Saturday 17 December 2016

My year in Blogs

I've loved 2016 - I'd even go so far as to say it's exceeded expectations.

It's hard to say definitively why, but if I was to guess I'd say it's got a lot to do with doing the things I'm passionate about, I'm good at, and that also make a difference. A fabulous triad to be bringing into work every day. Well - not every 1 of the 366 days in 2016 obviously. Like everyone I have days when it's just work, and I'm looking forward to the end of the day, especially the day after a 3 day workshop or I've travelled back from somewhere! That said, I've have thoroughly enjoyed the largest percentage of 2016, and share here my highlights as told by the blogs I've written.

The Purchasing Coach's 10th Anniversary 
Little did I realise when I left full time employment in February 2006 that I'd still be here ten years later! Yep February was my 10th anniversary of working of myself, and the highlights shared at the time can be found here.

Soft Skills Development (or should that be: (Not so) Soft Skills Development) 
Soft skills development has always featured on workshops, and always gets a mention in the answer to 'what will you do differently as a result of attending the workshop' question.

This year, however, I've had much more opportunity to explore soft skills with clients via numerous half day 1:1 coaching sessions, and 1:3 clinics.

The clinics offer the opportunity to apply soft skills or procurement tools and techniques to current working challenges, allowing attendees to leave with a new strategy for dealing with their work then, and in the future.

Clinics in 2016 have covered stakeholder engagement, creativity, negotiation, planning & time management, and business requirements. Clinics on facilitation skills, and conflict resolution are being considered for 2017.

Feedback from these coaching and clinic sessions have included:
  • "I’m more: resilient to the challenges, positive, confident and motivated" 
  • "My stakeholder is now listening, and more respectful of me"
  • "I no longer take problems to people but also take potential solutions"
  • "Coaching has challenged me to think differently"
  • "It’s been great to try out different scenarios in a safe environment"
  • "I am taking more responsibility for my own reactions and judgement of others"
It's perhaps the reason I've loved this year so much, soft skills and personal development is an area I'm very very passionate about, and it can have such a transformational impact on the individual, those around them, and their results. What's not to enjoy :-)

Blogs on the (not so) soft skills have included:
With the occasional rants
Unconventional Coaching and Facilitation Tools 
I'm certainly motivated by difference. Whilst the syllabus for workshops might often contain similar content, the way of conveying the learning is in constant change. I'm always looking for a different and more effective means of embedding new insight, as much to keep me fresh and excited about the training as anything.  

When solving problems the more conventional tools and techniques have often already been tried by the coaching client before the session, and found to be unsuccessful. Sometimes resistance to change may also be making itself know. In these instances more unconventional tools, that keep barriers down, can be a huge advantage. It's certainly why I have them in my coaching toolkit. They don't come out for every session, but they're there to use if needed AND if I believe it will support the client in moving from where they are - to where they want to be. 

The more unconventional tools I used this year have included:
  • Use of metaphor - I LOVE it
  • Changing our language - because words have power
  • Exploring the metaphors contained within our language - for example going around in circles, getting out of our comfort zone/universe with links in those blogs to other blogs written in previous years on not seeing the wood for the trees, being stuck in a rut and so on.
  • Using our submodalities to change our perspective on a situation - in one post I explored becoming more confident using this process
  • Use of nature as a metaphor for our lives - such an insightful tool
  • Taking a walking meeting as we did on recent workshops in Warsaw (at the request of the client after the success of it happening at an earlier workshop) 
  • Using pipe cleaners to solve problems - one solution to a communication issue was shown in the picture above
  • Doing something different every day - it's such a powerful tool for shifting mindsets 
  • Frameworks for change coaching process - because sometimes we don't know what the solution is, and don't want to be told by someone else either, and might just consider what the cards have to ask us. 
  • Collage - yes you read that right - collage 
Procurement Transformation and Change Management 

There's also been time in the office developing category management and supplier management toolkit's for clients, and the accompanying training workshops (via other consultancies and direct). The above links don't take you to blogs written this year but blogs written last year that have been updated to include content covered during this years workshops.

Other popular blogs written on procurement this year include:
With over 80 posts written this year on this Purchasing Coach blog, and over 30 written on my Landscaping Your Life blog the above index only provides a snapshot of the blogs I've written this year.

and so finally...

Travels, and walking the talk

I left a voicemail message for my mum saying "I'll ring you when I get to Schiphol - no wait I'm not going via Schiphol this time - I'll call you from Brussels". I've also missed 2 connecting flights, had my luggage turn up a day later than me, and now need a new suitcase because mine has split!

In other words travelling has certainly featured a lot in 2016 - from Glasgow, Manchester, Derby, and London in the UK, to Atlanta, Shanghai, Amsterdam and Warsaw further afield. Many multiple visits, webex's, conference calls, meeting rooms, meals in restaurants and airports, and many nights in a hotel!
On my return from Shanghai in August I took a well needed social media break, and as you read this I will already have started another. I'll be back full of the joys and raring to go in early January (see Services for 2017 blog to give you a sense of what might include, and my new year's resolution "we didn't leave our humanity at the door" post).

Wishing you festive greetings, and a great start to 2017.


Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Using unconventional tools to unlock the potential of procurement teams.

Follow hypertext links above to other posts written on the subject highlighted.

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