Tag Archives: Procure-with-Purpose

Talk Less, Ask More

Procurement leaders must create more opportunities to be open with the levels of the organisation below them and consistently request feedback… Talk less and ask more! “When you’re the CEO of a large organisation – or even a small one – your greatest responsibility is to recognise whether it requires a major change in direction. Indeed, no bold new course of action can be launched without your say-so. Yet your power and privilege leave you insulated – perhaps more than anyone else in the company – from information that might challenge your assumptions and allow you to perceive a looming threat or opportunity. Ironically, to do what your exalted position demands, you must in some way escape your exalted position.” – excerpt from Bursting the CEO Bubble, Hal Gregersen. Harvard Business Review, March – April 2017.

This passage stuck a chord with me and I couldn’t agree more wholeheartedly.

The majority of feedback given in organisations tends to flow in a downward direction; people in higher levels of an organisation are giving feedback to people in lower levels. People may be asked to provide feedback in the opposite direction – back to their superiors – but it is rarely given freely and without careful consideration.

I believe many people don’t give feedback to their superiors out of an instinct of fear. That is not to say they are scared of their managers, but more that there is a sense of uncertainly around how their feedback will be taken and any resulting consequences. The safer option tends to be to bite one’s tongue and keep quiet.

The impact of this behaviour is that people, or groups of people, can feel stressed or excluded, and ultimately become disengaged.

I also believe that many leaders don’t ask for feedback from lower levels of their organisation because their information “feeds” are so broad in our modern era.

CEOs have so many sources of information to consult and deal with that they are spending more and more of their time in a scanning mode rather than a deep analysis mode. Consequently, as their decision-making time is continually reduced they have to use their bias to make quicker decisions.

Important decisions in any organisation deserve careful consideration. Bias tends to work as an opposing force to this process. As the excerpt above suggests, and that I strongly agree with, our leaders  must expand on their process of discovery. They must create more opportunity to be open with the levels of the organisation below them and consistently request feedback, particularly on their own performance. Not only will staff feel listened to and more engaged, but also this process will invite alternative perspectives – alternative ideas, alternative ways of thinking, and alternative cultural outlooks.

It is this diversity of thought – the diversity of their entire organisation – that should be informing our leaders’ decision making process.

This article, by Tom Verghese,  was originally published on Cultural Synergies. 

Procure with Purpose – Join the movement

Procurious have partnered with SAP Ariba to create a global online group – Procure with Purpose.

Through Procure with Purpose, we’re shining a light on the biggest issues – from Modern Slavery; to Minority Owned Business; and from Diversity and Inclusion; to Environmental Sustainability.

Enrol here to join the Procure with Purpose group and gain instant access to our exclusive online events, including the Don’t Go Chasing Unicorns webinar, which, in part, explores the importance of diversity of thought in procurement teams. 

Procurement Professionals: Get Your Blinkers Off!

Reluctant or unsure about driving greater diversity and inclusion in your procurement teams and the organisation at large? You need to take your blinkers off!

Simon Burt/ Shutterstock

When it comes to implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace it can be difficult to know where to begin.

And perhaps you’re equally skeptical that your actions could even have a significant impact?

But when we were joined last month by Timo Worrall, Senior Category Manager, Facilities Management – Johnson & Johnson; Julie Gerdeman, General Manager, SAP Ariba and Darren Swift (Swifty), Inspirational Speaker, The Drive Project & Blesma Ambassador for our latest Procure-with-Purpose webinar all three speakers quickly put these doubts to rest…

The Facts

People with learning differences

“Just 6  per cent of young people with a learning difficulty are actually in employment which is a burden on society and for individual and their family,” explained Timo.

“These people are often willing but unable to work because we don’t give them the chance to get a foot in the door. They can’t find work because they can’t find work experience. We are often unwilling as big corporations to accept their differences. But they can do the work and they can also be very loyal. The barrier to entry isn’t them, it’s us.”

Veterans:

The Drive Project’s Veterans Work report found that three in ten businesses admit they have not even considered employing veterans. While the majority claim to be more open minded, 60 per cent of businesses rule out recruiting someone if they have no industry specific experience.

There are roughly 700,000 veterans currently in employment, over half find themselves in routine, low-skilled or low-paid jobs.

Neurodiversities 

“Individuals who are neurodiverse or on the autistic spectrum are underused source of talent with great skillsets that our leaders are seeking on their teams,” argues Julie. “There is a constant need for great talent and a unique point of view.”

Starting small is ok

“I have always been a huge advocate and proponent for diversity of thought,” explained Julie. “I’m one of nine children and so growing up I lived with lots of different opinions and personalities and thoughts and I saw the amazing environment that that created. And so I brought that with me to the workplace.

“I wanted to contribute to change. I volunteered to become the global exec sponsor for D and I at SAP Ariba. I started with a gender focus but it has evolved to become something much bigger and much broader.

“At SAP Ariba we think it’s ok to start small. It’s really ok. We started D and I [initiatives] with employees’ passions. [People who said] ‘this is what we’re passionate about.’ Welcoming and embracing personal passions into the professional workplace in a small way  blossomed into bigger, more formalised programs and from there we built a D and I framework to drive a more inclusive workplace”

As Timo explains, measuring success isn’t just about measuring numbers. “It’s easy to get bogged down in numbers and spend reports.” explained Timo. “[At Johnson & Johnson we are] trying to use story-telling and build business cases around the work we are doing. Talking about meaningful impact is a lot more powerful than just numbers.”

Take your blinkers off and crack on!

When it comes to getting started procurement teams simply need to “crack on and do it! I can promise you that you’ll find it hugely rewarding and enjoyable” asserted Timo. “I’m a firm advocate that [diversity and inclusion initiatives] change how procurement is viewed in the business and how we’re perceived.

“A social innovation agenda drives a completely different conversation with our business partners beyond that age-old savings conversation that we all get a bit bored of.

I really believe there is a massive untapped potential out there of many different groups that we don’t support as well as we should do. They can bring tremendous value and insights and different ways of doing things, often better than we can into our supply base. Get involved.”

Whilst serving in the Army in 1991, Swifty was seriously injured by a bomb. He lost both his legs, a number of his fingers and damaged his arms along with various other injuries.

Many years on and Swifty continues to live by this motto, championing individuality, pushing the boundaries of life as a double amputee and creating his own path.

“From my perspective I was lucky. I was surrounded by the right people. They were what I call “blinkers-off” people. They don’t wear blinkers. Or they’re prepared to take them off. They gave me the opp and had the right attitude to see some of the attrubutes that could be nurtured and untilised.

Broden your thinking. Take a punt on difference and diversity. Instead of always thinking you can’t ask why not, why wouldn’t we why shouldn’t, we let’s give it a go.

Unicorns are a mythical creature but they’re also a type of horse. Horses wear blinkers and they wear blinkers because it makes them go down a particular route, stops them from deviating stops them from thinking elsewhere and I quite like the idea of taking those off and having a wider vision.”

“What are the essential traits of future leader in procurement?” asked Julie.

“Is it this unicorn that ticks all the boxes. We intentionally seek a diversity of thought and a diversity of experience; different skill-sets. Because that drives innovation and that leads to great advancements.”

Procure with Purpose – Join the movement

Procurious have partnered with SAP Ariba to create a global online group – Procure with Purpose.

Through Procure with Purpose, we’re shining a light on the biggest issues – from Modern Slavery; to Minority Owned Business; and from Social Enterprises; to Environmental Sustainability.

Enrol here to join the Procure with Purpose group and gain instant access to our exclusive online events, including the Don’t Go Chasing Unicorns webinar. 

Disabled Does Not Mean Disqualified: Challenge Your Perceptions of Ability

How can procurement professionals make disability work in the workplace? 

This blog was written by Julie Gerdeman, General Manager, SAP Ariba. 


One of the greatest joys of my work at SAP Ariba is the opportunity to wear more than one hat; not only heading up our payments business but also serving as the executive sponsor of our diversity and inclusion efforts. At the core of our D&I strategy is an aspiration to build an inclusive culture around the customer, innovation, and employee experience to enable us to become the most diverse company in the cloud.

Recently, I had the honor of hosting SAP Ariba’s popular Diversity and Inclusion luncheon at Ariba Live Amsterdam. This year’s theme, Rising Above the Impossible, focused on the importance of disability inclusion and leveraging accessible technology for better business outcomes because SAP Ariba recognizes them as important to the future of the workplace. For the event we assembled disability inclusion experts from different parts of the globe, and I had the great pleasure to get to know a group of phenomenal and courageous women, including our keynote speaker Nicky Abdinor (Nicky’s Drive) and panelists Lesa Bradshaw (Bradshaw LeRoux), Tania Seary (Procurious), Susan Scott-Parker (BDI), and Stefanie Nennstiel (SAP). I’d like to share with you three nuggets of wisdom from my discussion with them that has left a lasting impression:

1. “If You’ve Got the Drive, the Destination Is Up to You.”

I will never forget Nicky Abdinor, a clinical psychologist, who touched our hearts and minds as she challenged all perceptions around ability with her core message to focus on what you can do versus what’s you can’t. She graciously shared her personal story of overcoming her disability by focusing on her ability to create sustainable change in her attitude, beliefs, and emotions to achieve the possible. She shared her mantra with the audience: “If you’ve got the drive, the destination is up to you.” I thought this was a great takeaway we can all relate to and apply in our lives because no matter if the disability is visible or invisible, we all have the power within us to choose to achieve the possible.

2. “Make Disability Work in the Workplace”

The talent pipeline and impact on the future of procurement is top-of-mind for our Procurement professionals. I see now more than ever that a diverse workforce is imperative for a business to survive in the digital era and is a topic that all our audiences want to discuss.

Our panelists were candid and offered some practical advice for all to use when they returned to their businesses, particularly around “making disability work in the workplace.” Companies must commit to building an inclusive culture that allows all employees, not just the perceived majority, to thrive at work. This begins with recruiting and retaining diverse talent.

At SAP Ariba, we are building our strong foundation by empowering employees to uncover their unconscious biases, which we all carry as human beings, and learning to eliminate bias from decision-making for better outcomes with our Business Beyond Bias training program. In addition, the panelists encouraged the audience to ensure their companies develop a disability and inclusion strategy to empower managers to make intentional decisions around reasonable accommodations that allow everyone the same opportunity to perform their job responsibilities. For example, SAP Ariba has made the intentional decision to participate in the Autism at Work Program because we value neurodiversity and are seeking a specific set of skills to enhance our workforce to widen our perspective on the business. Our disability and inclusion strategy enables our managers to go beyond traditional sources of talent, and this has made a positive impact in our overall employee morale.

From experience, we know that innovations often originate from unlikely sources.

3. Accessible Technology Can Make a Real Difference

Another critical component that enhances the success of disability and inclusion efforts is accessible technologies. The benefits extend from the home to the workplace, as accessible technologies transform the way people with disabilities contribute and thrive. They serve as a tremendous equalizer leading to retention, development and advancement. At SAP Ariba, we are deeply committed to ensuring that accessible technologies are integrated into our business.  We are amplifying this approach by promoting the importance of accessible technologies among buyers and suppliers and buyers on the Ariba Network.

The Important Role of Procurement

Procurement leaders play an important role in bringing visibility to the value of a supplier diversity strategy that can increase competitive advantage through an inclusive supply chain, offering opportunities to underrepresented suppliers. By now, we are all familiar with the research that shows companies that embrace diversity are more profitable. If you haven’t already, I recommend reading The 2018 Delivery Through Diversity Report by McKinsey for the latest data and insights.

As I reflect on my wonderful experience learning from our knowledgeable disability and inclusion experts, I feel hopeful and encouraged with the opportunities available to procurement professionals to make a positive contribution toward building an inclusive workforce and a diverse supply chain. Ultimately, as we embrace business with a purpose, the ability to contribute toward the greater good of society fuels my passion for leading and implementing diversity and inclusion within procurement.

Julie Gerdeman is GM and Global Head of Payments & Financing at SAP Ariba. 

Don’t Go Chasing Procurement Unicorns

Trying to build a team of procurement unicorns? You might just want to re-think your strategy…

What makes a procurement unicorn?

They’ve got the grades, the qualifications and years of relevant experience. They tick off every core procurement skill in the book and they’ve worked for some big-name companies.

In short; on paper, they’re perfect.

If you’re self-proclaimed unicorn hunter, you’re probably hoping to fill your entire procurement team with a herd of these mythical creatures. Because you think that’s what’s best for your business…

And that’s where you’d be very wrong. Because in today’s world, Unicorn = Uniform!

With this narrow outlook on your recruitment processes, you run the risk of missing out on extraordinary talents.

It’s impossible to know the unique skills, experience and perspective that a potential hire can bring to your team if you don’t open your mind to their many differences and diversities.

In our upcoming webinar Don’t Go Chasing Unicorns we’ll be celebrating individuality. Join us on 18th July as we explore how organisations can better accommodate people  who are differently abled; whether it’s those with physical disabilities or people who are neuro-diverse.

We’ll be discussing:

  • The importance and benefits of recruiting and retaining differently-abled people to your teams
  • Why it is such terrible idea to set your sights on procurement unicorns!
  • How  procurement pros can help to build truly diverse teams and foster a workplace environment that is inclusive to everyone?
  • How are some of the biggest organisations making the workplace inclusive and accessible for everyone?

Who is speaking on the webinar?

Tania Seary, Founder – Procurious

A true procurement entrepreneur, Tania is the Founding Chairman of Procurious, The Faculty and The Source. Throughout her career, Tania has been wholly committed to raising the profile of the procurement profession and connecting its leaders.

After finishing her MBA at Pennsylvania State University, Tania became one of Alcoa’s first global commodity managers.

In 2016, Tania was recognised by IBM as a #NewWaytoEngage Futurist and named “Influencer of the Year” by Supply Chain Dive. She hosts regular procurement webinars, and presents at high-profile events around the world.

Darren Swift

In 1991 Swifty was injured by a terrorist attack that resulted in him loosing both his legs above the knee. During his extensive rehab he made a decision to not let his injury affect his life or career going forward.

Since then Swifty has gone on to achieve a huge amount including becoming the first ever double above knee amputee solo skydiver and snowboarder. Swifty’s unique and inspiring story demonstrates the need for employers to be open minded when hiring as without this outlook they could miss out on an extraordinary talent!

Timo Worrall, Senior Category Manager, Facilities Management – Johnson & Johnson

Timo is responsible for the procurement of Facility Services across J&J’s global portfolio, including leading recent initiatives in EMEA and APAC. He is a key part of the team that has implemented the ‘Social Impact through Procurement’ initiative through the J&J business in the UK, including driving the introduction of Social Enterprises into the facilities supply base. It is this work with social enterprises that will help J&J reach its target of a £15 million of social value spend by 2020.

Timo’s work includes contracting a 3 per cent social value target into two regional FM contracts, that will deliver £3 Million of social value across Europe and Asia. Timo believes passionately about the impact that big business can have on impacting the lives of those disadvantaged in our society. He lives in Woking, Surrey, with his wife and two children.

Julie Gerdeman, General Manager, SAP Ariba

Julie Gerdeman is GM Payments & Financing at SAP Ariba. In this role, she is responsible for all aspects of the company’s strategy and execution to transform global B2B payments.Prior to this role, Ms. Gerdeman led the SAP Ariba Digital Transformation Organisation. This team of 100+ advisors lead SAP Ariba’s delivery of customer value: from identification, to enablement through realisation.

Before joining SAP Ariba, she held various leadership positions in sales, customer success and marketing at J.P. Morgan Chase and American Express.Ms. Gerdeman holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College and lives with her family in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. She is a member of the board of directors for Apparent Financing, an SAP.io funded start-up that leverages data from the Ariba Network to facilitate financing to small business suppliers. Ms. Gerdeman is also the global executive sponsor for Diversity & Inclusion at SAP Ariba and speaks and blogs frequently on this topic.

How do I register for the webinar?

Registering for Don’t Go Chasing Unicorns couldn’t be easier (and, of course, it’s FREE!)

Click here to enter your details and confirm your attendance. We’ll send you a email with a link to the webinar platform in the run up to the event.

I’m already a member of Procurious, do I still need to register?

Yes! If you are already a member of Procurious you must still enroll to access the webinar. We’ll send you a email with a link to the webinar platform in the run up to the event.

When is it taking place?

The webinar will take place at 10am EDT/ 3pm BST on 18th July 2018

Help! I can’t make it to the live-stream

No problem! If you can’t make the live-stream you can catch up whenever it suits you. We’ll be making it available on Procurious soon after the event (and will be sure to send you a link) so you can listen at your leisure!

Can I ask a question?

If you’d like to ask one of our speakers a question please submit it via the Discussion Board on Procurious and we’ll do our very best to ensure it gets answered for you.

Our webinar,  Don’t Go Chasing Unicorns, takes place at 10am EDT/ 3pm BST on 18th July 2018. Register your attendance for FREE here. 

5 Organisations That Are Fighting Plastic

The war against plastic is not all doom and gloom. Thankfully, the world’s biggest corporations are waking up to the reality that big change has to happen… and soon!

In last week’s Procurious blog we explored the threats currently facing The Great Barrier Reef – reporting on the eight million tons of plastic that enters our oceans every year and the prediction that by 2050 there will more plastic in the ocean than fish.

It’s hard not to be horrified by some of the images emerging that demonstrate the impact of plastics on our oceans, our beaches and  our wildlife. No one could forget, for example, Justin Hofman’s photograph of a seahorse clinging to a discarded cotton bud – a  painfully stark image.

Last month National Geographic launched their new initiative, Planet or Plastic – the focus of their June publication and a multiyear effort to raise awareness about the global plastic waste crisis and encourage readers to take the pledge to help reduce single-use plastics.

“More than 5 trillion pieces of plastic are already floating in our oceans.”

National Geographic, Planet or Plastic 

It can seem like a hopeless situation. But, as their campaign highlights, there is so much you can do both as an individual and as part of your organisation to impart real change.

And the situation is looking hopeful. Across the globe, the biggest corporations are waking up to the reality that big change has to happen with regard to their use of plastics. More and more of our restaurants, bars, theatres and cinemas are removing plastic straws from the offering and a number of big supermarkets have promised to make all plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. 

Today, as we approach World Ocean’s Day on 8th June,  we’ve highlighted a handful of corporations who are doing some inspiring work to tackle plastic pollution.

Their inspiring campaigns prove that solving the plastics problem is both a challenge and an opportunity for organisations to lead the way in finding innovative solutions.

1. Pret a Manger

Pret a Manger is consistently recognised for its efforts towards sustainable, socially conscious. The organisation is well known for offering all of its unsold produce to homeless people and recently introduced a 50p discount for customers bringing in there own reusable cups.

In October 2017 Pret a Manger’s CEO, Clive Schlee, penned a blog for the sandwich shop’s website entitled “What if Pret stopped selling plastic water bottles?”

Schlee explains that Pret a Manger are striving to make it as easy as possible for customers to use fewer plastic bottles “All of our Veggie Pret and Manchester shops will now be encouraging customers to fill up their bottles for free using new filtered water stations. These shops will also start selling reusable plastic bottles alongside our regular water bottles, so the choice is clear.”

In February 2018 Pret a Manger announced they would be trialling a 10p cash back scheme for plastic bottles.

The company will add 10p to the cost of its plastic bottles which will be refunded to customers when they bring the bottle back. Any unclaimed deposits will be invested in their sustainability work.

Pret a Manger have also pledged to make all their plastic packaging use by 2025 100 per cent recyclable, reusable or compostable.

2. Whole Foods

Supermarket chain Whole Foods has been backing the no-plastics horse for some time.

In 2008 they made the switch from plastic to paper bags in all of their stores and they have consistently committed to reducing plastics by offering biodegradable alternatives for plates, cutlery and other food takeout items.

At some or all of their stores, Whole Foods are doing the following:

  • Using reusable dishes and flatware in dining areas
  • Reclaimed wood, bricks and other materials in construction
  • Printing and packaging using recycled paper and water- or vegetable-based
  • Collection bins for batteries, printer cartridges, cell phones, corks, plastic bags and toothbrushes
  • Composting to decrease landfill waste

3. Timberland

Last year, Timberland unveiled a line of products developed with Thread’s Ground to Good™ fabric, harvested from plastic bottles littering the streets and landfills of Haiti.

To date, over 1300 Haitians have collected and recycled 765, 280 plastic bottles.

“At Timberland, we’re constantly seeking innovative ways to create both social and environmental value, and are excited to continue making a difference in Haiti and in all the communities where we live, work and explore,” said Colleen Vien, sustainability director for Timberland. “Our collaboration with Thread has proven to be a meaningful way for us to grow our work in Haiti and generate social value for the people behind our products. We’ve embraced the opportunity to share their unique stories with our consumers, because this collection is about so much more than a boot. A Timberland X Thread boot represents real change – it helps create jobs, restore communities and build futures.”

4. Sky

Sky launched Sky Ocean Rescue in 2017 to shine a spotlight on the issues affecting ocean health, find innovative solutions to the problem of ocean plastics, and inspire people to make small everyday changes that collectively make a huge difference.

Partnering with WWF, Sky have committed £25 million to help find innovative solutions to reduce plastics and pledged to eliminate all single-use plastics from their operations, products and supply chain by 2020.

They’re also running a successful online campaign to encourage consumers to #PassonPlastic

5. Dell

In December 2017 Dell announced that it would be launching the world’s first commercial-scale, ocean-bound plastics supply chain, which takes ocean-bound plastics and repurposes it for their packaging.

“When Dell uses plastics from the beach, shorelines, waterways and coastal areas, we bring them back into the economy and stop them from breaking down and becoming part of a bigger problem.

It gives us an affordable resource, creates jobs for the recyclers, provides a template for others to follow and helps put a dent in the vast problem of plastics entering the ocean.”

In partnership with The Lonely Whale Foundation, Dell have helped convene Next Wave, an open-source initiative that brings leading technology and consumer-focused companies together to develop a commercial-scale ocean-bound plastics and nylon supply chain.

The group anticipates that they will divert more than 3 million pounds of plastic and nylon-based fishing gear from entering the ocean within 5 years – the equivalent of keeping 66 million water bottles from washing out to sea.

We’d love to know what your organisation is doing to reduce the use of plastics. Tell us in the comments below!

Procure with Purpose

Procurious have partnered with SAP Ariba to create a global online group – Procure with Purpose.

Through Procure with Purpose, we’re shining a light on the biggest issues – from Modern Slavery; to Minority Owned Business; and from Social Enterprises; to Environmental Sustainability.

Click here to enroll and gain access to  all future Procure with Purpose events including exclusive content, online events and regular webinars.  

Driving Change The Procurement Way

At yesterday’s London CPO Roundtable we explored how procurement teams can drive big change in their organisations whether it’s through Brexit policy, implementing cognitive technology or smart hiring…

When was the last time you took a wild punt in your hiring process?

Is your procurement team under more pressure than ever to cut costs?

How can CPOs make the business case for cognitive technology to their CFO?

Will there be a second EU Referendum?

These are just some of the questions we discussed when we gathered a dozen procurement leaders in London yesterday for a CPO roundtable sponsored by IBM.

We discussed the implications of Brexit and how procurement professionals are preparing, how procurement can make sure its cognitive projects come out on top in the battle for capital and  why employers need to be far more open minded when hiring new talent.

Surviving the Perfect Storm

Nick Ford, Co-founder – Odesma gave us an overview of his organisation’s latest Brexit survey; Surviving a Perfect Storm.

Many would argue that Brexit is the biggest negotiation to ever  take place in UK, but the path ahead is still very unclear. And that’s presenting some major challenges for procurement teams.

Indeed, 45 per cent of Odesma’s survey respondents (300+ procurement executives primarily from the UK/EU ) admitted that Brexit was hampering their procurement strategy and 82 per cent claim that they have felt under more pressure to reduce costs for third party good and services.

Nick highlighted some of the changes procurement departments are attempting to implement in order to prepare for life post-Brexit:

  • Contingency Planning – including managing an mitigating risk, moving supply chain out of Europe etc. : 27 per cent
  • Investigating new suppliers:  9 per cent
  • Re-negotiating contracts with existing suppliers: 9 per cent
  • Reviewing country location for procurement operation: 6 per cent
  • Re-evaluating inbound supply chain: 6 per cent 
  • No changes to supplier base: 15 per cent

On a positive note, 73 per cent of procurement professionals believe their organisation sees procurement as an important part of its post-Brexit preparation process. As Nick highlighted, it is a fantastic opportunity for re-negotiation of supplier contracts, a chance to do a thorough supplier clean- up or develop new suppliers entirely and it gives your organisation a competitive advantage if your procurement team is in good shape – given that only 40 per cent of businesses have  started putting plans in place to prepare for brexit.

Read more from Nick Ford on how procurement can prepare for a post-Brexit world.  

The Battle For Capital

In the battle for capital, how does procurement ensure its cognitive projects come out on top?

Amit Sharma, Global Procurement Practice Leader for Cognitive Process Services (CPS) -IBM addressed how difficult it is for procurement leaders to communicate the need for, and value of, cognitive technology to their business.

“The problem for procurement” he argued “is that the CPO doesn’t always have the authority to drive transformation. It depend on lots of other people and that stops them from driving change.”

“For procurement, maintaining our relevance to the organisation beyond cost savings is imperative. [procurement pros] need to embed the latest in technology as best practise into the business as it will free up our time and help us to move from transactional to strategic management.”

The logic is unquestionable.  We know the sophistication of AI is going to come. It’s a question of when, not if. But when it comes to making the leap to cognitive, which can do a world of good for analytical and predictive analysis, organisations are still hesitant.

The CPOs in attendance were in agreement; citing short-termism, lack of buy-in from the CFO and a limited understanding in the business about cognitive technology.

Procurement needs to make the business case for how cognitive can add long-term value and, as Amit reminded us, “If you’re not convinced, you can’t convince someone else”

Brexit: What Happens Now?

Professor Anand Menon, Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs, Kings College led a session discussing the long-term causes of Brexit and their future implications.

“Hand on heart I don’t know [what’ going to happen] – if i could answer that I’d be rich and famous!”

It’s the most uncertain moment in British politics since World War Two and what’s striking is that,  two years on from the referendum, nothing has been decided.

A key reason for such uncertainty  is the nature of the referendum itself.  As Anand explained, the referendum packaged so many different options and outcomes  into a binary choice; leave or remain.  No one understood quite what they were signing up for and since the results Brexit has largely been defined by whichever adjective most aptly applies to specific people or groups; black brexit; white brexit; hard brexit; soft brexit; white red and blue brexit… the list goes on.

Does the UK want to establish a relationship with the EU like Norway, like North Korea or will they define something wholly new.

Anand admits that due to the Brexit process being so complex and all-consuming, there is no avoiding a messy process. What goes on throughout the next couple of years will largely be determined by politics.

  1. Theresa May

The UK Prime Minister relatively quickly defined what she meant by Brexit (leave cutoms market,end free movement etc) and her position has remained relatively unchanged since. Whilst she is unpopular with many in her party, it is unlikely her critics will choose to get rid of her yet. As long as she in place, she is a powerful force for stability.

2. The Conservative Government

There is a significant number of Tory MPs who want a much softer Brexit than the Prime Minister is proposing so it’s possible they will vote against May’s Brexit deal. However, if May loses this vote there is no question that she has to go; after all, her whole mission as Prime Minister is Brexit. If that happens, the Conservative Party will either elect a new leader or the UK will face a new general election. And the one thing no Tories want is another general election.

3. The Labour Government 

In the last general election, Labour picked up votes from both remainers and leavers. As such, the party have been careful to keep their Brexit policies ambiguous. Whenever Corbyn speaks about Brexit, he speaks in ambiguities.

Ultimately the real danger for the UK’s economy, Anand warns, is that the negotiations go pear shaped, the UK crashes out of the EU in March 2019 and they end up with no wiggle room to extend the UK’s transition period.

His advice to procurement organisations trying to prepare? Plan for a World Trade Organisation outcome from 2021 – “That, I think, is the most likely outcome.”

The Drive Project

The Drive Project is an award-winning, creative social enterprise. They work alongside charities and businesses to inspire and empower people with creative projects, training and talks. We were joined by one of their speakers Darren Swift (“Swifty”).

On 25th May 1991 Swifty was injured by a terrorist attack that resulted in him losing both his legs above the knee.

Within seconds of being hit by an IRA coffee jar bomb he went, he jokes, from being 6 foot 2 to 4 foot 6; his left leg completely gone and his right hanging on by a thread.

During his extensive rehab, when he was forced to confront his new reality, Swifty made the decision to not let his injury affect his life or career going forward.

Since then Swifty has gone on to achieve a huge amount including taking up skydiving, becoming the first ever double above knee amputee snowboarder and taking up a career as an actor. Swifty’s unique and inspiring story reminded us that employers need to be far more open minded when hiring new talent.

When it comes to hiring our organisations need to be ‘blinkers off’ people; asking ‘why not?’, rather than having a ‘you can’t’ attitude. You don’t know what’s possible with a potential hire until you take a punt and give them a chance.

Without this outlook employers could miss an extraordinary talent.

As Emily Shaw, Director- The Drive Project,  pointed out “[We should] give people a chance not to be a victim – because they can achieve so much more.”

Find out more about The Drive Project and the amazing work they do here. 

How To Free Your Decisions From Bias

It’s not easy to free yourself and others from decision bias. But the pay off for your organisation is worth it…

A CEO mentioned recently to me his frustration with a few of his Senior Leaders who play the ‘merit card’ whenever diversity is raised. In doing so, they stymie good initiatives. Each small block they construct rebuilds the wall as fast as the CEO and supportive leaders tear it down. ‘What can I do?’ he asked. I shared his pain: invoking the ‘merit card’ is a wicked, if effective, tactic for, paradoxically, subverting merit and keeping control.

The CEO and his leaders have an awareness of unconscious bias and know a bit about how it works. Until recently unconscious bias was heralded as the holy grail for achieving significant improvement in diversity and inclusion outcomes. But the value of unconscious bias training in particular, and diversity training in general, is being challenged.

Dobbin & Kalev’s influential article ‘Why diversity programs fail’ importantly identified that command and control approaches, adopted by many organisations, backfire. You can’t get people to change by telling them to. And you don’t get people to change by blaming them for doing the wrong thing.

Making training about beliefs and preferences mandatory is almost guaranteed to fail. That’s because suppressing unconscious beliefs, to ‘do what’s expected’, is  well-known to make bias more, not less, likely. And that’s the danger with these senior leaders who play the ‘merit card’; their biases may increase rather than decrease.

Unconscious bias awareness is not a silver bullet, it is however, worthwhile. It’s not easy to free yourself and others from decision bias, so what will make it worth the CEO’s effort? You can’t work with it effectively if you don’t understand it. And it’s how you work with it that counts. 

Debias by accepting your fallibility

At an individual level, part of the work is to accept your own fallibility. We are susceptible to many types of bias, that cover all sorts of decisions. Frustratingly, because these biases operate unconsciously, we can’t really know when we are in their grip. And our bias for overconfidence means that we tend to think that our decisions are much better than they are. So, we’re not actually very likely to think we’re biased. It’s bit of a Catch-22.

The most practical approach is to be aware of the tendency towards overconfidence. Be more modest, less certain, about your decisions. Whether or not you know you are biased matters less than accepting that you are likely to be biased.

Leaders who play the ‘merit card’ probably suffer certainty bias, they don’t think they are biased. They don’t like the suggestion they have a ‘weakness’ like ‘bias’. Without that openness, their decisions remain narrow. Feelings of certainty are biases themselves. It’s when we feel most certain that we are most likely to be unsystematic, think we know, circumvent objective methods, or neglect to ask for alternatives.

If you accept that you are likely to be biased you are more likely to act to mitigate against bias. And that, currently, seems to get the best results.

Biases show up in:

  • What we notice
  • What we expect
  • What we ask, and
  • What we value.

What we notice

Collectively, we are getting much better at noticing gender-participation differences by industry and occupation. When we take the time to collect and examine the data about, for example, pay, it transpires that there are often gaps that can only be attributed to gender.  When we notice the difference, we can act on the difference.

At the individual level, what we notice has a big impact on careers.

Letters of recommendation for male academics emphasise research skills, publications and career aspirations, which are the ‘get ahead’ characteristics. Whereas teaching skills, practical clinical skills and personal attributes, the ‘get along’ characteristics, are more often identified for females.

Women scientists’ early career advancement is hindered, even when they have the same qualifications as male scientists. Male and female faculty make biased hiring decisions, preferring male candidates over female. Their capabilities are noticed differently. Male candidates are seen as more competent, more worthy of mentoring and deserving of a higher salary than female candidates.

Notice what you notice

Set yourself a noticing challenge. Pair yourself up with someone of the opposite gender, with whom you will be interacting regularly throughout a designated day. Commit to taking observations during the day. Each half hour, record what you have observed in terms of interpersonal interactions.

At the end of the day, compare your notes with each other.

What do you notice about who takes what kinds of actions, and what is the impact of their actions on others? What’s similar in your observations, and what’s different?

What we expect

We expect men to be ambitious and we don’t expect women to be. This erodes women’s ability to express their ambition. In numerous professions, from policing to medicine and science, women begin with the same levels of ambition as do men. Yet, while men’s ambition increases over time, women’s decreases. Because women are constantly fighting structural barriers, their ambition often wanes.

We expect men to be competent and women supportive. A recent European study reviewed 125 applications for venture capital funding. Forty-seven percent of women’s applications, versus 62% of men’s, were funded. Women applied for and received less funding.

There were four distinct differences in the language used to assess applications:

  • Women were described as needing support, men as assertive.
  • Women were not described as entrepreneurs but as growing a business to escape unemployment. Superlatives were used about men’s fit with entrepreneurship and risk taking.
  • Women’s credibility was questioned, men’s was not.
  • Women were seen to lack competence, experience and knowledge; men to be innovative and impressive.

Expectations about how men and women should behave were carried over into evaluations which then affected their relative success.

Disrupt your expectations

What happens if you disrupt your expectations regarding ambition and competence? What if you spent a day imagining all the women you engage with are ambitious, competent and want to get ahead? Imagine the men with whom you engage want to provide support and take a back seat.

If our Senior Leaders imagined that the men in their teams wanted to leave work to pick up the kids from school and prepare dinner, how would they think about their next career move?

What we ask

The group of researchers involved in the VC funding example above observed the full application process. They concluded that the questions that were asked undermined women’s potential, but underpinned men’s.

A recent US study found a similar kind of bias. In a start-up funding competition, venture capitalists (VCs) were much more likely to ask male entrepreneurs promotion-oriented questions. They focused on ideals, achievements and advancement. By contrast, VCs asked females entrepreneurs prevention-oriented questions. These questions focused on vigilance, responsibility, risk and safety. Male-led start-ups raised five times the funding of females. Consistent with what we know about unconscious bias, the research found that male and female VCs displayed the same questioning biases.  It is often assumed that men favour men and women favour women; increasing the number of women on selection panels is routinely seen as the solution. Yet unconscious biases about gender are held as commonly by women as by men. While simply increasing the number of female decision makers does make balanced decision making more likely, it does not guarantee it. However, when panels have gender balance, or are female only, bias tends to disappear.

Question what you ask

 How might you disrupt the kinds of questions you ask men and women? Do you ask men and women the same questions? What happens when you do?

Imagine our Senior Leaders asked men and women the same questions they ask women. What would they learn?

What we value

Johnson & Johnson, which fields about 1 million job applications for over 25,000 job openings each year, now uses Textio to debias their job ads. When they first started using it they found that their job ads were skewed with masculine language. They were disproportionately valuing male characteristics. Their pilot program to change the language in their ads resulted in a 9% increase in female applicants.

Even when managers and decision-makers espouse a commitment to gender equality and a desire to promote more women into leadership positions, they are prone to evaluate women less positively

By deliberately analysing and structuring how information is conveyed and options are presented, it can become easier to make fairer decisions.

Women are commonly demoted to traditional gender roles. Forty-five percent of women in one study have been asked to make the tea in meetings. Some were CEO at the time. Female doctors are often mistaken for nurses, female lawyers for paralegals and female professionals of many kinds for personal assistants.  We do not expect women to hold senior roles, despite the fact that, increasingly, they do.

Student evaluations of teaching appear to be influenced similarly. Even in an online course where the gender of the instructor was manipulated so that identical experiences were provided to students, those students who believed they had a female teacher provided significantly lower teaching evaluations. While these lower ratings misrepresent actual competency, they nevertheless may create a self-fulfilling prophesy where women’s career advancement choices begin to conform to the stereotype. And erroneous beliefs about women’s competency levels limit the opportunities that are provided to them; the misrepresentations are perpetuated.

Put the value back into evaluation

Debias evaluation by using blind, automated processes. Take human bias and error out, and increase the value of the decisions you are making.

Would our Senior Leaders be prepared to do this? Would they be prepared to take themselves out of the equation? Would they believe an objective merit-based process could occur for a decision in which they have an interest, but in which they were not involved?

Put it all together

People are responsible for their own minds. Our CEO has provided opportunities for his senior leaders to engage with curiosity, respect and candour in their diversity programs. There are some wonderful stories emerging.

The challenge for those who don’t yet get it, is to agree to the overarching purpose that people decisions are based on merit. If merit is what we are aiming for, we should all be prepared to sign-up for practices and tools that increase and uphold it. Will they do this?

But merit is both more and less than it seems. It is more complex and difficult to define than most people think. It is less objective and rigorous, particularly in knowledge work and leadership roles. It is ripe for bias. Paradoxically, invoking merit is perhaps the most powerful way to subvert it.

It’s time for Senior Leaders to throw away the ‘merit card’; their people deserve a fairer hand.

Eroding merit corrodes culture, and culture is where the CEO leaves his biggest legacy. What can he do? To leave a lasting legacy, the CEO knows he needs to call out the fallacy of the ‘merit card’ and hold his Senior Leaders to account for fair people decisions. He can help them to exit the organisation if they are not prepared to play a fair hand.

If the Senior Leaders are prepared to admit to fallibility, to be aware that they may notice and value the behaviours of different groups of people in different ways, there are many practices that will make sure bias is minimised and fairer decisions are made.

We can all keep working to debias our decisions.

What to do if you believe in merit:

  1. Accept your fallibility – be more modest, less certain about your decisions.
  2. Notice what you notice – record what you notice and assess it for fairness.
  3. Disrupt your expectations – imagine women are ambitious and men supportive.
  4. Question what you ask – ask the same questions of everyone.
  5. Put the value back into evaluation – by using blind processes.

Can Procurement Help Turn This Sea Turtle’s Frown Upside Down?

Think saving The Great Barrier Reef is out of your hands or entirely irrelevant to you? Think again! Climate change is everyone’s problem and we can all make a difference; down to the last procurement pro!

If you’re lucky enough to have travelled to the coast of Queensland, Australia and visited The Great Barrier Reef, you’ll agree that it is a true wonder to behold.

At 2,300km long it is the largest living thing on earth (roughly the size of Italy or the equivalent of 70 million football fields) and home to an incredible range of wildlife from dozens of species of fish, to sea turtles, to dolphins and so much more.

“It is one of the greatest, and most splendid natural treasures that the world possesses.”- Sir David Attenborough

But it’s under serious threat from a number of environmental factors and it’s everyone’s job to save it; not least procurement’s. We caught up with Anna Marsden, Managing Director – Great Barrier Reef Foundation to learn more about what’s at stake and what we, as professionals, can do to help.

Three factors threatening the Great Barrier Reef

  1. Climate Change

Tropical sea surface temperatures have risen by 0.4–0.5 °C since the late 19th century. In unnaturally warm conditions coral becomes stressed and agitated, leading it to expel the algae that gives it its colour and eventually bleaching. Whilst bleached coral is not yet dead, it is an indicator of severe stress. And if the sea temperature is consistently high for longer than 30 days; it will eventually die. “Look in your garden on a hot day or even a hot week” explains Anna.  “Your plants will start to wilt and eventually, if the temperatures don’t decline, they will perish.” The effect that extreme heat has on a coral reef is much the same.

“Other ways we are seeing climate change playing out is in extreme weather. In recent years there have been more Category 5 cyclones than ever before which are hugely damaging; destroying and weakening the reef’s structure.”

“The reef has always had natural foes and challenges, but this is the first time it’s at such a scale” Anna explains.

  1. Water Quality

Declining water quality is recognised as one of the most significant threats to the long-term health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef. 

“So much waste washes into our oceans – extra soil, extra fertiliser etc which is making it extremely dirty. And nothing grows well in dirt!” Anna asserts. “Whilst bad water quality itself isn’t a life-ending challenge for the Great Barrier Reef, it does reduce the resilience of the system and, on top of everything else going on, it’s a big problem.”

  1. The Crown-of-Thorns Starfish

Increasing sediment, nutrients and contaminants entering coastal waters has been linked to outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish, a species which, Anna jokes, “belong in an alien movie!”

“They munch on the coral, each one managing to consume a dinner plate’s worth of it every couple of days. Excess nutrients from sugar cane farms amplifies their breeding patterns.”

Why should procurement teams care?

‘At what price?’ a recent Deloitte report, which investigated the economic, social and icon value of the Great Barrier Reef estimated  its worth at $56 billion; taking into account tourism, fishing, marine science and research. The study also calculated that the reef has resulted in the employment of over 64,000 Australians between 2015–16.

So it’s undeniable that there is real, and huge, value in the Great Barrier Reef – it’s genuinely worth salvaging.

But it can also be usefully thought of as the, slightly harrowing, poster-child for climate change. It’s understandably difficult for procurement professionals around the world to understand the impact their actions are having in terms of climate change and the polluting of our oceans. But the sorts of changes and damages reported by the Great Barrier Reef foundation are mirrored across the world’s oceans.

Take plastic pollution as an example; eight million tons of plastic enter our oceans each year and it’s predicted that by 2050, there will more plastic in the ocean than fish.

What can businesses do?

“Ultimately we need to start moving faster towards a renewable energy environment,” explains Anna. “There’s no single cause in this and there are roles that all businesses can play”

Fortunately, a number of big corporations are helping to provide innovative solutions to protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

“At present divers are hand-shooting crown of thorns starfish with a saline solution, which is an extremely slow process.”

But a robot being developed through a Great Barrier Reef Foundation project partnership with Google and the Queensland University of Technology, aptly named ‘RangerBot’ has the capability to do the work of 50 divers per day. It works 24/7 and can function in choppy waters. “One day soon we’ll be able to drop six of them into an infested area and come back to collect them only when their work of culling the starfish in that area is done!”

Another inspiring example of corporations doing good for the Reef is Rio Tinto’s RTM Wakmatha vessel that has been dubbed the ‘ship of opportunity’.  Rio Tinto invested in a laboratory on their ship which collects vital data as the ship travels along the Queensland coast in the ordinary course of business. This data is used to gain insights as to how ocean chemistry is changing across reef habitats.

Another cool tech solution is a polymer-based sun shield that hangs together in the water for about two days after deployment, forming an umbrella and cutting out 30 per cent of UV light to protect the coral. Made of calcium carbonate, the sun shield is 100 per cent biodegradable and is absorbed back into the system once it has dissolved.

What can YOU do?

As hard as it is to know how to effect real change, there are small things we as individuals can do, and encourage our organisations to do. Banning single-use plastic bags, cycling to work or using keep-cups are all small and immediate positive changes we can make.

Further to that, procurement pros should ask themselves – what can I do with the purchasing power in our company?

As Anna points out, “climate change is about our relationship with the planet. We all make decisions that drive it, we all have a role to play in this.”

“One of our corporate partners is Cleanaway – Australia’s leading waste management, recycling and industrial services company.”

Cleanaway work with big businesses to ensure sustainability is as the core of waste-sorting and encourage the adoption of reusable resources.

About the Great Barrier Reef Foundation

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation exists to ensure a Great Barrier Reef for future generations. We seek out the solutions and innovations that will also benefit coral reefs globally as they tackle the same threats and challenges facing the world’s largest coral reef.

“Our focus in the short term is on boosting the resilience of the Reef to allow it to bounce back from major challenges as a result of a changing climate and declining water quality. We’re buying the Reef time while the world works to meet the conditions of the Paris Agreement.”

Read more here. 


Procure with Purpose

Procurious have partnered with SAP Ariba to create a global online group – Procure with Purpose.

Through Procure with Purpose, we’re shining a light on the biggest issues – from Modern Slavery; to Minority Owned Business; and from Social Enterprises; to Environmental Sustainability.

Last month’s webinar on modern slavery,  Procurement Unchained, will soon be made available on-demand via the Procure with Purpose group on Procurious. Click here to enroll and gain access to this and all subsequent Procure with Purpose events. 

Always Let Procurement Be Your Guide…

As we move from the age of mandate into the age of guidance there is enormous opportunity for procurement pros to make themselves known and heard…

SAP Ariba’s Vice President, James Marland, believes that the procurement function is moving from what he calls the Age of Mandate into the Age of Guidance – and that’s a great thing.

“The Procurement Department seemed to consist of people who delighted in saying ‘no’. In order to get anything bought by the organisation you had to jump through a whole series of hoops: but that’s not really how people want to engage with their suppliers.”

He argues that an advisory role is by far the preferable option;  “procurement needs to be helping people to do their jobs, not getting in the way. If too many barriers are put in front of them people will just buy it in a different way, perhaps putting it through an Expense Report.”

‘Advisory procurement’ is not a controversial suggestion by any means. As James highlights, almost all areas of our business are transitioning to become more advisory in their approach. HR, for example, are likely to discuss with their employees how to manage their pensions, rather than dictate to them how it must be done.

In the past, IT might have handed you a laptop to use but now many organisations employ a ‘bring your own device to work’ scheme.

“The Age of Mandate was very much about rules and policies: telling people what they can’t do. And really, in Procurement we interposed ourselves into our stakeholders’ business process: kind of ‘got in the way’.  And we were measured on savings.”

But now we can measure procurement on much more important things.

How procurement can guide the organisation

Procurement is in a truly unique position to impart organisation-wide change whether it’s managing risk or encouraging a more  purpose-led approach to business.  But these changes have to be executed in the right way.

‘Why can’t I buy it online, it’s cheaper than the corporate catalogue?’

This is the sort of question procurement teams are all too used to hearing from different areas of the business.

But huge, branded corporations have to be extremely careful when it comes to managing their supply chains and supplier lists.  No one in the UK could forget the huge 2013 scandal that occurred when horsemeat was found in some of the processed beef products sold by a number of supermarkets. You might also remember that Tesco, Iceland, Aldi and Lidl were all implemented and exposed by the press.

Of course, it wasn’t their suppliers who bought the horsemeat. It wasn’t even their supplier’s supplier’s supplier’s supplier.

But we always remember the brands.

“Historically, procurement hasn’t done a brilliant job in explaining this sort of risk to the business” James argues. But rather than simply saying no “we need to be able to offer a range of solutions to the business that still allows them to buy what they need to buy, whilst removing the fear and risk of things like poor ethical practices in the supply chain.”

“It must be easy for users to consume. Not, for example, complicated supplier lists that no one knows about.”

In other words; whilst an organisation might send out a mandate from the top that, for example, they want to buy more locally, it won’t necessarily work if the procedures aren’t put in place to make it possible.

A business striving to make the office more accessible can’t succeed by simply adding another dozen questions to every RFP.

Instead, procurement can implement systems whereby inclusive filters are automatically applied.

“You need to make it so it’s easier to do the right thing than to do the wrong thing,” James explains.

So why does James think procurement is best placed to guide the business in doing the right thing?

Put simply “we spend all the money.”

“You can boycott your corner shop and that’s great. But if procurement can persuade a big mining company to employ local people differently that could have a huge impact on the world.”

“A lot of social change is about placing large resources that a company has into the economy. Most of the transactions in the world, 80 per cent are B2B and most of that comes through a procurement desk.

“We’re privileged to have such an effect and it’s a responsibility that we are stewards of the global economy.”

James Marland, Vice President – SAP Ariba, spoke at last month’s Big Ideas Summit. Check out his interview here. 

6 Top Tips From 6 Procurement Influencers

We interviewed some of procurement’s most influential leaders to hear their advice for the global procurement community. Here are there 6 top tips…

Are we running out of humans who can get the procurement job done?

Is the future office-free?

Should every procurement team have a Chief Data Officer?

How do you sell yourself, your team and the profession to the stakeholders that really matter?

Can procurement teams make themselves indispensable?

These are some of the questions that we addressed at last week’s Big Ideas Summit in London, where we brought together the top procurement minds to connect, collaborate and innovate.

Couldn’t join us on the day? Not a problem! We’ve documented all of the highlights for our digital delegates and pulled together this list of 6 top tips for procurement pros from some of the function’s most influential leaders.

1.Become an essential partner to the business – Bob Murphy CPO, IBM

IBM’s CPO, Bob Murphy, believes that while procurement leaders “need to be able to use technology to get the insights and knowledge, their focus should be on developing their emotional intelligence (EQ) rather than their IQ, and their ability to talk to clients in a consultative manner. Listening is critical – When we’re talking, we’re not learning.”

“Project management, empathy, innovative thinking and an agile mind-set are also critical skills at IBM.

“You hear a lot of people talk about procurement leaders becoming “trusted advisors” to their businesses, but I think we need to take it to the next level and become ‘essential partners.’

“We should enhance everything that we touch.”

Read more from Bob Murphy in this article.

2. Procure with Purpose – James Marland Vice President, SAP Ariba

James Marland, Vice President – SAP Ariba argued that it is an exciting time to be part of procurement an professionals should seize this opportunity. Procurement professionals are often told that they’re the ones who save the money, deal with suppliers and cut purchase orders.

But now procurement can have a new agenda; bringing to the table initiatives that achieve crucial social goals such as eradicating slave labour, improving sustainability and creating an inclusive and diverse workforce.

Take that opportunity and procure with purpose!

Read more from James Marland in this article. 

3.  Engineer Serendipity –  Greg Lindsay, Urbanist and Futurist

Greg Lindsay, Futurist, Urbanist, Journalist and Author, is a firm believer in the fact that innovation is fundamentally social. Indeed, case study after case study has demonstrated that the best ideas are more likely to arise from a casual chat around the water fountain than in any scheduled meeting.

They are the result of serendipity – a chance encounter at the right time by the right people, regardless of their rank, affiliation, and department or whether they even work for the same company.

The most innovative companies in the world are busy engineering serendipity and harnessing social networks and new ways of working designed to cultivate the discovery of new ideas. And that’s exactly what procurement should be doing!

Read more from Greg Lindsay in this article. 

4. Take More Risks – Professional Poker Player Caspar Berry

Professional poker player Caspar Berry believes “People are broadly hard wired to be risk-averse. It keeps them alive. Its kept our species alive for however many thousands of years.”

“What we call risk aversion is essentially a desire to succeed in the short term. And a desire to succeed is another way of describing a fear or aversion to loss and risk.

“I don’t judge anyone negatively for not being able to push the latitude and risk level but it’s important to engage in a conversation in order to try.

“Its our own results we’re sabotaging, sometimes inadvertently, if we don’t!”

Read more from Caspar Berry in this article. 

5. Gather data and do something with it- Chris Sawchuk, Principal The Hackett Group

Top procurement teams achieve their superior performance because they have higher-caliber people who apply their skills to effectively harness digital technologies and capabilities.

Chris Sawchuk, Principal The Hackett Group discussed the need for procurement professionals to develop two fundamental skills:

  1. Procurement has to get better at gathering and creating big data in order to provide meaningful insights for the business and go beyond the data that we have access to today.
  2. Procurement needs to improve their advanced analytics capabilities, to be able to look at data and draw out the opportunities it offers.

The future of procurement is not about the way we execute processes. It’s really about the insights and intelligence we provide to our organisations to give them an advantage.

Read more from The Hackett Group in this article.

6.  Prepare for the worst – Nick Ford, Co-Founder Odesma

Nick Ford, Co-founder – Odesma discussed how procurement professionals can help turn Brexit into an opportunity for their organisation.

It’s an uncertain time for procurement professionals; who must consider how the function will be impacted by an increase in the cost of imported goods, freedom of movement (or lack thereof!) and a potentially depleted talent pool.

As businesses prepare, the role for procurement teams is increasing dramatically and it’s a real opportunity to put procurement at the front and centre of organisations. We just need to prepare!

Read more from Nick Ford in this article. 

Want to explore more content and video footage from Big Ideas London 2018. Sign up here (it’s free) to register as a digital delegate and gain access.