Friday, 28 June 2019

What do Procurement people tweet about when they get together?


The inaugural #procurementhour took place last night and as the invite didn’t get to all our procurement professionals in time I wanted to encourage you to join next Thursday evening at 2000 BST.

If you’re not familiar with a #twitterhour it’s much like following a person on Twitter but you follow a hashtag for a specific hour instead and everyone uses it during the discussions and peeps exchange ideas, ask and answer questions and generally have a chin wag over a drink of your choice about a topic you’re passionate about. Which means there will be one for where you live, for hobbies, passions and professions etc #cumbriahour #LDchat #BBCQT and now #procurementhour

This hour was facilitated by @deltaprocure @kershaw_MCIPS and whilst many future #twitterhours may involve more questions, and focusing on specific topics, it was q3 that got the party going.

Q3 if you could change one thing about procurement (processes, legal, governance, culture, other) to make delivery better what would it be.

What would you have said? And how would you have provided solutions to facilitate that change?

With so many tangents from this question I suspect this is only my interpretation of the key topics: 
  • Culture – to make embracing change easier
  • Stakeholder engagement – engaging them and doing so earlier because we understand the process but they understand what they want “we’re in this together” 
  • Mindset – to stepping outside our comfort zones
  • Process – ensuring it’s fit for purpose not a hurdle for innovation
  • Performance measurement – what would Unilever or Steve jobs do and would it really be so reliant on compliance?
Tweets that had me going “hell yes” included

@MCulleyMCIPS procurement isn’t boring, it’s there to change the way goods/services/works are purchased to deliver better things, it’s not all about saving money.

@noursidawi leadership is the difference – and we lead, and are led, at all levels.

#ProcurementHour reminded me we’re not alone, and need to work together to be the change we want to see.

Hope you’ll join the conversation next week to help do that.

Alison Smith @purchasingcoach

Thursday, 27 June 2019

"I was able to experience a profound shift"

I’m so much happier as coach than coachee - and yet I have to dip a toe out of my comfort zone and accept that keeping feedback to myself isn’t helping potential clients know what others think of the work I do for them. With that in mind, I’m starting with this fabulous feedback from Mel Sherwood - I can’t think of a better response to a session:

“I was able to experience a profound shift”. The outcome Mel achieved is why I do what I do to support others in releasing the blocks to achieving their goals. Whilst the majority of coaching clients are procurement team members (1:1 or group clinics focusing on behavioural skills) I do also provide one-off intensive coaching days/weekends or a programme of personal coaching for individuals. With a wealth of coaching tools in my LANDSCAPE toolkit there’s always something that will be the difference that makes the difference. Thanks so much to Mel, and thank you for reading.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Next time suppliers or colleagues are ‘ignoring’ you, best to check your language for clarity

“My manager has told me I need to provide less detail to stakeholders, and I don’t know what they mean.”

This quandary arose in a coaching session and is a wonderful example of people using language they understand and assuming others understand it too. I can imagine the frustration as the manager thinks “I told them they need to be less detailed. Why are they still giving too much detail? They’re just ignoring me”, and so on.
The challenge was the words “less detail” because, whilst the manager had a clear sense of what they meant, the recipient of those words had no idea. For that individual the instructions just weren’t detailed enough. “I only provide the detail that’s needed” “If I provide any less detail it won’t make sense” They just didn’t understand the request and, despite being very willing, had no idea how to change their behaviour. The resulting strategy we developed in the coaching session was something along these lines: 1. Provide short overview 2. Pause and wait for a question 3. Provide short answer 4. Pause and wait for a question
And so on. What this helped them model was if people wanted more detail they could ask for it. Next time suppliers or colleagues are ‘ignoring’ you - best to check your language for clarity.

Friday, 21 June 2019

"It's taken me over 100 hours to compose"

“It’s taken me over 100 hours to compose” Jon Schmidt from the Piano Guys said last week at the SECC in Glasgow, as he introduced his version of A million dreams.

A little later, as they played a mash-up of Beethoven’s 5 secrets - onerepublic, this quote from that great composer appeared on the screen in-front of us: “Don't only practise your art, but force your way into its secrets” Isn’t that what Jon was doing spending 100 hours exploring a song where the majority of the musical composition was already known that lasts less than five minutes? In his book 'Outliers', Malcolm Gladwell suggests it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert. 10,000 hours to force your way into its secrets perhaps? As I listened to Jon demonstrate his musical expertise, a lyric from the song came to mind: “I think of what the world could be” Isn’t that why Jon spent 100 hours on just one piece, why experts spend 10,000 hours on their art, because they think of what the world could be and are motivated to take action? How are you forcing your way into the secrets of how the world could be? Me - I spend my time forcing my way into the secrets of coaching tools that help people be the catalyst for change for how they want the world to be - in procurement, business or personally.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Absurdity: how it can help us find solutions

Absurdity and laughter (turn the sound down first) could be my mission statement - but it is also one of the tools in the LANDSCAPE coaching toolkit, because sometimes it’s the only thing that will shake us out of our current ways of thinking.


If our mind is going round and round...and we’ve no idea how to find a solution, getting a little absurd might help. The theory suggests that absurdity pushes our mind to try to make sense of all the nonsense. As we laugh at the lack of logic it’s as if the laughter breaks the chains tying us to our repetitive thinking. In coaching sessions the absurdity has included: šŸ’„Naming beliefs that will really hinder finding a solution - e.g. only one person in the whole world can do this šŸ’„Different wording of well-known sayings - e.g. can’t hear the wood for the trees, can’t see the mountain for the molehill šŸ’„Different interpretations for someone’s behaviour - e.g. PoTUS is telling them what to do You only have to listen to 'I’m sorry I haven’t a clue' for other ideas for absurdity - singing one song to the tune of another anyone? The aim is to shift the current thinking in order to have more choice going forward about what to do next. Don’t keep doing the same thing & expect a different response - try something different and notice what you notice.