Friday 21 December 2012

Festive update

What a year - the Purchasing Coach was set up and work has never been busier, I reached the 50 milestone and survived, had 3 holidays and saw much more of friends!

Lets start with work. As I struggled to explain what I did to Janet Torley she said in reply "aren't you The Purchasing Coach" and the rest as they say is history. This blog was born and so too a description that enables others to more easily understand what I do. After all I've always been very passionate about organisations taking their purchasing seriously and always encouraged purchasing departments to understand themselves and to communicate effectively with their internal stakeholders and stop the constant us/them/win/lose with suppliers. Why would I want to stop now?

Activity in 2012 has included: sourcing strategy implementation, category management project facilitation and coaching, purchasing team development, skills gap analysis & e-enabled category management implementation. 2013 starts with some procurement e-learning development - so never a dull moment.

The work has meant a lot of travelling and there will be another blog on the subject of trying to reduce the mileage for 2013. One upside of the travelling has been being able to: catch up with friends where ever I am, visiting the theatre or shops whilst in London and trips to Glastonbury and Castlerigg Stone Circle to name just 2 on route. I'm also more relaxed about turning up at a hotel @ 2230 when I haven't booked and being able to find a room for the night!!

I even managed to take holidays this year!! They started with a few days in Cumbria lambing - I loved it even if the arthritic knees didn't. I'm certainly hoping to go again in 2013. Nothing like lambing to take you back to basics and remind you what's important. My next holiday was at Findhorn to celebrate their 50th on the subject of Love Magic & Miracles (need I say more). The final break was a week in Bamburgh for my 50th starting with a girlie weekend. Blogs on learning from all these can be found here.

In other words a year spent doing what I enjoy, visiting places that inspire and ground me and laughing much with friends.

Sending you festive greetings as this year ends and wishing you and yours an abundant and laughter filled 2013.

With much love
Alison x

The Purchasing Coach
Inspiring change inside and out

PS if you get to read the blogs you'll also see there's been a lot going on to improve my health and wellbeing as the picture of breakfast on the beach demonstrates :-)

Thursday 13 December 2012

What's at the top of your purchasing Christmas tree?

Today I share the first of 2 festive blogs using my Christmas Tree as a reflection on life. Today's blog for Supply Management has a purchasing theme. One with more personal insights will be published on 24th December as part of Alison Chisnells #advent blogs - such a great idea to have guest blogs throughout Dec (and into Jan due to its popularity) on the subject of reflection and resolutions.

As I prepare to put up my Christmas tree I am reminded of when I spoke at this time of year at a purchasing conference and compared an effective procurement function to my tree. I’m sure it’s still as relevant today as it was then.

When picking a tree it’s useful to think about the space you have available, so too the time you have available and the outlay needed to decorate it. It’s taken me years to gather together all my beautiful shiny baubles and certainly couldn’t have afforded to buy them all in the first year. Now however I do have the balls to decorate my 9ft tree. There was one year however that the tree sat their undecorated until the 6th Jan as I ran out of available time and enthusiasm.

Isn’t it the same when setting up a procurement function – you certainly need the enthusiasm, resources and budget to do it. In other words sometimes it might be better starting off with a small tree that you know you can decorate than a huge tree that could just sit there undecorated!

Every tree needs a firm foundation. For me the firm foundation for our teams are provided by appropriate leadership, management and procurement policy, processes and procedures. Without that you may end up crashing to the floor as my fully decorated tree did last year.

The lights are essential to any successful Christmas tree – so too effective stakeholder engagement. I just fear that too often they’re left to blow a fuse or bulb with the replacements well and truly hidden in that safe and yet impossible place to find. Checking every bulb before use will certainly help avoid that.

The baubles add the colour, texture and variety to the tree. They determine the theme and often the reaction from others. So too the buyers, category managers, analysts, contract and supplier managers within your procurement team. I spend some time the day after decoration rearranging the baubles to ensure they’re in the right spot to provide an evenly adorned and visually appealing tree. NB: It’s also useful to check they’re placed not too near the end of the branch otherwise the hoover, cat or anyone walking by may just dislodge them.

The star at the top of the tree (I decided against an angel or fairy this year) represents the leadership support you have within the organisation for applying best practice procurement. They provide the light that others look up to to follow their lead.

Whilst everyone might love looking at the gorgeous Christmas tree often they’re just interested in the presents that Santa leaves under the tree. For Procurement that’s the presents delivering value through cost reduction or avoidance, risk mitigation, quality & service improvements, revenue generation and so on. Funny I think they do appreciate them more when they’re gifted wrapped – although at the time of writing I have yet to buy one present so best take action and do something about it otherwise no presents under my tree this year!

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Reflections and Resolutions

What a great idea to ask for blog contributions for Advent. Here's my contribution to Alison Chisnell's advent blog on 'reflections and resolutions'.

I love decorating my Christmas tree and as I do I share reflections and resolutions that it brings to mind.

The Tree - I love buying a real rather than artificial Christmas tree just for the smell alone - although I could do without all the needles getting everywhere! This year my biggest, hardest and yet most liberating learning has been to 'just be me and know I am enough'. To know that the artificial tree's 'perfection' comes from outside itself and therefore is a poor imitation of the real thing. To know that each real tree is unique because of where it was planted and the growing experiences it has encountered as a result. To finally know, and accept, that being a true reflection of all that I can be, in all my uniqueness, is real perfection.

The Tree Base - a Christmas tree is nothing without a firm base. Last Christmas I got it horribly wrong and my fully decorated tree fell over smashing a number of baubles as the base wasn't secure enough. Perhaps I should have realised it was foretelling the problem I was to have throughout the year with my 'arthritic' knees. It's interesting that things started to come together once I'd taken steps to enable my knees to get their strength and stability back. Steps that included interventions for mind, body, heart & soul.

The Lights represent the path I have followed - each bulb a step forward. Each year a little different in quantity of lights and their brightness. Although there's always the odd blown bulb waiting to be replaced if only I knew where the spare bulbs were. Perhaps buying an extra 400 lights last week reflects my resolution to be the light in 2013 as Marianne Williamson encourages us to in her wonderful piece 'our deepest fear'.

The Tinsel is a sparkly and constant thread throughout my life representing the friends, family, colleagues and tweeple who support me on my journey. Each offering inspiration, support, laughter, love, acceptance, suggestions and/or feedback - all gratefully accepted. The highlight this year was a girlie weekend away for my 50th - the first time in too long where I spent time with friends sharing happy memories, laughter & our hopes and dreams for the future. Something there will certainly be more of in 2013.

The Baubles each reflect the insights gathered over a life time - each chosen to co-ordinate with the rest of the decorations. With the occasional bauble that's there despite the incongruousness of its colour and design. This year I notice the kookaburra bought in the blue mountains in Australia, purchased as a reminder to accept my laugh. Yes it can be too loud and too often but is something that others find infectious and it is often complimented upon even in the strangest of places!

The Angel on the top of the tree represents my emerging belief in my intuition and small voice inside that guides my decisions. I spent a week in Findhorn in October to celebrate their 50th and was yet again reminded of the accuracy of my intuition. I continue to be challenged daily by the conflict between wanting to know why and the absence of that why when intuited to do or say something. Practice practice practice!

The Gift Wrapped Presents under the tree represent the gifts I have still to offer the world. A reminder perhaps, as I said in a blog at the time, that life begins at 50 and there is no time like the present to get out there and just be me.

Festive greetings
Wishing you an abundant 2013

Alison Smith The Purchasing Coach   And for those really observant amongst you yes I did use the same metaphor for what good practice purchasing looks like earlier in the month for my Supply Management blog :-)

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Our Deepest Fear

Over recent weeks I've referred to this a lot so thought I'd share it here too:

Our Deepest Fear
by Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous”.
Actually, who are we not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone.
And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a "Course in Miracles"