Thursday 31 May 2012

How will your stakeholders grow?

The BBC's Springwatch just wouldn't be springwatch without Chris Packham and his charts - his delight at conveying data in a chart is contagious. I do have that trait myself - if I can put it in Excel I will and if I can then convey the data graphically all the better. 

Charts and tables aren't just for post activity data analysis they can also be used pre-activity. As you can see in this chart that shows you how to grow vegetables including: 
  • what time of year you can plant them in and outside
  • ideal soil temperature to enable the seeds to germinate
  • their hardiness to weather changes (always needed here in Scotland)
  • when to fertilise
  • when to water 
Following the advice will optimise the likelihood of the vegetables making it to harvest and eventually the dinner table.

To optimise the likelihood of fruitful relationships with your stakeholders a similar table would be helpful - including information such as:
  • likes
  • dislikes
  • what gets them up in a morning
  • what keeps them awake at night
  • support needed to enable them to flourish
  • influence within the organisation
  • support for purchasing/procurement
It's only by knowing this information that you can know how to flex your communication to suit them as an individual and increase the opportunity to influence and engage their support.

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach

Chart picture Source: via Alison on Pinterest

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Are your suppliers over stretched?

There are a number of reasons that suppliers can become over stretched e.g.:
  • buying organisation getting carried away with what suppliers tell them they can do
  • buying organisation asking them to do more and more
  • new contracts being accepted using the same resource
  • reduced resources available - through illness, ineffeciency etc
  • lack of training and support
To resolve the situation, however it's manifested itself whether in poor service, quality or increasing costs, is to:
  • Notice the supplier is over stretched
  • Explore the reasons for the over stretching
  • Take appropriate action  
Simple enough and yet many supplier failures are because we've just buried our head in the sand and hoped the situation would resolve itself.

Which of your suppliers are overstretched and what do you need to do to get them working effectively and efficiently?

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Sowing the seeds to ensure your suppliers don't overstretch themselves
Picture Source: via Alison on Pinterest

Monday 28 May 2012

Are your business tools just for show?

I love these tools and like the idea of having a go making some for myself but they wouldn't be very useful in the garden.

I suspect those of you with gardens will have a number of more useful tools - unless of course someone else does it for you. How many of them you have, how many you use regularly and what they are will depend on a number of factors: 
  • the size of the garden
  • style/type of garden
  • the function of your garden
  • the number of plants
  • soil type
  • your short/medium and long term objectives
  • budget available
  • gardening expertise available
  • enthusiasm and passion for gardening 
  • significant other's views on gardening and use of the garden
  • their support for your efforts
  • current condition of the tools
  • ease of access to the tools
  • the weather
However many you have - the fact remains that you wouldn't:
  • use a watering can to dig up a weed
  • use a spade to prune your shrubs
  • plant your seeds in the compost bin or even
  • use a hose during a hosepipe ban 
Could you say the same for the business area you work in? What tools do you have available and how many of them are you using? Or are they just hanging on the wall next to the award the business won in 1997?

How much more productive could your teams be if they had access to and were using the right tools for the job?

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach

Fork and Spade Picture Source: via Alison on Pinterest

Sunday 27 May 2012

Don't spend time with Miserable Mackerels

Miserable Mackerels was a term Mike Ogilvie the Profit Man introduced me to at the Professional Speakers Association (PSA) event here in Scotland on Saturday. I can certainly see that description sticking. After all we all know many Miserable Mackerels and at times I'm sure can be one ourselves. Mike was using it in the context of customer services and it won't take you long to recall when you've been served by a Miserable Mackerel and the impact it had on the likelihood of your future custom and profitability.

The other guest speaker for the day was Derek Arden President of the PSA and Mr Negotiation who said on the topic of our professional speaking that "you are who you spend the most time with."

I blogged last week about ensuring we do the things that optimise our happiness but what Derek & Mike had me considering was the impact of our relationships with others. That is if the people I spend time with are Miserable Mackerels ie:
  • negative
  • pessimistic
  • grumpy
  • tired
  • demotivated
  • disengaged
  • full of frowns
Then I can't but help eventually pick it up from them - or if I'm already like them continued contact means it's going to be hard to stop being like that. After all, as I said in another blog last week on Rapport, we like people who are like ourselves and will do things to reduce the differences even if that means remaining miserable!

I appreciate there may be times when support of a friend means we do put ourselves in a situation where we are presented with the list above. However sustained contact won't help us and, I'd suggest, them either.

There's another subtle aspect to this too - if I have aspirations of being a successful speaker, author and entrepreneur making a difference in the world then I need to be spending time with people who demonstrate the behaviours that will make that outcome more likely ie:
  • confident
  • innovative
  • optimistic
  • entrepreneur
  • making a difference
  • speaking internationally
  • attracting clients
  • financially successful
  • contributing
If I ensure our values align then I'll increase the likelihood of this strategy working. Which means I need to add the following to my list of criteria:
  • authenticity
  • integrity
  • spirituality
  • collaboration 
What changes do you need to put in place to make achieving your goals and dreams more likely? and anyone out there wishing to put themselves forward to add to my existing list of friends, colleagues and role models please do get in touch :-).

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Sowing the seeds for procurement teams to never be accused of being Miserable Mackerels

Friday 25 May 2012

6 out of 7 of Disney's dwarfs are not Happy

6 out of 7 dwarfs in the Disney story are of course not called Happy :-) but seeing the tweet today made me think of recent choices I've made to maximise the opportunities for my own happiness.

Stopped watching NCIS!
I love the characters in NCIS and really watch it for the relationships and banter. Yet I realised something was making me agitated and that agitation seemed to disappear when I was away from home. On further investigation I realised my watching NCIS nightly wasn't doing me any good - the premise of any NCIS storyline being: A dead body, murder, violence, lies & deceit all enveloped by the cheerful banter between characters.

Started using PINTEREST!
I've always had vision boards around my home and know the benefit for me of positive images and words to reinforce a positive and happy outlook. The problem is they soon become part of the furniture and I don't see them. I may spend a day developing such a board but then it just sits there for months. A Pinterest board is something I can add to daily and since starting a Vision and Positive word board 6 weeks ago have noticed my improved positive and optimistic outlook. 

The only downside is Pinterest can get addictive (see my Sowing the Seeds Business Board and other boards). So I do have to remember other choices I've made over recent months and years that also contribute to a continued optimistic and therefore happier outlook:

Continue to:
Eat healthier food, Get enough sleep, Reduce (trying to cut out but failing thus far) sugar, Exercise, Get out in the Sunshine and get some Sea air (see below for evidence of this from this morning's personal training session),
Busting negative beliefs, Being in the moment (more), Spending time with people I enjoy being with, Reading inspiring books, Watching inspiring films and programmes etc.

If you're Grumpy, Sleepy or Dopey what action are you taking every day to be Happy?

Alison Smith
Disney Picture Source: via Alison on Pinterest

Thursday 24 May 2012

Would you win best in show?

In May 2012 and for the 2nd year running Cleve West was celebrating winning best in show at the RHS Chelsea flower show for his garden celebrating the 250th anniversary of Brewin Dolphin. As I watched the video of his thank you speech I was brought to tears. I wondered why that might be and concluded it was a mixture of all the things that led to his win and wrote this blog.

Today, as its announced that Trailfinders Australian Garden sponsored by Trailfinders, Fleming’s Nurseries, Victorian State Government and Phillip Johnson Landscapes has won best in show 2013, I'm sure the following are as true for Phil Johnson who designed this year's winning garden as it was for Cleve West last year.
  • His passion for what he does
  • The team work that was needed
  • The design, planning & creativity
  • The attention to detail
  • Plant selection
  • Plant quality
  • Plant care - just to get them flowering this week
  • Planting
  • Maintenance - even for the week I assume there's still much to do
  • Meticulous Management - as #likeminds & @lesanto have just tweeted about
and yes perhaps the tears were also due to:
  • his delight in winning
  • the obvious delight of friends in his win
  • and the fact I love cottage style gardens (more pictures can be found here).
The project success had much to do with all the things I've listed - failure on any one of these and he might have failed. As head gardener and designer for the project Cleve (and Phil) was responsible for ensuring it all worked perfectly.

For what ever you're head gardener of could you say the same? Would your effort on tending to those in your team enable them to win you a best in class? Do you have the passion? How much planning have you done? Are you attending to every detail? Are your giving it and them the care they need? and would you delight in their success? Are you withering or flourishing?

What seeds do you need to sow now to reap a good harvest later in the year?

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Sowing the seeds for you to be best in class in your purchasing garden

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Are they asleep, sluggish & distracted in your meetings?

Whilst much of the work I do with managers, who have had no formal training in purchasing, revolves around inspiring them about purchasing :-), the work I do with Purchasing Managers and Procurement Teams does enable me to look at wider well being and life balance.

Which means my new blog isn't going to be just about purchasing tools & techniques or just about using gardening as a metaphor for purchasing. I will still be getting passionate about communication, influencing, well being and other aspects of balance in mind, body & soul. Which I believe anyone who's enjoyed my blogs on AlisonSmitheu will be happy to know.

So to today's wellbeing topic - After weeks of being away from home spent in hotels, trains, planes and meetings I have a plea for all meeting, conference and training organisers:


I'm surmising if you are such an organiser that you have an objective for all attendees to be:
  • attentive
  • awake
  • alert
  • communicative
  • energetic
  • engaged
  • participative
and yet often the only options are caffeinated tea and coffee, biscuits and sweets!!

I will refrain from sharing my personal view about the use of sugar and caffeine to sustain energy and their impact on health. I would ask, however, on behalf of those who would prefer more natural means of sustaining our energy, and even have adverse reactions to those foods offered, that you also offer a choice which includes:
  • water
  • fresh fruit
  • dried fruit
  • nuts  
  • herbal teas
Thank You

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach

Tuesday 22 May 2012

I don't trust you because we're not the same

Social media has a lot to answer for - I saw this picture on Pinterest and thought it would work well with a blog about rapport (see link to original source of picture below) and then this tweet appeared from @David_Rae "If you enter a room and can tell who the procurement guy is, he's failed. Should be business people..." Firminich's Bhavesh Shah #plnforum"

I wasn't at the conference so don't know why Bhavesh Shah thinks they'd have failed. I know why I do: We're more likely to be influenced by people we trust, and people generally trust people they like and people like people who are like themselves.

As a result unconsciously we're always looking for the opportunity to minimise the differences and highlight the similarities between us and other people. So we might:
  • Wear the same things
  • Say the same things
  • Act the same
  • Mirror body language
  • Look for shared interests
  • Find shared beliefs
  • Discover common challenges
  • and so on
When we do this it's called Rapport.

Rapport is an essential element required when selling a service to, or working with, a stakeholder (whether that stakeholder is internal or external to your organisation). Without rapport the stakeholder will think you're not the same as them and therefore might, without any other information, summise:
  • you don't understand them
  • you have conflicting objectives
  • you have your own agenda
  • you're not to be trusted 
Which won't always engender the type of relationship you need in order to achieve yours or the business's objectives.

Next time you're off for a meeting just remember to look for ways you can bring out the similarities between both parties before you hit them with the differences. 

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Sowing the seeds for business managers to achieve rapport with purchasing

Monday 21 May 2012

Are your suppliers running riot like Japanese Knotweed?

Every gardener understands that seeds need time in the greenhouse, lawns need mowing, weeds need to be pulled and to never plant Japanese Knotweed. Yet many business managers often forget to feed, weed and/or prune their suppliers. And yes most managers at some point in their career realise they've planted a Japanese Knotweed and realise, too late, the error of their ways.

So before you plant your next supplier just make sure you understand the nature of the plant and variety you've selected: How much care and attention will they need, in what conditions do they flourish, what will make them wither and die and will you be able to easily transplant them when they get too big!


Alison Smith

Picture Source: via Alison on Pinterest

Thursday 17 May 2012

Grow Dammit

You really wouldn't expect the flowers in this picture to grow just because we told them to - words are completely useless without action - and appropriate action at that. 

To flourish we need to ensure that the plants have access to the right conditions for them - light, soil, warmth, nutrients, water etc. The last thing we'd do is buy a new plant and just pull it out of it's container and dump it in a corner and hope that it grows - so why expect suppliers to?  

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Sowing the seeds for your garden of suppliers to win a gold at #RHSChelsea

and a card of this picture taken by Susan Bergstrom can be purchased by following the link below
Picture Source: via Alison on Pinterest

Thursday 3 May 2012

Everybody can buy

Gardeners understand that seeds need time in the greenhouse, lawns need mowing and weeds need to be pulled. Yet many businesses often forget to feed, weed and/or prune their suppliers. Why - because they’re only applying buying processes to their expenditure and not applying more rigour by adopting purchasing or procurement tools and techniques.

As The Purchasing Coach I help you ensure your purchasing garden delivers true value to your business or organisation.

This blog explores the behaviours needed to move along the buying/purchasing/procuring continuum - where ever you currently are in the journey. That journey will require you to use a higher degree of rigour and more tools to unlock the value as you move from buying to purchasing and then onto procuring as the following pictures using the dig deep metaphor show:

The Procurement toolkit

Because everybody can buy - but not everyone will purchase and very few will procure.

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Helping ensure your suppliers don't run riot like Japanese Knotweed
+44 (0)7770 538159