Tag Archives: Big Ideas Melbourne

You Don’t Have To Be In Melbourne To Strike Gold Today

The Big Ideas Summit has landed in Melbourne! And there’s a plethora of inspiring and insightful content for you to sift through…

Some would say that Melbourne is famous for the Victorian gold rush of 1851. For a short time the gold output from Victoria, Australia  was greater than in any other country in the world.

Today as Procurious launch The Big Ideas Summit in Melbourne for the first time, we’re having our very own gold rush!  We’re pretty confident we’ll be exporting some of the best procurement content and thought provoking discussion  for you to dig in to!

And don’t worry if you’re not able to  join us in person for the event, you can still strike gold!  Simply sign up to Procurious and join the digital delegates group for The Big Ideas Summit Melbourne 2017 to access live content throughout the day.

Here’s what procurement’s top influencers (and speakers at Big Ideas Melbourne) have to say on the big ticket trends affecting procurement today!

Procurement and the Conversational Century

When he was born in July 2013, Prince George of Cambridge became the first royal baby to have his own hashtag…

Former U.S President, Barack Obama is the author of six of the top-ten most liked tweets of all time…

And pope Francis became the first pope to engage with a wider audience through Twitter…

The social media revolution has allowed for traditional institutions to create personal digital conversations with their audience. Welcome to the era of ‘The Conversational Century’.

Read more here

Line ’em Up: Five Ways To Take A Swing At The Biggest Challenges Facing Procurement

It’s  important that procurement teams address the biggest trends and challenges facing our organisation today. Telstra’s Alexandru Butiri shares five challenges – and five solutions – to trends that will resonate with procurement professionals everywhere from connecting the dots between disruptive technologies and earning a seat at the table!

Read more here

How To Train Your CEO To Get What The Business Needs

Procurement leaders in large corporations face a tough business environment. However, more than 50 percent of procurement functions are still seen as a service rather than business functions with only a small proportion of CPOs reporting into CEOs – the majority still report three levels down. How can procurement train their CEO to get what the business needs?

Read more here 

Eye On The Prize: 5 Ways Soft Skills Can Help You Focus On The Big Ticket Projects

Roll up! Roll up! See the procurement pro dazzle as they juggle 80 balls in the air!!

Sure, it might look impressive, but underneath that whirl of frenetic activity, are you actually adding any value?

When you prioritise keeping multiple balls in the air, you wind up ineffective and shortsighted. But the solution doesn’t lie in downloading the latest time-management app….

Read more here

Cogntive Process Automation Is So Much More Than Robots

With 45 per cent of business processes having the potential to be automated, it’s of little surprise that organisations are embracing the opportunity presented by technology. For many robotics and robotics processes, automation is the starting point.

Re-imagining the way the organisation operates at its core and using technology to enable new ways of working is what cognitive process automation is really about and that;s when the magic really starts to happen…

Read more here

Sprinting Outside Your Comfort Zone

Who could be a better pick to advise on endurance than an ultra-marathon runner?

As a former lawyer turned athlete, Samantha Gash has experienced challenges that require an enormous amount of persistence both within a corporate environment and on the running trail.

Samantha has seen first-hand how projects and big ideas will fail without the right mindset and the extraordinary achievements we’re capable of when we tap into our hidden reserves of persistence.

Read more here

Workplace Inclusion: Cut The Fluff

Business leaders are tired of hearing the “D” word – Diversity. Because the reality is that by and large  businesses already have diverse workforces.

Walk into most workplaces, and you will see some form of workforce diversity: age, gender, physical ability, sexuality, culture, thought. But the problem remains because we are simply not including these diversities where and when it really counts in business.

Read more here 

Renegotiating Mindsets From Competitive To Collaborative

Procurement leaders are facing more pressure than ever in the current business environment. In the wake of prevailing disruption and increased competition from nimble technology-focused companies, the c-suite have become eager to see procurement leaders make their function deliver more and add greater value to the organisation.

When you change from seeing your top suppliers as competitors to enablers, how you negotiate with them will change dramatically…

Read more here 

Why you should encourage dissent in your procurement team

From Brexit to the election of President Trump;  from numerous terrorist attacks to Spain’s crisis in Catalonia, unthinkables have been occurring at an alarming frequency throughout the past few years.

Unthinkables such as these disrupt everything that we presume to be stable and constant, they create an unthinkable environment and, unfortunately, they’re not letting up as we approach the end of 2017.

We know it’s important to change the way we do business to prepare for an uncertain future but how should we be managing our teams and who should we be recruiting to help the function, and wider organisation, face the uncertainties of the world today?

Read more here

Follow all of the action LIVE from The Big Ideas Summit Melbourne via our digital delegates group.

Renegotiating Mindsets From Competitive To Collaborative

When you change from seeing your top suppliers as competitors to enablers, and take a collaborative approach, how you negotiate with them will change dramatically.

This article was written by Sarovar Agarwal, Partner, Communications Media and Technology Practice at A.T. Kearney. 

Procurement leaders are facing more pressure than ever in the current business environment. In the wake of prevailing disruption and increased competition from nimble technology-focused companies, the c-suite have become eager to see procurement leaders make their function deliver more and add value to the organisation.

However, the 2016 Return on Supply Management Assets (ROSMA) Performance Check Study, “What Good Looks Like,” released by A.T. Kearney at the end of last year found that only 15 to 20 percent of procurement functions deliver high value to their organisations.

The study revealed that there is a top-tier of standout performers, a middle-tier delivering value, but performing well below the top tier, and a large group of bottom-quartile performers that add limited value. For procurement leaders focused on becoming top-tier performers and adding significant value to their organisations, we suggest the following approach.

Work smart, not hard

There has been an organisation-wide push toward productivity improvement by businesses, especially by harnessing the power of technological advancements. Procurement functions should be looking at this as a great opportunity.

Historically, procurement has focused on the smaller 2000 suppliers since this is the area of least resistance. In productivity terms, this is like the tail wagging the dog, rather than the other way around. With resources squeezed, procurement leaders are now irrevocably turning to the top 20 suppliers, rather than the complete 2000, because these are the mega vendor agreements that can affect the organisation the most, and where the most value can be added if managed effectively.

Meanwhile, technological advancements (like RPA) are now enabling automation of the large volumes of transactional activity that goes on in procurement, especially for the smaller group of suppliers, to ensure the function remains effective and productive.

If we apply the 80/20 Pareto Principle to procurement, a shift in focus to the top twenty suppliers, nurturing those relationships and making them more effective, will result in better deployment of resources and so more peas – or greater results. One key thing to note is that simply switching focus to the top 20 suppliers isn’t enough, you need to nurture those relationships too, which requires a change in mindset.

Competitive to collaborative

When you change from seeing your top suppliers as competitors to enablers, how you negotiate with them will change dramatically.

When you move into the top 20 suppliers, you are dealing with strategic categories which if led and managed well can make a significant impact on the business. The challenge for procurement leaders is that the relationship status with these suppliers is often complicated.

For example, in the telco world, Cisco is a supplier to every telco’s network, they are also a sell-through partner, and a competitor for the sell-through business.

Which is why it’s very surprising that all too often procurement brings a toolbox – for example RFP, vendor management, basic category management etc – to the negotiating table. This industrialisation of the procurement process is useful for the tail end – those 2000 suppliers with low resistance – but it cannot be used for the top 20 suppliers who have the potential to impact your business and your role in such a way.

The tools to handle these special relationships put better collaboration and engagement of vendor partners at the forefront of the strategy:

Top-to-top engagement: The biggest critical differentiator for the collaborative sourcing approach is top-to-top engagement between the company and the partners – that enables proactive involvement of the c-suite. This can help establish the right leverage and also enable internal visibility.

Business led: A high degree of involvement from the business owners will further align procurement’s interests with the business challenges and opportunities. This requires great communication and trust between functions and top-line management.

Strategic alignment: Procurement functions should start with an open mindset, rather than spell out all the asks at the start. All too often, the cookie cutter approach takes over, which doesn’t deliver the right long-term solutions. This will help deliver tailor-made solutions based on vendor insights.

Collaborative solutioning: Procurement departments should adopt transparent and collaborative solutions. They should conduct design and immersion workshops with partners, to take them along on the journey. 

Involved facilitation by procurement: Finally, they should drive proactive governance and risk management.

Procurement leaders are best placed to play the Lead Orchestrator role to this new way of thinking about the top 20 vendors. For those procurement leaders who are aiming to become a sustainable source of value for the business, the top 20 approach is smarter, more productive and gets better results for your function and for your position in the business.

The first step is changing your culture and mindset towards the top 20 from competitive, to collaborative; from contracting, to partnering – and this is often the hardest!

A.T. Kearney’s Enrico Rizzon will be speaking  at The Big Ideas Summit Melbourne. Join us LIVE to discuss the big-ticket trends affecting procurement – grab a ticket here to secure your seat!

Big Ideas Summit Lands In Marvellous Melbourne!

Toot tooooot! After wowing audiences in London and Chicago, Procurious is steaming into Melbourne to bring the first ever Big Ideas Summit to Australia! With only one week to go, now is your chance to buy a ticket or join the Digital Delegate Group to follow the action online. 

If you’re interested in getting involved but still not entirely sure what’s going on, look no further – we’ve compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions to get you fully up to speed!

What is it?

The Big Ideas Summit is a unique online event uniting procurement and supply chain professionals from around the globe to drive innovation and inspire change. At the Big Ideas Summit in Melbourne we’ll be driving the conversation on the following topics:

  • Procurement in the digital age
  • Trend-spotting and pattern-hunting in procurement
  • Human skills in a machine world
  • The Conversational Century

Our international line up of speakers includes BBC Broadcaster and Visiting Professor at Kings College, Nik Gowing (UK); IBM’s Global Client Centricity Leader and cognitive expert Anita Karlsson Dion (USA); A.T. Kearney Partner, Board Member and data lake guru Patrick Van Den Bossche (USA); and Founder and CEO of the Conversational Century & Facebook’s advisor to the Royal Family, Elizabeth Linder (UK).

When and where is it?

The Melbourne Big Ideas Summit kicks off on Monday 30th October at the stunning Telstra Theatrette at 242 Exhibition Street, Melbourne. If you’re in Australia, there’s still time to reserve your seat! Visit the event website to learn more and secure your ticket today.

If you’re not in Australia or can’t make it to Melbourne, simply join the Digital Delegate Group here on Procurious to follow the action live and access valuable content after the event. Expect to see most of the action in the Group between 08.30 – 18.00 (AEDT) as we share video insights, quotes, photos and summary articles direct from Melbourne.

If you can’t join the action live, not to worry. The thought-provoking discussions and debate will continue long after, and we’ll be sharing video footage of all our Influencers’ Big Ideas throughout November on Procurious.

How can I join in online?

To become a Digital Delegate, you’ll need to be a registered member of Procurious – register here for free if you haven’t already. Then simply join the group to access Big ideas, participate in insightful discussion, connect with our Influencers, access exclusive podcasts and interviews and share your own Big Ideas with the Procurious community.

We’ll also be live tweeting throughout the day, so make sure you’re following @procurious_ to share and respond to our tweets using the hashtag #bigideas2017.

Do I have to be a member of Procurious?

Yes. Participation as a Digital Delegate is free and open to all members of Procurious. By joining Procurious, you will not only have access to all the exclusive Big Ideas Summit content, but you will join a community of 23,000 like-minded procurement peers and gain access to all Procurious’ free resources, including being able to:

  • Upskill on the move with dozens of eLearning modules
  • Get your procurement questions answered by experts
  • Find out about relevant professional events around the globe
  • Become a digital delegate in the global think-tank, Big Ideas Summit 2017

Will Big Ideas be live-streamed?

Procurious boasts a global audience of 23,000+ procurement professionals, from more than 140 countries. If we were to cater to all of these time zones, it would be a tough job – so rather than live-streaming (and keeping you awake at awkward hours), we’ll share exclusive video and podcast interviews with Digital Delegates.

 I’m on the fence – why should I take part?

Here are some compelling reasons to join your fellow Procurians and stake your claim to the wealth of knowledge on offer:

  • Get your questions answered by world-class experts
  • Make powerful new contacts around the globe
  • Share your own Big Idea and make your voice heard
  • Access exclusive content & learnings.

Who are the sponsors?

The Melbourne Big Ideas Summit is made possible by our partners Telstra, IBM, A.T. Kearney and The Source.

 I’ve got a Big Idea of my own…

Great to hear! You can Tweet us your Big Ideas @procurious_ remembering to use the hashtag #BigIdeas2017.

Leave your Big Idea on Facebook – you can find us at www.facebook.com/procurious .

And of course you can tell the Procurious community all about it by joining the Big Ideas Group page and posting it to the community feed.

Who is behind Procurious?

You can read all about us in Our Story.

Join the conversation and register as a digital delegate for Big Ideas 2017 in Melbourne.

Workplace Inclusion: Cut the Fluff!

3 Practical Ways to Move the Needle on Inclusion in the Workplace..

On 30th October, we’re bringing The Big Ideas Summit to Melbourne! Want to join us? Grab a ticket here to secure you seat!

Business Leaders are tired of hearing about the “D” word. Tired of hearing about diversity initiatives, forums, unconscious bias training, statistics. We get it; leaders are probably tired because all of the hype is on the problem.

As D&I (Diversity and Inclusion) Practitioners we are tired also of the “fluffy” responses to inclusion that are labelled as solutions. We’ve all participated in some of the fluff: Cultural Diversity Week, Harmony Day, International Women’s Day, Gay Pride Marches, coin collections for paralympians!

The reality is that by and large Australian businesses already have diverse workforces. Walk into most workplaces, and you will see some form of workforce diversity: age, gender, physical ability, sexuality, culture, thought. Although these staff members are “celebrated” with seasonal activities like Harmony Day, we are just not including these diversities where and when it counts in business.

Why?

  • Australian leaders who hold the power are not from diverse groups
  • There is no real business motivation to drive inclusion
  • There is a lack of know-how on launching and driving sustainable change to move the needle on inclusion.

AUSTRALIAN LEADERS & DIVERSE TEAM MEMBERS: “Feeling like an onlooker at work”

Inclusion can’t happen if we continue to have a distance in structure and relatability between Australian leaders and diverse team members. Figure 1 shows the distance in structure – Australian businesses are still run by Anglo-Celtic men who may have little relatability to people from diverse backgrounds.

Figure 1: Australia’s Anglo Celtic Men still hold the power

How do people from diverse backgrounds feel? It is ‘feeling like an onlooker at work, or more like an invisible spectator than part of a team’. This is the experience of ‘otherness’, or exclusion in the workplace, that might be subtle but is pervasive (Research by Catalyst).

My experiences … have made me far more aware of my “Blackness” than ever before. I have found that … no matter how liberal and open-minded some [people] try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor … as if I really don’t belong. – Michelle Obama

The impact of exclusion can affect everything from morale to career advancement. Diverse individuals report being more likely to withdraw from full participation and contribution (engagement) to the business. At a business level, this typically means lowered productivity or at the very least, less discretionary effort. The problem is Anglo-Celtic male leaders may not even be aware that this is happening.

 

How do we get the attention of Anglo-Celtic male business leaders?

Unfortunately, we will get their attention mostly with business statistics that link to financials. So here are some compelling statistics:

Gender diverse and ethnically diverse companies return 15% and 35% better financial performance than their competitors. 

Sounds like a no brainer to get motivated to do something, right? However, Australia has got to have the diversity represented first and in the right senior roles. At present, every diversity category you pick is under-represented and our lagging shows on a world-stage, especially with women: Australia is only at 14th place worldwide for women on large, publicly listed companies; and 17th place for women in parliament. Once we improve this, then we can talk about leveraging inclusion to get Fig. 2’s financial success stories.

Figure 2: Diversity Matters 

3 steps to cut the fluff and make inclusion matter

Do we wait to get representation first and then work at inclusion? No, start now – here is how: If you are at the top, the middle or indeed in any leadership role, here are three steps to cut the fluff on inclusion:

  1. Understand the diversities you are dealing with (MBWA)

Listening to the unique experiences of diverse employees (MBWA: management by walking around) and adopting inclusive behaviours will reap immediate benefits for your employees and your business. Do not fall into the trap of forming a view about the current state by using data based on outdated personal experience, assumptions and anecdotes or by talking a merit approach.

  1. Translate the potential business impact of continuing exclusion

For example, if you continue to have low levels of women or CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) women represented across your organisation, what does that mean for your reach with customers (51% of Australia’s population are women and we are one of the most multicultural nations in the world). Do you know how your engagement scores translate across diverse groups? Are your staff feeling like onlookers and are these hidden within a 70+ average engagement score?

  1. Commit to act with transparency and accountability

At a senior level, engage the right stakeholder to develop policy, set targets and then make the right leaders accountable for communicating and embedding the policy and the targets into the organisational operating rhythm. All other levels: start with simple acts of inclusion: don’t talk over someone, learn to pronounce someone’s name, encourage an opinion and be open to listening fully – basically invite an onlooker in and keep the door open.

So, cut the fluffy celebrations, events and festivals – instead, take some concrete steps to make inclusion happen on an organisational and individual level, in ways that allow people to be valued and encourage others to step up.

This article was written by Div Pillay & Michelle Redfern, Co-founders of Culturally Diverse Women.

Join us LIVE at The Big Ideas Summit Melbourne to discuss the big-ticket trends affecting procurement – grab a ticket here to secure your seat!

Sprinting Outside Your Comfort Zone

When ultra-athlete, World Vision Ambassador and Melbourne Big Ideas Summit speaker Samantha Gash ran 3253 kilometres across India in scorching heat and punishing humidity, she discovered that even best-laid plans will always go awry. But, as she tells Procurious, any challenge can be overcome by adapting your plan, recalibrating and moving forward.    Hear Samantha Gash LIVE at the Melbourne Big Ideas Summit on Monday 30th October. Click here to learn more.

Who could be a better pick to talk about endurance than an ultra-marathon runner? As a former lawyer turned athlete, Samantha Gash has experienced challenges that require an enormous amount of persistence both within a corporate environment and on the running trail. She has seen first-hand how projects and big ideas will fail without the right mindset strategies, and the extraordinary achievements we’re capable of when we step outside of our comfort zone and tap into our hidden reserves of persistence.

As a World Vision Ambassador, Samantha Gash ran 3253 kilometres in 76 days across India, raising over $150,000 to fund education programs and creating a global digital campaign around the barriers to quality education for children across India. Her other achievements include a 1968km expedition run along South Africa’s Freedom Trail and four 250km desert ultramarathons as part of the Racing The Planet – Four Deserts Grand Slam.

It’s an impressive list, and reading it on paper doesn’t do justice to the heat, flies, exhaustion, injuries and sheer discomfort Samantha must have experienced on these ultramarathons. As she will tell the audience at the Melbourne Big Ideas Summit on October 30th, things never go to plan – but that’s okay, particularly if you have the right mindset to adapt and push onwards.

Adaptability

“You need to be incredibly prepared in the lead-up to a challenge, but upon execution you also need to be highly adaptable,” says Samantha. “Both components are important, because it’s likely that you’ll need to completely change what you thought you needed to do once things really kick off.”

Samantha isn’t exaggerating when she says that in India, not one day went to plan. “From weeks two to four, I was physically and mentally shaken by the fact that I had to walk for considerable periods at a time. I was experiencing body shutdown, brought on by the stress of running across India in 44 degrees and over 90% humidity, combined with trying to keep up with a demanding content schedule to meet stakeholder obligations when it would be optimal for my performance if I could rest”.

For two of the eleven weeks in India, Samantha says she was pretty much crawling. “My stomach blew up, I was getting injuries, and I wasn’t giving myself the recovery I needed. My body wouldn’t let me move beyond a power walk and short running sections. Eventually, I realised that I had to roll with it, and accepted that this was the reality for that part of the challenge. And that’s when my body started to heal itself. Seventy-seven days later, my body was injury free and powerfully running up the mountains in the east of India”.

Samantha says that when you’re doing projects of this scale, you’ll inevitably go through a breakdown period before you get to the adaption phase. “You have to be calm and kind to your body – it’s essential to get through this anxiety-ridden period.”

Relentless forward motion

The language Samantha uses – adaptability, stakeholders, execution – comes across as highly professional and wouldn’t be out of place in a corporate environment, reflecting her background as a lawyer. But there’s one over-used business catchphrase – “moving forward” – that takes on a different meaning when used by an endurance athlete.

“’Relentless forward motion’ is the idea that it doesn’t always matter how fast you’re moving; so long as you’re moving forward, you’re always moving towards your goal. It’s important to think about the strategic parts of the project when you’ll need to devote 100% of your focus and greater energy. When the odds are stacked against me in endurance racing, I rely on the strategies I have prepared that allow me to move forward.

“In a long term endurance event, whether physical or mental, people inevitably burn out and choose to opt out of the challenge. However, if you can’t mindfully push past the challenges, it’s irrelevant how fast you went.”

Strategic vulnerability

Samantha recommends that leaders should put on their “armour of toughness” at challenging times to make sure a project continues to move forward. This is particularly important at the start of a project, but down the track it’s often a good idea to show some vulnerability.

“Effective leaders know that it’s important to be able to show vulnerability, and also to accept vulnerability in others, in order to reach your goal,” says Samantha. “Sometimes the strongest leaders are the ones who can show their team a degree of vulnerability. Reversing the roles of leader and follower enables the team to step up and support you, because you won’t get the best out of your team members if you always show strong solid leadership and direct workflow.”

Samantha Gash is part of an incredible line up of inspirational, international speakers appearing LIVE at the Procurious Big Ideas Summit Melbourne on Monday 30th October. Time is running out – reserve your seat today!

Cognitive Process Automation Is So Much More Than Robots

With 45 per cent of business processes having the potential to be automated, it’s of little surprise that organisations are embracing the opportunity presented by technology.

On 30th October, we’re bringing The Big Ideas Summit to Melbourne! Want to join us? Grab a ticket here to secure you seat! 

Shifting business landscapes, a relentless focus on cost reduction and the intensification of competition to even retain, much less grow the customer base, means every opportunity to optimise needs to be explored.

For many robotics and robotics processes, automation is the starting point. To unlock full and sustainable value, organisations need to look beyond a point solution approach. Re-imagining the way the organisation operates at its core and using technology to enable new ways of working is what cognitive process automation is really about and that is how the magic can really start to happen.

You really do need a strategy

Identifying a potential process and even deploying a robot, can be done very quickly. In the absence of a strategy however, many organisations are often faced with the question of how they actually measure the value. Are the benefits real? Why am I not seeing the impact in my downstream metrics and performance? Once answered, the next discrete process component should be how and where to deploy robotics at scale to drive the business outcomes that impact the company performance.

Having a strategy is a fundamental building block. It enables the agenda to be defined, set and consistently reinforced. It becomes the reference point for what, how and why things are being done and this shift is what elevates the automation opportunity beyond simple cost take-out. A robust strategy should articulate how process automation (robotics + cognitive computing) can drive strategic growth, optimisation of the customer experience and enhanced employee engagement. It’s a formula for significant and sustained benefits and more importantly, they can be captured quickly.

Even virtual systems can cast a shadow

The idea that technology on its own is all that is needed often leads organisations to failing to consider the impact on people and processes. Legacy systems and functions set up to support them, and often work around them, means the people and process component are intrinsically linked.

Organisations need to fundamentally rethink their current operating models and envisage the framework they need to put in place to enable automation of business processes. In the cognitive computing world, business processes can be reconfigured in minutes not months. When this is not done, the ‘shadow’ organisation emerges. People and processes remain the same, or even more disappointingly, grow in complexity to accommodate the technology that has been implemented.

Where does cognitive computing fit in? 

In the automation agenda, cognitive computing can unlock new sources of value. Insight driven decision making becomes the way of doing business and simulation capability enables testing of ideas and hypotheses quickly for agility. For one client, this means 50M+ calculations in under 10 sec.

Adding natural language processing and the ability to leverage data that has never been used before from unstructured data sources becomes the way of doing business. Robots adjust and adapt using cognitive self-learning capabilities.

And what does this mean for people? Talent is key enabler of organisational value and in the world of cognitive process automation, it’s all about enabling people to focus on high value work. The relationship between people and machine becomes one of continuous learning from one another, enhancing the work that people do. People + Process + Technology; it’s a formula for competitive advantage.

This article was written by Alice Sidhu – Partner, Digital and Cognitive Business Transformation, IBM.

 Join us LIVE at The Big Ideas Summit Melbourne to discuss the big-ticket trends affecting procurement – grab a ticket here to secure your seat!

Eyes on the prize: 5 ways soft skills can help you focus on the big-ticket projects

From guest contributor Shaun Hughes, Chief Procurement Officer, Telstra.

In a complex and hyper-connected world, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to juggle every demand on your time without losing sight of important projects. The solution doesn’t lie in downloading the latest time-management app, or introducing the latest project management methodology, but in the development of five key soft skills. 

I’ve always been impressed by jugglers. Otherwise known as multi-taskers, the best jugglers are seemingly able to keep an unbelievable number of projects and tasks in the air at once. But underneath the whirl of frenetic activity, impressive as it might look, is it really effective?

Firstly, trying to juggle too many projects at once often leads to short-termism. Rather than make hard prioritisation decisions on what really matters, we often fall into the trap of focusing on the most urgent task at hand.  Meanwhile, the big-ticket projects that really make a difference are lost in the swirl of activity.  Busy-ness leaves no room for effectiveness.

You may be able to get every task done on your list, but does it really add value?  We all know what our best work looks like, but are we setting ourselves up for success?  Creating the time to think and to prioritise is essential, but how do we know that we’re working on the right things?

Soft skills remove ambiguity.

Modern procurement is about driving a change agenda.  Great organisations have great talent and great talent doesn’t always agree.

I used to think getting things done was about getting everyone to yes, now I believe it’s about getting the “NOs” to neutral and maintaining enough momentum in the “YES camp” to move things forward.

But the task of converting all those NOs to neutrals can sometimes seem overwhelming. If you don’t have existing relationships in place, you’ve simply got no idea why individuals (or entire functions) are resisting your change agenda. Confronted with so much ambiguity and complexity, it can be hard to know where to start.

What I’ve found is if you simply roll up your sleeves, start talking to people and understand their perspectives it’s amazing what you learn about what is important to them and why.  Understanding this takes a bit more time sometimes, but change is much more likely to stick.

Five soft skills that will help you win back your time

1. Make the effort to really connect – see the person, not the task. Take the time to understand those around you, what is important to them, their fears and aspirations, what motivates them.  While the degree of connection each of us want at work will vary, when we connect as people in a real and authentic way the whole human dynamic of that relationship changes.  When our focus is only on the task, it’s much harder to see the person and the impact your agenda might have on them.

2. Ask not tell – start with a question, and then keep asking questions. Even if you want to talk about your agenda, when we ask permission to do so, something changes.  We are now being invited into the conversation. The dynamic shifts from one of pushing our own agenda and position, to a pull dynamic where we are being asked to explain it.

When the conversation pauses, inquire with curiosity.  It never ceases to amaze me how different things can be in reality to how they appear on the surface.  When we simply listen with a view to finding space to talk ourselves, I wonder do we always hear what is being said to us?

When a really important idea that I just don’t want to forget hijacks my ability to listen, one thing that works for me is the simple act of writing that thought down. This seems to remove the need to keep trying to remember it, or the urgency to blurt it out, and allows me to listen. 

3. Reasonable people acting illogically – most people in business are smart, pragmatic and reasonably rational. Admittedly, we all have moments when we lapse a little, but corporate norms of behaviour tend to reinforce pragmatic rationalism.  So, when we see behaviour that doesn’t quite make sense to us, it’s often because we don’t fully understand what’s important to those around us.  What should we do?  Start back at point 1 and build a relationship.

Throughout my career I’ve taken many opportunities to do many different things in many different parts of the businesses I’ve worked in. Different roles in different industries, but always coming back to my core skill in commercial / financial management. Breadth through rotation provides a wider perspective on the world around us and I’ve certainly benefited from this. It’s amazing how much you can enjoy learning something new; the broader our own experiences, the easier it is to understand the perspectives of others. 

4. Learn to let go – for many overworked jugglers, the problem can be of our own making. If your leadership style means controlling every decision and rewriting everything your team produces, you will always have too much on your plate. Learn to recognise talent, enable it, establish a set of principles to work by and communicate these clearly. Then, simply get out of the way and let talent be talent.

You may be surprised to find that the quality of work goes up as people feel more empowered and valued.  Do any of us do our best work when we know the boss is going to get out the red pen and rewrite the whole thing?

5. Know when to call in the umpire – we have umpires in sport for a reason. Sometimes in the heat of the moment the desire to win distorts the player’s perspective of what’s really happening.  Imagine a tennis game without an umpire ….
                In            out!
               In!          Out!!
               IN!!        OUT!!! 

Nothing can stall a project quite so much as an unresolved disagreement.  So, rather than let the relationship falter, or prosecute the same issue repeatedly, be pragmatic about when to find an umpire.  Make your respective cases, accept the decision and move on.

Is there anything wrong with acknowledging where you are and saying “Hey, we’re not going to agree on this, how about we get a third party to be an umpire?

Good communication, transparency and investment in relationships may seem like a counter-intuitive way to lesson your workload, but your soft skills are the most effective method you have of bringing those multiple projects under control, focusing on the big-ticket items that will really move your business and your career in the right direction, and driving lasting sustainable change.

Telstra is a leading Australian telecommunications and technology company, offering a full range of communications services and competing in all telecommunications markets. Hear more thought-leadership from Telstra at Procurious Big Ideas Summit Melbourne on Monday 30th October. 

How To Train Your CEO To Get What The Business Needs

The majority of CPOs are still reporting three levels down from the CEO. Enrico Rizzon, Partner, Procurement & Analytics, A.T. Kearney Australia outlines how procurement can build a strong business case!

On 30th October, we’re bringing The Big Ideas Summit to Melbourne! Want to join us? Grab a ticket here to secure you seat! 

Procurement leaders in large corporations face a tough business environment. Facing low growth, disruption, increased competitive pressures from well-funded private equity firms and nimble technology-focused innovators, the demand for creative procurement services to deliver not only on cost improvements but also create new solutions that help the overall business strategy is growing.

However, more than 50 percent of procurement functions are still seen as a service rather than business functions with only a small proportion of CPOs reporting into CEOs – the majority still report three levels down.

The need for procurement leaders to be able to build strong business cases that proactively influence and challenge CEOs is greater than ever. The overall goal is to make the CEO understand that what you provide can help solve business challenges, not just the procurement issues.

To deliver on these business challenges there are three key skills that all CPOs must adopt if they’re to succeed.

Herding cats

 Herding cats is a challenging and vital skill when it comes to engaging the c-suite. Those with experience will understand that, at that level, there are individual agendas and incentives that drive different, and not always helpful, behaviours especially when the levers and areas being utilised to deliver value are less commonly associated with procurement. One needs to be politically aware, and know how to navigate this to ‘corral the cats’ and drive the change that is necessary to unlock the value for their businesses.

Speak their language

 The c-suite are not interested in what you want, but they are interested in what the business needs. A simple language change through framing conversations with the c-suite differently can have a dramatic impact.  Think of this as, ‘same, same but different’. To put this into practice, Chris Sullivan from CCA, who now reports directly to the CCA Group CEO, suggests structuring procurement’s role along dimensions that mater to the business and are clearly aligned with the business strategy. It is especially important to ensure that all in the procurement team understand and learn this.

 Build trust

One of the quickest ways to burn trust is to talk about procurement and not the business. Building trust is not easy and it takes time, but once achieved it will transform Procurement from a services function to a business partner whom the CEO relies on. This can only be built through delivery, and more importantly consistency of delivery. There is no point in over-delivering one year, only to not deliver the following year. This extends to numbers and metrics that Procurement use to report delivery. In a recent A.T. Kearney survey, CFOs consistently felt that metrics used by Procurement were less robust than other service functions. If what you report is not credible, then your trust will also quickly be eroded. Overhauling delivery metrics is a sure-fire step to building trust with the CEO.

Mastering these three skills will stand you in good stead to engage the c-suite to not only improve the overall Procurement function, but to truly impact the business so that it can grow and prosper.

My final piece of advice is to be bold.

As George Bernard Shaw famously said, ‘the reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.’ In these times of low growth and disruption, being reasonable may not deliver the result for you or for the organisation you serve. So back yourself, be bold, help lead the change that the business needs.

Take the first step and you may be pleasantly surprised at what eventuates.

Want to hear more from Enrico Rizzon? He’ll be speaking  at The Big Ideas Summit Melbourne. Join us LIVE to discuss the big-ticket trends affecting procurement – grab a ticket here to secure your seat!

Line ’em Up: Five Ways To Take A Swing At The Biggest Challenges Facing Procurement

What are the hottest topics on the table for Australia’s leading telecommunications company? Telstra’s Alexandru Butiri shares five challenges – and five solutions – to trends that will resonate with procurement professionals everywhere.

Today, we’re at the point where we need to look forward to see what’s coming, understand where the dynamics of the industry are going, and make sure we participate in those trends. It’s equally important, however, that we address the biggest trends and challenges facing our organisation today.

The following five challenges are not the result of theory or a brainstorming session on the whiteboard. Each point is a red-hot issue that we, as a procurement function, are currently experiencing first-hand.

  1. Faster than anticipated global supplier consolidation

The challenge: The biggest suppliers on the market are growing at a great rate and becoming increasingly powerful. Supplier consolidation isn’t new, but it’s happening much faster than anticipated. This, in the context of value being captured at the layer of applications and services, can fundamentally impact our telco business.

Solution: One way to address this trend is for operators to join forces and form telco buying consortiums to aggregate volumes and share benchmarks. These can be cross-industry groups that use their combined numbers to counter the weight of global suppliers. Examples of buying consortia in my sector are BuyIn, Telefónica and VPC

  1. Increased complexity adding risk to the supply chain

The challenge: No matter how far down the supply chain it occurs, any instance of modern slavery, child labour, or environmental breaches will reflect very poorly on the purchasing organisation. The supplier ecosystem is now so complex that it can be full of grey areas, making it all the more necessary to do your due diligence not only with your direct suppliers, but with second, third and fourth-tier suppliers.

Solution: Again, forming alliances or joining ventures that certify or give some form of accreditation to suppliers is more effective than trying to tackle such an enormous challenge alone. Organisations need to educate their first-tier suppliers to do the same for their suppliers, and so on. This challenge is relevant from both a social and legislative perspective

  1. Getting the most out of procurement systems

The challenge: Today we are spoilt for choice with procure-to-pay (P2P) systems. While there are many start-ups and new solutions that are elegant, user friendly, and beautifully designed, the reality is that companies our size have to integrate multiple systems. We can’t just throw legacy systems out the window. Another challenge is that any investment in technology will be wasted if it’s grafted onto poor internal processes and unclear accountabilities.

Solution: Do your housekeeping before investing in technology by cleaning up internal processes and driving discipline around the use of P2P systems. Align the process, then align the technology. In other words, prepare your organisation so they can use the technology constructively, otherwise you’ll risk wasting money.

  1. Connecting the dots between disruptive technologies

The challenge: Used in isolation, disruptive technologies can potentially have an impact, but few organisations are looking at them in conjunction. For example, augmented reality will get an incredible boost from AI, while AI will be significantly enhanced by quantum computing. Take Yellow Pages (printed phone directories) as an example. In the early 2000s they recognised that Google’s desktop-based search engine was a competitor, but didn’t imagine that the incredible rise of mobile phones that enhanced their competitor’s reach. The fact that everyone had Google in their pockets had an impact on their business model which was more significant than anticipated.

Solution: Build operating models that are flexible enough to adapt and integrate these new technologies, and think about how they can be combined to further augment each other. Keep in mind the difficulty that big companies have in flexing fast – so prepare by disrupting yourself before someone else does.

  1. Gaining the elusive seat at the table

The challenge: Seeking a seat at the decision-making table has been a procurement goal for so long that it has become something of a cliché, but it is so important that it remains important to keep pushing. In today’s environment, a third party can at the same time be your supplier, your customer, your competitor, and your partner in different fields. All of a sudden, you’re looking at a complex, 360-degree ecosystem, and who sits at the centre of that relationship? Procurement.

Solution: Procurement can prove its worth by providing credible solutions to business challenges, owning the bottom line, and (importantly) owning cross-company transformation landing. Why? Because any transformation program will require your suppliers’ technology and knowledge to land successfully. Procurement controls those partnerships, so should therefore be central in any successful transformational program.

Telstra is a leading Australian telecommunications and technology company, offering a full range of communications services and competing in all telecommunications markets. Hear more thought-leadership from Telstra at Procurious Big Ideas Summit Melbourne on Monday 30th October. 

Procurement And The Conversational Century

The social media revolution has allowed for traditional institutions to create personal digital conversations with their audience. We are in the era of ‘The Conversational Century’.

On 30th October, we’re bringing The Big Ideas Summit to Melbourne! Want to join us? Grab a ticket here to secure you seat!

When he was born in July 2013, Prince George of Cambridge became the first royal baby to have his own hashtag. There were over 3.5 million Facebook mentions of the young Prince in the 24 hours leading up to his birth. Fast forward a few years to September 2017 and there were millions of people watching and commenting as Prince George took his first steps into full-time education.

And it’s not just the royal family taking the world of social media by storm…

Pope Francis became the first Pope to engage with a wider audience through Twitter.

Former U.S President, Barack Obama is the author of six of the top-ten most liked tweets of all time.

And  let’s not forget how Twitter helped Donald Trump win the 2016 U.S. election…

Photo Credit : Jon Keegan, The Wall Street Journal

As of August 2017, Twitter hashtags are ten years old and the # symbol is used a stagering 125 million times per day.

The hashtag, which initially punctuated the more lighted-hearted of conversations,  has now become a powerful tool, adopted by politicians, marketers, campaigners and fundraisers alike.

Elizabeth Linder, a Princeton University graduate, is at the forefront of the social media revolution. She has described the intersection between Facebook and the 21st century governance as ‘The Conversational Century’. Linder started working for Facebook as their Government and Politics specialist in 2008, when the company had fewer than 100 million users.

She built up Facebook’s Politics and Government Programme for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Her role includes advising political representatives, government agencies, public administrators, and think tanks on the intersection of Facebook and modern governance.

What is the conversational century?

Social Media and networking play an important role in the practice of public diplomacy. Facebook, with its individual and country pages, presents opportunities for the public diplomacy sector to engage the public audience in a number of diverse ways. This engagement is part of the conversational century.

Linder defines ‘The Conversational Century’ as the new era in leadership, where leaders are turning outwards to have conversations with the public, aided by the latest social media technology. Social media is forcing traditional institutions and influential leaders to change their communication channels and dialogue.

Traditional institutions, such as the British monarchy, are actively using social media to engage with audiences, using a personal tone to create a digital conversation. The impact of the conversational century is seen through the shifting nature of communication, from a traditional, one-way channel, to a diverse, two-channel communication channel.

Back in 2010, when there were 500 million Facebook users, politicians running for office were only just beginning to explore new technology and start the transition to ‘digital elections’. Now, there are over 2 billion Facebook users, hailing from a diverse range of backgrounds, languages, and socio-economic classes. This gives political candidates and institutes the opportunity to speak to a very broad range of people, all at once.

Conversational Century and Procurement

Procurement leaders, much like political leaders, need to embrace the Conversational Century and the power of social media, in order to engage with a wide range of people and contribute to live dialogue.

Procurement itself will play an active role in the Conversation Century. Social media platforms, such as Procurious and Facebook, offer a unique opportunity for procurement professionals to share knowledge of what is happening in procurement. Companies and industries can showcase what they have done and what they are working on to an active and engaged audience.

Furthermore, as social media is increasingly integrated into corporate life, procurement can use it to play a key role in observing and analysing all sides of the business. It can be positioned between the customer side, internal stakeholders and the supply side.

The increased visibility of data resulting from the management of social customer relationships, social internal stakeholders, and social supplier relationships, will provide procurement with information-rich data which can potentially lead to increased collaboration, agility and faster decision-making.

Want to hear more from Elizabeth Linder? She’ll be speaking about The Conversational Century at The Big Ideas Summit Melbourne. Want to join us in person to discuss the big ticket trends affecting procurement? Grab a ticket here to secure your seat!