Saturday 17 January 2015

Professional Effectiveness

Effectiveness has many contributory factors - process, skill, commitment, motivation to name a few.

Process is an area I think we take for granted and often ignore. Its perhaps too easy to muddle through until we find there's a more effective way of doing what ever we're doing.

This statement equally applies to business as it does pleasure. Whether purchasing or cooking, training or exercising, public speaking or driving there's a most effective way of doing it, and there's many sub optimal ways of doing it. 

The challenge is knowing the difference between effectiveness and suboptimal ways? 

Of the list above I'd suggest there's only one where a large majority of people understand that they don't know enough to muddle through and take lessons - driving. For all the other skills listed many muddle through believing that's enough whether they're purchasing, cooking, training, exercising or public speaking. 

Of course muddling though is ok unless you're getting paid to do it and then effectiveness at the skill is what being a professional is all about. Every one of the professions above has a multitude of processes and best ways of doing things that attending training or having a coach can help you develop.

Cooking is one profession that has done so much to ensure everyone understands there's more to it than we first thought - Masterchef, The Great British Bake Off and the multitude of other cooking shows have seen to that.

Procurement still suffers from the opposite. Everyone personally buys for themselves and therefore many assume when paid to do it by their organising that muddling through is ok. I don't mean the members of the procurement department, who have generally undertaken some form of training, I mean all the others who get involved in purchasing - others in an organisation who think procurement:
  • Is just about getting three quotes
  • Makes decisions based on only lowest price
  • Involves shouting at and bullying suppliers
  • Can easily and retrospectively renege on a contract especially on payment terms (directed at finance and leadership teams)
  • Isn't a profession and anyone can do it
It's the one challenge procurement as a profession has failed to address. How to ensure those making procurement decisions are sufficiently trained or supported by those who have been.

I wrote earlier this week about many in procurement not undertaking sufficient stakeholder engagement. At the time the focus was on getting internal stakeholders input into sourcing and supplier strategies. Which stops procurement going off and doing their own thing. There's another challenge however and that's how to stop internal stakeholders going off and doing their own thing too. 

The blogs next week will therefore look at the different solutions available to improving stakeholder engagement in procurement as a profession.

Alison Smith
Inspiring change when what you're doing isn't working

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