Tuesday 15 October 2013

Be careful what paths you tread


My supply management blog today looks at the language we use being a doorway into our unconscious. Which means it’s also something we can use to find solutions to challenges we’re facing.

For example I’ve written previously about use of sayings such as “no pain, no gain”, “stuck in a rut” and “making mountains out of molehills” that keep us stuck, and how we can use those same sayings to get unstuck.

At the CIPS Annual Conference last week, CIPS president Paula Gildert said “we are on a dangerous path if we continue to only embrace a ‘cost out’ philosophy”. If we explore her use of these words, I wonder what that tells us?

Let’s first explore what being on a ‘dangerous path’ might mean:
  • Paths are often only one person wide, not conducive to building relationships with others.
  • Paths generally lead to one vantage point, with a return often required along the same path.
  • Paths can be well maintained, but brings to mind those that are a little pot-holed and muddy in places.
  • It’s easy to get lost on paths as they’re not frequently signposted.
  • Mention of dangerous paths reminds me of Bear Grylls. Not someone you’d follow gladly, unless you were lost in the wilderness or you’re into extreme activities.
  • Dangerous paths also require constant vigilance and that means there’s very little energy available for other activities.
If a dangerous path isn’t the right analogy we want for procurement’s relationships within an organisation I wonder what would be:
  • A road or highway
  • with multiple potential destinations
  • which is signposted
  • well maintained
  • safe
  • easy to get on and off, and
  • perhaps even with some transportation available.
How that translates for your organisation, in terms of building a value highway rather than cost out path, only you can determine. But I do wonder if that makes it more about the journey for our stakeholders than the destination?

Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out in procurement

* The picture, even if a little tenuously linked to dangerous paths, is one I often pull my dad about regarding allowing me that close to a dangerous cliff edge. I'm assured it was safer than it looks.

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