight

ISM knows how to put on a show. Even though the grand opening is tomorrow morning and the conference crowd is not yet at full size, this keynote speech is the first official event of the conference. The lights suddenly dim in the cavernous hall (massive, but not even the biggest in the building), the crowd falls silent and a single figure stands on stage in a spotlight. “The future demands us to innovate!” he begins, sharing a vision of the future for procurement. He is followed by five other illuminated figures, all beginning with the formula “the future demands”.

This is the theme of the conference. ISM turns 100 this year, but the CEO Thomas Derry tells us that the organisation is looking to the future. Derry introduces the crowd to the innovative snap poll system where we used our phones there and then to vote on a question put to the audience. As a researcher I was very impressed to see the bar graph on the big screen rapidly changing as responses flowed in to the question: “What global threats are most likely to disrupt your business or supply chains?” Results were:

  • Economic collapse abroad: 39%
  • War or terrorism: 5%
  • Direct or indirect cyber-attacks: 30%
  • Natural disasters: 20%
  • Other: 6%

The surprises for me here were the low score for terrorism and the high score for cyber-attacks – a flick through the program confirmed there’s an entire conference session devoted to protecting against cyber-attacks, so this is certainly front-of-mind in the procurement world.

After a few more preliminaries, the audience bursts into applause as the familiar figure of Robert Gates, former Director of the CIA and US Secretary of Defence, steps onto the stage. It’s not often you get to hear from someone who has directly shaped the history of the modern world, and he didn’t disappoint.

Chris Lynch: `You’ve shown me the money, now show me how we’ll get there`

Rio Tinto’s CFO, Chris Lynch offers: when you’ve got a big idea that you believe in, then don’t waste the chances you get to convince others – communication will be key.

Tinseltown/Shutterstock.com

Remember that people at the top of organisations are time poor, therefore Big Ideas, backed by courage, resonate.

So if you get the opportunity to present your idea, make sure it’s punchy and grabs their attention.

Don’t overcomplicate it. And make sure you frame it so they can quickly see how it will solve their business problems.

What should give you confidence is that pitching a Big Idea should be a lot easier than a small one.

Because you are passionate about the topic, and you have sized the prize. If not, you better make sure that you are, and that you have.

We all have our own way of communicating, but two things stand out – rehearse, prepare and test.

We can all write our best ideas on a page, and even all convince ourselves we have every angle covered.

My tip is don’t just believe in yourself, test your concept first, with family, or a friend or colleague.

They will give you the feedback, and the confidence, to make sure you have properly stress-tested your idea and your plan.

If you were presenting to me, I’d want to know: what’s different about your idea? How come we haven’t been able to capture this value before?

What resources will you need to get it done, and how long’s it going to take? Don’t underestimate the time and effort it can take to drive change through an organisation.

And importantly, make sure you know how you’re going to measure success.

So the art of communicating in procurement, as it is in any field, is, once you have shown me the money, show me how we will get there.

Communicating within your own organisation, be it up or down, is one thing, but communicating across boundaries or outside to others may help you create wealth.

For it will probably be outside our own walls that new ideas are flowering or taking hold. We need people on the inside with visibility of the outside.

To act as intrapreneurs for our business and help re-invent it.

At Rio Tinto we have 60,000 people and operations in 40 countries over 6 continents. So for us social media provides a global platform to communicate and share.

I think there is a real opportunity in eLearning. You can imagine as a CFO, I see a better ROI on that than bringing hundreds of people together for training.

We live in a world of instant communication, from email to social media, but let us not overlook face to face communication, be it real – or via satellite to save money!

You can learn a heck of a lot by picking up a phone, and you can speed up and broaden your connections through social media – it can often be the shortest route to an answer and can expand your breadth of knowledge.

In a relatively small but specialised field of procurement, communication is even more important.

Accountants, well, I hate to admit it, but there are a lot of us…and we all kind of do the same job.

But if you’re a procurement professional, you may be specialised and isolated.

Social media platforms [like Procurious] may well be your best way to connect and share learnings and the experiences of others in similar circumstances.

The short distance between two points, or a knowledge gap and a solution, maybe just a phone call or email away.

ISM2015 Annual Conference: A near-death experience on Camelback Mountain

In the first of a series of articles, The Faculty’s Hugo Britt takes us on a journey to the Institute of Supply Management’s annual conference. But first he must contend with Camelback Mountain…

Today, in Phoenix Arizona, I climbed the stairwell of the Empire State Building. Well, not the Empire State itself, but rather its equivalent – the Echo Canyon Trail to the peak of Mount Camelback. That’s what the colourful sign at the trailhead told me, anyway, along with a dire warning (unheeded) about the difficulty of trail. But more on that later. I’m here in Phoenix to attend the ISM2015 Annual Conference, one of the premier events for procurement professionals internationally.

First off, I’d like to thank my hosts at ISM (for those not in the know, ISM is the Institute for Supply Management, one of the largest supply management associations in the world) for their generous invitation and my employer, The Faculty Management Consultants, for supporting my attendance.

Today was only a short day at ISM2015, with a keynote speaker and a single conference session, so for this initial entry I thought I’d set the scene with my experiences as a first-time visitor to the US (not counting Hawaii) and my near-death experience on Camelback. The conference’s grand opening is in fact tomorrow, which promises to be an action-packed day full of procurement gems that I’ll be sure to share with you.

To introduce myself, I’m a 30-something-year-old research consultant from Melbourne, Australia, who doesn’t do particularly well in the heat. I’m lucky to have landed in Arizona in spring, as a 30 o C day is much more bearable than Phoenix’s hottest-recorded summer high of 50o C. Even at 30 degrees, I’m dashing from shade patch to shade patch, wearing my battered old akubra that I thought may pass for the local cowboy hat (it doesn’t). As suggested by my job title, I’m a researcher specialising in procurement, but it’s early days yet – I only joined The Faculty in November 2014 and as such am in what I call “sponge mode”, soaking up everything I can on how procurement works with the long-term goal of becoming a procurement guru like my colleagues at the office. The sponge metaphor is actually quite apt, as my expectation that procurement would be a dry topic was very quickly overturned when I discovered the industry to be absolutely fascinating with boundless areas of investigation, a truly international outlook and incredibly passionate people.

I flew in on Saturday afternoon on a 50-seater jet out of Los Angeles. Bleary from the previous 13-hour leg from Melbourne, I was nodding off when a glance out the window jolted me into full wakefulness. The desert below me was just incredible – blinding white sands, abrupt rocky ranges, dried river systems spreading through the landscape like bronchioles, and patchwork clusters of irrigated farms around the two major waterways visible from the air, the Salton Sea and Colorado River. Phoenix itself swung into view and my first thought was how improbable its very existence seemed in such a hostile landscape. The sprawling suburbs hold 4.3 million people, with row upon row of identical terracotta-coloured rooftops and tiny pools glinting in backyards. The city centre itself (“downtown” in local parlance) seems very compact from the air and I strained in my seat to pick out the Phoenix Convention Centre, the venue for ISM2015.

downtown phoenix

Americanisms

Now, I know there’ll be some American readers of this blog who may be puzzled by my harping on certain parts of my experience, but some things seem so quintessentially “American” that I can’t resist including them here for non-US readers. Namely:

  • Tipping – so straightforward to Americans yet a minefield for foreigners like me. Who should I tip? Everyone that I make a monetary transaction with who isn’t a machine? How much? Have I offended by giving too little? Did I just give that waiter way too much?
  • American fare – my room service menu offers the following delights:
    • Jalapeno bacon and pistachio brittle
    • Tater tots
    • Sweet potato fries with marshmallow drizzle and candied pecans
    • Quico corn nut pie
    • Crispy chicken wings with blue cheese dressing
    • Fried whisky sour pickles with horseradish buttermilk dressing.
  • Super-friendliness – people from Phoenix (Phoenicians?) go out of their way to say hello to strangers – lovely!

How I nearly died on Camelback Mountain

I only had one gap in my schedule to go on an outing, so on Sunday morning I took it. I was up bright and early to grab a hotel breakfast (Fruit Loops; don’t tell my wife), jumped in a cab and headed to Camelback via Paradise Valley. The aforementioned sign at the trailhead warned that the second half of the climb was rated “extremely difficult”, at which I scoffed merrily and started on up. Ten minutes later I was still scoffing about the overblown rating when the sun heaved itself above the range … and I was flattened. It was hot. Heat was beating down upon my hat, reflecting off the rock walls on either side of me, shimmering up from the rock face at my feet – awful. My steady trot slowed down to a sweaty crawl (literally a crawl in some sections that required hands as well as feet) and I cursed my hubris. But the heat wasn’t what nearly killed me. What nearly killed me was narrowly avoiding stepping on a Mohave Rattlesnake on the edge of the path. I’m pretty good at understanding American accents, but I wasn’t quick enough to interpret what the guy behind me was yelling. I thought he said something like “heaven’s sake”, but he was actually warning, “there’s a snake” just before my foot when down right next to its head and, thankfully, it darted under a rock rather than going for my ankle. I also saw two fat-bellied Chuckwallas (we call them goannas back home), the Saguaro Cactus (a local icon which grows up to 50 feet tall) and the squat Compass Barrel Cactus.

mohave rattlesnake

Standing on the top, I was rewarded with an incredible panorama of the city and surrounding peaks disappearing into the haze. Phoenix is greener than you’d expect, especially in the wealthier areas, and of course the city’s famous golf courses. I was looking down on a particularly beautiful course directly below Camelback, wondering if it was the location of the first event of the conference, the ISM2015 golf tournament. I’d chosen to climb a peak rather than play golf (I can imagine my golf-mad colleague Chris shaking his head in dismay as he reads this) but the rewarding view convinced me I’d made the right choice. Besides, I hadn’t packed my chequered knickerbockers (or whatever it is that golfers wear).

Tania Seary’s Big Ideas on shockproof procurement

Tania was talking at the Big Ideas Summit, the world’s first digitally-led procurement event. Join the Big Ideas Group to see how 40 influential thought-leaders aired their ‘Big Ideas’ on cost, risk, technology and people management.

DSC07567_2

If procurement is to “shockproof” the profession, we need to move out of our silos and work together to solve potential supply chain disruption issues.

Most of these issues – slavery, child labour, unsafe work practices, exploitation and neglect for the environment, copyright – are too big for any one person – or even any one company – to solve alone.

The procurement community can build muscle, by continuously flexing and responding to each other’s calls for support.

Procurious, in particular, could support the development of the procurement community’s muscle by providing the forum for solving some of the biggest problems we face today –

  • Mitigating potential supply chain disruptions
  • Driving innovation
  • Winning the war for talent

Mitigating potential supply chain disruptions

Supply chain risk is now regularly quoted as the number one concern for many CEOs.

We also know from recent history that unethical practices can permanently impact corporate reputations and brand equity.

It is interesting to consider the powerful role of social media in both exposing, and educating, everyone in the supply chain about inappropriate practices. Consumers are very fast to share their discoveries through social media, but procurement and other supply chain professionals have been slow to leverage social media in their due diligence and reporting processes.

Alarmingly, many organisations cannot see past their first tier supplier and are unable to readily investigate the supply chain that lurks behind them, resulting in product recalls, disruption and, in some cases, death. As my colleague Gordon Donovan likes to say “we need to pull back the supply chain curtain

So Gordon has proposed a Big Idea on how we could use social media to solve one of our biggest threats – by creating a Global Supply Chain Tree.

As we all know, Wikipedia has used thousands of volunteers to create a free encyclopedia with a million and a half articles in two hundred languages in just a couple of years. This is the opportunity for procurement too!

Why couldn’t we use Procurious to build a detailed map of our supply chains? We could –

  • Record ownership structures
  • Detail parent/child supplier relationships
  • Rate supplier performances and compliance

This information tree could be fully built and self-governed by supply chain professionals as they uncover each layer in their supply chain.

This would dramatically increase our supply chain visibility and hopefully verify its purity – which would mitigate some huge risks we have in our supply chains today.

Leveraging growth and innovation opportunities

The second challenge we face is to deliver growth and innovation from our supply base. Today’s procurement professional is as much about contributing to the top line, as the bottom line.

Being able to actively seek out information is part of social’s beauty – and crafting a network of thought-leaders, influencers, and experts around you is an unquestionably valuable thing in identifying and developing growth opportunities.

One of our team members, Jordan Early, has put Barcelona-based Citymart forward as a great example of turning traditional procurement on its head. See what he has to say.

Citymart enables citizens to choose which city problems need solving and to provide less traditional suppliers with an opportunity to win the contracts to solve them.

This is an inspiring example of how we could use our global online networks to collaborate and deliver better outcomes for ourselves and our communities.

Winning the war for talent 

I have written previously that if procurement is going to win the war for procurement talent, we need to engage with Millennials on the platform they 
use the most: social networks.

Unfortunately most of the online images of procurement are outdated and uninspiring. We need to encourage all CPOs and vested parties in the profession to quickly upgrade their online presence to make the whole profession more attractive.

By creating and
maintaining fresh and dynamic Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
company profiles, we can open the door to new recruits to our profession.

In addition to conducting a “social media audit” on our online presence and positioning, we should also consider online projects that appeal to Millennials such as PACE – Procurement Advice for Charitable Enterprises – which was developed by a group of participants in The Faculty’s Procurement Executive Program.

The PACE concept is to connect sourcing professionals with charitable enterprises to provide volunteer professional procurement advice.

Via a social media platform, procurement professionals, either independently or via their employer, register their interest, specific skills and availability. Not-for-profits then access the register and find a ‘match’ that provides timely advice and assistance to solve their procurement problems.

This is a great example of using our community muscle to ensure everyone wins:

  • For not for profits, it provides real, targeted assistance via ready access to procurement expertise on demand and an extra level of accountability and transparency, without spending a fortune on consultants.
  • For procurement professionals, it facilitates an opportunity to undertake meaningful work in manageable chunks of time, networking and a development opportunity of using existing skills in a different setting.
  • For employers, it can easily be incorporated into an existing Community Relations or Corporate Social Responsibility program, and offers a means of broadening community relationships and increasing good corporate citizenship beyond the traditional photo opportunities of planting trees or painting fences.

Whilst still in the conceptual stage, it shows the power of procurement working together and plays to the need of the Millennials to do something “meaningful” in their careers.

The opportunities for procurement to collaborate on-line to shockproof and enhance the profession are boundless. What is your BIG IDEA for our first collaboration project?

Chris Lynch on why the best Big Ideas might come from our suppliers

Rio Tinto’s CFO, Chris Lynch talks partnerships.

DSC07400_2

Given the speed of change in business and procurement trends, no enterprise can afford to be an island.

Like the Internet, it is the speed of connection, and new partners bringing new ideas that will help define the pace of change and business reinvention.

Our partners, much like our friends, can point out things we didn’t see before.

That’s why partnership is so important, as is choosing our partners wisely.

Rarely do Big Ideas get advertised, for if they do they are probably now in the mainstream.

It is our partners who can help find the new ideas on the margins or periphery of our control that can help us reinvent business and create value.

On the hunt for the next Big Idea in the procurement world, we all know that the best ideas might come from our suppliers themselves.

I’ve always believed you should “reward the idea”.

If a supplier comes to you with a unique idea, do the best you can to work with them and recognise their suggestion.

Partnerships can be hard work, but they can also be more fertile and rewarding.

That is why we look to partnerships around the world.

The key to partnership must be a sense of shared value – even in tough times.

For example in the mid 90s when I was at Alcoa, we had to achieve a turnaround for an operation. If we could achieve this, it would be a win-win for us and our suppliers.

I called a town hall meeting… It was then that I confirmed the lesson, that suppliers want your business to survive, and even thrive, and are prepared to play a part in that success if they are brought on the journey.

Rather than seeing our suppliers as a cost that just needs to be controlled, recognise the value that can be unlocked by working together.

That might be changing a specification, introducing new innovations or standardising production processes, for instance.

Be clear about your objectives, and if you don’t have the expertise in-house to achieve them, then use them to help you choose the right partners, and build the strong alliances you need to succeed.

As Sam Walsh, our chief executive at Rio Tinto, said in a recent speech in Korea: “Innovate to grow, partner to succeed”. That is because solo genius is rare and partners make a difference.

There are inventors, and then there are entrepreneurs.

Look at the great entrepreneurs. They all had partners – be they in finance, technology, procurement, you name it.

At Rio Tinto our partners are behind our greatest successes – be it our customer partnerships for our Pilbara iron ore operations in Western Australia.

Or our supplier partners, such as Komatsu, who have helped lead the development of autonomous trucks.

These are huge 308 tonne, three storey-high robots that operate themselves, overseen from our Operations Centre some 1,500 km away near Perth airport.

They have hundreds of sensors that are continuously feeding information to the control centre. They are already some 15 per cent more efficient than our other trucks; they use less fuel and have less wear and tear.

They really are our version of big data in action. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The sensors are now appearing on all our equipment and potentially have huge benefits for the way we operate and our whole approach to maintenance and procurement.

For example, with the help of our IT experts in our Indian Excellence Centre, we can now sense the wear on individual components and better predict when a piece of equipment is going to need maintenance, rather than just using a standard hours schedule.

Ultimately the data and the role of procurement with our partners will become more important, and significantly enhance the value of the actual equipment we buy.

Technology is changing the way we operate and the way we do business, but ultimately we still need people and partners with big ideas and the commitment to getting them implemented.

In procurement it will be our partners who will help shape our future. We don’t have a view on what the future should look like, because with great partners we aim to always be one step ahead of it.

Chris was speaking at Procurious’ inaugural Big Ideas Summit as one of 40 most influential commercial thought-leaders. Learn more about the Big Ideas Summit and how to access exclusive content from the event.

Procurious Blog