Tag Archives: innovation

Procurement Leaders: Don’t Be A Creativity Killer

Everyone is born with a lot of creative potential. So what’s been holding us back all this time from releasing our inner creative genius?

Roberts Photography/Shutterstock.com

Register as an online delegate for the London Big Ideas Summit 2017 here.

Last week, we introduced James Bannerman as one of our Big Ideas speakers.  A creative change agent and author of Non-Fiction best-seller Genius: Deceptively Simple Ways to Become Instantly Smarter, James  firmly believes that everyone has the capacity to be creative and innovative.

To start unlocking creative genius within our procurement teams it’s important to first understand the reasons that creativity is often so lacking. What happens between childhood and adulthood that means the average person is so deterred from expressing their creative genius in the workplace? James has a good idea about what’s holding us all back and it often comes down to three things…

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It’s all too easy to get categorized by managers, colleagues and even our own self-doubt. Perhaps someone has identified you as having a particular type of creative talent but written you off in other aspects. Maybe you’ve been discounted as a creative genius altogether! Everyone has different strengths, weaknesses and areas to which they are more suited but in pigeon holing people, we are also limiting them. James believes that by labeling ourselves we are stifling our imaginations and he points out that often the best ideas come when we least expect them and from the people we least expect them from!

Organisational Structures

We’ve all had that one boss who greets every new idea with a perplexed look, a raised eyebrow or complete disinterest. Sometimes, it’s the age-old story of senior management wanting to keep things simple, avoid too much risk and a reluctance to alter the status quo.

Even within organisations who are sincere about wanting to innovate, it’s easy to discourage employees without even realising it, leaving a team of budding intrapreneurs fearful of getting it wrong or what their colleagues might say and too embarrassed to express their best and wackiest ideas. Organisations must create an environment of psychological safety that allows employees to feel comfortable to be creative even in the highly regulated environment of a workplace.

Time

Bannerman is keen to affirm that miraculous and fully-formed ideas won’t simply land at your feet. Instead, he recommends a technique called deliberate creativity:

“ If people had all the time in the world they could patiently wait for genius ideas to fall from the sky. In the real world of business, however, most people are time-poor and don’t have that luxury. That is why Edward de Bono – the author of Lateral Thinking – championed ‘deliberate creativity’.

De Bono showed us how we can use provocative mindtools to jolt the patterns of the mind, as and when required. Look at the highly-innovative organisation Pixar, for example, who appear to make great use of the Oppositions tool. If the rules of superheroes are that they have to be ‘young, fit and athletic’, for example, what do they do? They create ‘The Incredibles’.

Or if the rules are that ‘children are afraid of monsters’, what do they do ? They create ‘Monsters Inc’ where it is the monsters who are afraid of the children. Or if the last thing a chef wants in their kitchen is a rat, what do they do ? They make the rat the chef and create ‘Ratatouille’.

So if you’re looking for innovative solutions for your Procurement team or your organisational Supply Chain Management, ask yourself what might happen if you creatively questioned the habitual ‘rules’ ? The rules of cereal, for example, used to be that they were always eaten in a bowl with milk and a spoon. Questioning these rules, however, helped to inspire the invention of the ‘cereal bar’. Similarly, as Kelley of IDEO points out, for years high-jumpers used to jump forwards, but then – at the 1968 Mexico Olympics – Fosbury wondered what might happen if he deliberately jolted this pattern and jumped backwards, and now the ‘Fosbury Flop’ has become adopted around the globe.”

Join the conversation and register as a digital delegate for Big Ideas 2017 now!

Big Ideas Summit 2016: Big Idea #23 – Engaging Social Innovation

Are enough procurement professionals taking account of social impact in their work? Are they risking missing out on innovation?

At the Big Ideas Summit 2016, we challenged our thought leaders to share their Big Ideas for the future of procurement.

From ideas that have the potential to change the very nature of the procurement profession, to ones that got the assembled minds thinking about the profession’s impact outside of the organisation, the response we received was amazing.

Procurement’s Social Impact

Timo Worrall, Senior Category Manager FM EMEA at Johnson & Johnson, talks about J&J’s ‘Social Impact Through Procurement’ programme. The programme is focused on driving job creation and increasing spend with social enterprises.

Timo argues that by engaging with social enterprises, procurement is not only accessing innovation and new suppliers, but giving something meaningful back to communities.

Catch up with all the delegates’ Big Ideas from the 2016 Summit at the Procurious Learning Hub.

Want to find out more about Big Ideas 2016? And maybe what we have planned for 2017? You can visit our dedicated website!

If you like this (and you haven’t done so already) join Procurious for free today. Get connected with over 18,500 like-minded procurement professionals from across the world.

Procurement Innovation Personas Revealed: Which Are You?

Are you an ‘innovation visionary’? Or one of the other innovation ‘personas’ in procurement? Well now you can find out!

procurement innovation personas

By Daniel Ball, Director, Wax Digital.

Recent research Wax Digital has conducted has revealed that 80 per cent of procurement professionals are seeking to challenge the status quo.

However, for many their use of innovation is evolving. Fewer than one in five are seen as ‘innovation visionaries’, and many others are taking different paths.

The research shows that procurement professionals value innovation, with most working towards becoming more innovative in their role in a bid to drive the business.

Procurement Innovation Personas

However, what it also shows is that there are four distinct ‘personas’ that define how procurement professionals are driven by innovation and change.

The four different personas defining procurement innovation are:

  • High-level Visionaries

18 per cent are committed to the use of technology and using data insights to influence business innovation.

Very much about the bigger picture, they use their procurement expertise to influence top level innovation and growth, rather than being personally and practically hands on in driving that change.

  • Enlightened Activists

At 36 per cent, the most common of the ‘personas’ and the most likely to be directly driving innovation.

This group is successfully driving change and delivering business value through high technology adoption. They are focused on solving real business issues rather than departmental processes. They don’t stand still and are always on the lookout for what’s next.

  • Early Strategists

30 per cent are still sowing the early seeds of procurement innovation but realise that they have many opportunities ahead of them. Innovation is a priority, but they have some way to go before they fully embrace it.

  • Pragmatic Professionals

This final 20 per cent are less innovation focused, but still open to using it practically, to improve procurement processes. Their primary focus is on savings to the bottom line and following clear business mandates.

Seeking Value in Innovation

It’s really positive that these findings show almost all procurement professionals seeing value in innovation and involvement in it. Whether this is through changing the way they do things, or, as is increasingly the case, influencing how the business as a whole should adapt too.

While early innovators tend to be dealing with more fundamental changes, such as implementing technology for the first time, they have the biggest ambitions for innovation in the near future.

At the more experienced end of the spectrum we see a mix of procurement working hands on to drive business innovation, and senior procurement advisors consulting on the business big questions around future change.

What’s interesting is that these findings ring true with what we see working with procurement teams on a day-to-day basis. The function is shedding its stuffy and administrative reputation. It is investing in technology that integrates the whole sourcing and purchasing process, delivering valuable insight, and enabling them to be bolder in showing the business what it’s capable of.

Procurement’s path to innovation is not perfect however. There are tell-tale signs that its innovativeness could be hampered and restricted by its inherent aversion to risk.

To become real innovators, procurement professionals must foster the right business relationships, nurture the correct set of new skills and seek to break ground in their approach to technology.

If you’d like to find out which persona you are and how you can best apply innovation in your role we have created a simple quiz – What type of procurement innovator are you?

The personas are based on research conducted by MORAR Consulting with 100 senior UK procurement executives commissioned by Wax Digital.

Are Traditional Views Limiting Procurement Innovation?

Is a lack of competitiveness and a risk averse nature holding back the progress of procurement innovation? New research seems to suggest so.

New research shows that procurement is innovating and wants to do so even more in the future. However, the function’s risk averse nature, non-competitive attitude, and the prioritisation of collaboration over leadership, may be holding back its progress.

While many procurement professionals and leaders are embracing procurement innovation, many appear to be innovating within a safe environment, sticking with the things they know about, such as the supply chain.

Procurement says its ability to innovate is stifled by what others think it’s there to do, but isn’t it time that procurement stopped worrying what others perceive it as and started focusing on realising its full potential?

Limiting Procurement Innovation

Wax Digital’s new Procurement Innovation Pathway research, which surveyed 100 of the UK’s senior procurement professionals, shows that 69 per cent considered themselves pivotal to business innovation today, with 80 per cent expecting to be so in the future.

On average, 76 per cent said that they are involved in a range of business innovations, but only 27 per cent are leading them. However, 86 per cent said they want to be a part of all ongoing product innovations and service developments in the future – not only those within the procurement function.

But procurement’s view of what makes a business innovative appears to be impacted by some of its traditional risk averse thinking. Having a clear business vision (42 per cent), reacting quickly to the market and customers (33 per cent) and reviewing and improving business processes (32 per cent) were procurement’s top cited factors associated with business innovation.

Other characteristics traditionally more innovation related, however, are at the bottom of their list. Only 20 per cent cited a willingness to take risks, and 19 per cent a high investment in R&D, for example.

Procurement Innovation Barriers

Procurement identifies a number of factors stopping it innovating, most frequently other departmental views (40 per cent), lack of required skills (33 per cent) and time consuming processes (31 per cent).

And while these factors clearly play a part, there seem to be attitudinal setbacks with procurement’s own mind-set. Only 10 per cent, for example, are focused on challenging business objectives; just 14 per cent prioritise competitiveness and 18 per cent leadership as skills within their team – which they also say are declining traits.

Commenting on the research’s finding, Daniel Ball, director at Wax Digital said: “It’s fair to say that the average procurement function today is a vastly different place to what it once was. Procurement is innovating – of that there’s no doubt. But are they heading in the right direction or truly prepared to break the mould? Clear indicators of some discomfort with taking risks and really leading and driving innovation suggest it’s not yet realising its full potential in this area.

“To become real innovators, procurement professionals must overcome these issues while fostering the right business relationships, nurturing the correct new skills and seeking to break ground in their approach to technology.”

The Innovation 2016 research was conducted by Morar Consulting in March 2016, involving 100 interviews to canvass the opinions of UK senior procurement professionals working in small to large UK enterprises.

You can find out more about the research, and download the report, by visiting the Wax Digital website.